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Boston Pride Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Uprising with a Community Forum

Tuesday Apr 23, 2019

Boston Pride announced that it is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising with a series of events, highlighted by a Community Forum at historic Faneuil Hall on June 3, 2019, at 7 pm.

This year's Pride theme, "Looking Back, Loving Forward," refers to the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, widely acknowledged as a defining event in the U.S. LGBTQ movement.

"Looking Back" calls us to honor the courageous, multiply oppressed LGBTQ people who risked their welfare to fight back, and to remind us that in its origins, the LGBTQ Liberation Movement was a countercultural movement that understood all forms of oppression as linked. "Loving Forward" calls us to extend multiple hands to the most disadvantaged among us, to listen to their voices, understand their experience, and in effect, to participate in inclusive community-building by addressing all forms of social injustice. Boston Pride convened a subcommittee, Stonewall 50, chaired by Don Gorton to develop events and oversee activities to mark this important milestone in LGBTQ history.

A little after 1:00 am on June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City was raided by the police, as it often was. The Stonewall Inn drew a racially mixed population that included drag queens, butch dykes, transsexuals, homeless gay youth, LGBT sex workers, and cisgender gays and lesbians.

Everyone in the bar was initially held, then most were released, one by one, after producing an ID. The only people sure to be arrested were gender variant individuals who were not wearing three items of "gender appropriate" clothing, LGBT street youth who did not have ID's, and the employees for selling alcohol without a license. A crowd gathered outside the Stonewall, many waiting for their friends to come out, cheering each time a "released" patron emerged from the bar.

Provoked by the sight of seeing their drag queen, butch lesbian, and transsexual friends forced into the paddy wagon, the crowd changed moods from festive to angry. Who threw the first penny, punch, stone, or brick may be a matter of dispute, but it is well-established that gender variant and LGBT people of color were on the front lines of resistance.

Over the course of five days and nights, thousands of people participated in the ongoing riot. Within a month, the New York Gay Liberation Front was founded. At the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, thousands of people marched up Fifth Avenue to Central Park. With similar marches taking place across the US, LGBTQ Pride parades began.

"Stonewall 50 represents the achievement of the unified LGBTQ community in creating transformative social change," said Don Gorton, Chair of the Stonewall 50 Boston Pride Committee. "The Boston Pride Committee invites LGBTQ people and our allies to participate in this momentous Golden Anniversary."

The Community Forum on June 3rd is being held to discuss the significance of Stonewall and the 50th anniversary. The speakers and panelists will give their vision for the future of the LGBTQ+ movement for addressing intersectional forms of oppression. There will be keynote speeches by Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, former Obama White House Aide and Director of External Relations for the National Center for Transgender Equality; and Amy Hoffman, Author of An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News and veteran of the early LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement in Boston.

After their keynote speeches, Freedman-Gurspan and Hoffman will join panelists Dale Mitchell, Grand Marshall of this year's Boston Pride parade and a veteran of the Stonewall Riots, Gary Daffin, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, and Elijah Oyenuga, Senior Peer Leader for Boston GLASS a/k/a LGBTQ+ Social Services. The panel will be moderated by Sue O'Connell, longtime co-publisher of Bay Windows, New England's largest newspaper serving the LGBTQ community and host of "The Take" on NECN in partnership with NBC10 Boston Telemundo, the exclusive broadcast partner of Boston Pride.

Boston Pride also named Marsha P. Johnson as the Champion of Stonewall Honorary Marshal for the 2019 Annual Boston Pride Parade. Champion of Stonewall is an honorary designation conferred by the Boston Pride Committee. Johnson, a gender non-conforming African-American activist and icon, was one of the most prominent participants in the Stonewall Inn riots.

Other events to commemorate Stonewall 50 include:


June 2019, historic sites around Boston

  • Banner Displays co-sponsored by the History Project and the Pride Committee, at sites relevant to LGBTQ+ history in Boston selected by community vote, announcing Stonewall 50


    Saturday, June 1, 2019, 7:30 PM, First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street

  • Pride Hand-in-Hand: Juventas New Music Ensemble concert to observe the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and launch of the modern LGBTQ+ equality movement, with new music by LGBTQ+ composers


    Monday, June 3, 2019, 7:00 PM, Faneuil Hall Boston

  • Stonewall 50 Community Forum at Faneuil Hall; Keynote Addresses and Panelists speak on Stonewall, the 50th anniversary, and their vision for the future of the LGBTQ+ movement for addressing intersectional forms of oppression.


    Wednesday, June 5, 2019, 6:30 PM, Rabb Hall, Central Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street

  • Screening of "Stonewall Uprising," the PBS/WGBH American Experience Documentary about the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, Co-sponsored by the Boston Public Library ("BPL")


    Thursday, June 6, 2019, 6:00 PM, the Commonwealth Salon, Central Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street

  • "Author Talk" featuring Russ Lopez, author of the soon-to-be-released Hub of the Gay Universe, a history of the LGBTQ+ presence in Massachusetts from the Pilgrims Landing in 1620, to Question 3, the anti-trans referendum defeated in 2018, Co-sponsored by the Boston Public Library ("BPL")


    Monday, June 10, 2019, 7:00 PM, Commonwealth Salon, Central Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street

  • Panel Discussion organized by the Gay and Lesbian Review featuring its collection of essays "In Search of Stonewall," moderated by Publisher Richard Schneider


    Saturday, June 15, 2019, 2:00 PM-4:45 PM, Teen Central, Central Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street Co-sponsored by the BPL and BAGLY

  • Intergenerational Dialogue about Stonewall 50, bringing together older LGBTQ+ activists and LGBTQ+ youth to share perspectives about the significance of Stonewall, past, present, and future


    Tuesday, June 25, 6:00 PM, Commonwealth Salon, Central Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street

  • Author Talk, featuring John-Manuel Andriote, author of "Stonewall Strong", soon to be released in paperback, an examination of what LGBTQ+ struggles and successes reveal about resilience and community Co-sponsored by the BPL


    The 2019 Pride Week kicks off with the annual Flag Raising at City Hall Plaza on Friday, May 31 and continues through Tuesday, June 11. The annual Boston Pride Parade and Festival are on Saturday, June 8.

    NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston, and NECN is the official broadcast partner of 2019 Boston Pride.


    About Boston Pride

    Boston Pride produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness in Greater Boston and beyond. Fostering diversity, unity, visibility, and dignity, we educate, communicate and advocate by building and strengthening community connections. Boston Pride Week 2019 takes place from May 31 — June 11.

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