Entertainment Weekly


In June 1969, a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations erupted at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Fifty years later, two rioters share memories of being at the spark of the LGBTQ rights movement.

IN 1969, THE VERY EXISTENCE OF QUEER PEOPLE WAS ILLEGAL IN AMERICA. THEY COULDN’T DRINK. THEY COULDN’T GATHER PUBLICLY. THEY COULDN’T SHOW AFFECTION WITHOUT FACING A NIGHTSTICK. Outside of a sliver of Greenwich Village—the famed Christopher Street—to be completely invisible was considered a matter of survival in New York City. Thus, Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn—a dimly lit dive bar, which operated under mob control—was a refuge, the one place where a true rainbow of LGBTQ folks came together to celebrate themselves with (watered-down) drinks in hand and music pulsating through their veins. “You could dance!” Mark Segal, 68, recalls.

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