The People Of Color Behind The Stonewall Riots
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Politics and Activism

The People Of Color Behind The Stonewall Riots

Who are Marsha P. Johnson and Sylia Rivera?

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The People Of Color Behind The Stonewall Riots


In 2015, director Ronald Emmerich released the film, Stonewall, which depicted what led up to the gay rights movement. The movie was not received well by the LGBT community as he depicted it through the perspective of a fake character who was a cis-gendered male. Audiences claimed that the film failed to show the true pioneers of the gay rights movement, who were people of color. The film made some of the most important people from the Stonewall Riots that began the movement into background characters. So what is the real story of the movement and who were the real people who started it?

Back in the 60's, it was better known as Gay Liberation. There was not as much of a push for marriage as much as there was for the fight to stop harassment and hate towards the LGBT community. During this time, being gay was not only frowned upon, but you could be arrested for it. So many gay clubs were kept secret from the public. In New York, the Stonewall Inn was a popular place for much of the LBGT community to go. These clubs were also run by the mafia who paid off police officers to look the other way. Although they were paid off, some police officers were still deciding to raid the clubs and arrest gay people. The raids were done at random, so many gays did not know when to expect them. During one of the raids, the police officers began to round everyone up.

Storme DeLarverie was one of the many lesbian women of color arrested during the raid. While being put into the police car she shouted, "Why are you all standing around? Do something!" Which then caused Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color to throw the first punch. This led the other people around the Stonewall Inn to start to throw objects at officers to try to get them to back off. At this point, others start to break windows and resist arrest.


Sylvia Rivera was a Trans activist who fought for gay liberation and was treated poorly by the gay community. During the time, the gay community wanted to step away from fighting for trans rights and also failed to defend them when it came to fighting for equality. She dealt with many issues within the community, including not getting recognition. In this video, she says, "I have been beaten, I have lost my job, and I have lost my apartment for gay liberation, and you all treat me this way?! What the fuck is wrong with you all!"

The gay community, no doubt, had issues within itself like racism, sexism, and transphobia. But the persistent fight for equality united them over time.

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