LGBTQIA+ History Month observes 50th anniversary of Stonewall riots with screening

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A discussion afterward was canceled.

By Asia Andrews

A panel planned to discuss the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots did not materialize Oct. 23, but 18 students gathered to watch the 2010 film “Stonewall Uprising” in an event that was part of LGBTQIA+ History Month.


Nick Sheffield, interim director of grants and college development, hosted the screening in Loftin Student Center.

Sheffield has been interim director since spring 2018 after former director Susan Espinoza retired.

He also was a part of the LGBTQIA+ Committee last year but returned again this year because he said he had a great experience.

The discussion at the end of the screening was canceled because Sheffield said he did not receive confirmation from the people invited to participate in the panel.

“Stonewall Uprising” is a documentary about the beginnings of the Gay Liberation Front, produced by PBS and directed by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.

This event observed the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots June 28-July 1, 1969 in New York City.

Sheffield chose this event to host because the Stonewall riots sparked the gay rights movement. He said he thought it was important to include such a significant piece of LGBTQIA+ history during LGBTQIA+ History Month.

“We can look back on what happened, what it means to students today and how things have changed since then,” Sheffield said.

The Stonewall Inn was originally a mafia-owned gay bar that was frequently raided because of payoffs by police.

Homosexuality in the 1950s and 1960s was thought to be a mental illness, and people participating in homosexual activities were arrested as deviants, according to the film.

There were places, such as in New York, however, where people could go and be themselves for the first time.

The Stonewall Inn was one of many gay bars and businesses in New York at the time. A raid in the summer of 1969 sparked the moment when gay men and lesbians started fighting back against being oppressed.

In the early morning of June 28, 1969, police were in the middle of a raid inside the bar when outside, a crowd of gay men, lesbians and drag queens began to taunt the police officers.

People began to throw things at the police, eventually leading police to barricade themselves inside the bar and wait for reinforcements to arrive.

Outside the bar, the crowd got progressively more aggressive, shocking police officers who had thought of homosexuals as “weak.”

As the crowd used fire and makeshift battering rams to break down the barricade inside the bar, reinforcements finally arrived with riot gear and dogs.

Though police tried to contain the situation, the crowd had gained control of the streets and the fighting continued.

In the days following the Stonewall riot, the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights organization, and other activists brainstormed to come up with something that would keep the events of the riot from being swept aside by the media.

Martha Shelley, an activist for gay liberation, suggested a gay protest march from the bar to Central Park.

The gay liberation march was a success and is today known as the Gay Pride Parade.

The Stonewall Inn is still open today at 53 Christopher St. and recognized as a national historic landmark.

The film is available at this college’s library online database at


Leave A Reply