Marsha P. Johnson hands out flyers for support of gay students at N.Y.U., 1970. Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections

A History of Stonewall, the Riot That Started the LGBTQ Revolution


In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a riot broke out at a rundown gay bar in New York City. Today the Stonewall uprising is famous around the world as a clash that helped spark a gay political revolution. Brian and Nathan talk to scholars and participants and discover how Stonewall led to a wave of activism, protest and political agitation.

This episode and related resources are funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this show, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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A History of Stonewall Lesson Set

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In the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969, police officers raided The Stonewall Inn, a well-known gay bar in New York City. These types of raids occurred regularly and without incident at other gay bars and nightclubs in the city. However, on this night, patrons of the bar stayed outside and protested the police interference into their lives. Though this moment was not well-covered by the national media, it became a turning point in the fight for equal rights in the gay community. Many historians credit this demonstration as the spark that launched many different LGBTQ groups to form and start a more coordinated movement for equality. It also represents another challenge to the social and political status quo of the 1960s.

This lesson, and the corresponding BackStory episode, focus the legacy of the uprising at Stonewall Inn. Because of the personal nature of many of the accounts presented, encourage students to focus on the events from a historical lens.