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Just how significant are the Stonewall Riots? Peter Tatchell tells Student Pride

Just how significant are the Stonewall Riots? Peter Tatchell tells Student Pride

Peter Tatchell, complete with rainbow tie, spoke with Jamie Edwards about pride, politics and protest

LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell sat down with non-binary singer and YouTuber Jake Edwards to talk Stonewall and activism.

Nearing 50 years since the riots changed the course of LGBTI people not only in the States, but across the world, Tatchell sketched the scene.

‘Of course, the Stonewall riots were not the first fight back by LGBTQ+,’ Tatchell said, ‘but they were the most significant, the most dramatic.

‘For the first time, LGBTQ+ people said enough is enough.’

Stonewall sparked a movement 

New York City of the late 60s was another world compared to the cosmopolitan center it is today.

In June 1969, it was illegal to serve queer people alcohol and even illegal for queer people to dance with one another.

Police routinely raided queer bars, including the Greenwich Village bar on Christopher St on a warm evening.

Outside the Off-Broadway theatres and brownstones, Marcha P. Johnson threw a brick at police and Stonewall patrons sung We Shall Overcome.

This ignited four nights of riots and sparked a global civil rights movement.

The following year, the first pride parade commemorated the riots.

‘We need this everywhere’

News of the riots spread fast, even across the ocean to Tatchell.

‘I began to be involved in LGBTQ+ activism in my homeland of Australia about three months after the Stonewall riots.

‘I read in a local newspaper a report that thousands of LGBT+ people marched through New York, demanding civil rights.

‘We need this everywhere across the whole planet, I thought.’

On today’s activism 

On activism today, Tatchell, who was arrested in St. Petersburg last year, said there is ‘unfinished business’ in the trans and non-binary community.

Tatchell said: ‘Gender is the new frontline of LGBT+ politics and it’s amazing and positive those thoughts are now to the fore.

‘There was a whole moment of LGBT+ perspectivism which was predominantly gay male. Not lesbian. Not bisexual, and not trans.’

Edwards pointed out how some LGBTI activism today is more centred on ‘social change’ rather than protest.

‘Trying to achieve to get rid of that oppression that we feel in the streets rather than within the law,’ they said.

See also:

Student Pride calls on BBC to allow same-sex dance couples on Strictly

UK Prime Minister Theresa May awards ‘outstanding’ Student Pride founder

Student Pride: How to make the most of the LGBTI festival’s job fair