The Stonewall Inn: How this local bar turned historical landmark helped launch the LGTBQIAA2S+ Movement.
As we continue celebrating the intersections of craft beer and Pride, we’re humbled to help tell the story of one of the most historical and critical moments for beer and the LGTBQIAA2S+ community. A story that begins in 1969 at the Stone Wall Inn, a local gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village that endures to this day as a National Historic Landmark and the birthplace of the gay rights movement.
Undoubtedly, 1969 will be one of American history’s most essential and transcendent years. Woodstock, the Apollo 11 moon landing, the assassinations of J.F.K. and Martin Luther King Jr., sweep the nation as 250,000 protesters march on Washington D.C. to protest the Vietnam War, and Sesame Street makes its debut on National Education Television. The old ways push back against the new ways, spearheaded by generations who fought in “the big one” and the youth of a nation “tired of seeing their friends die in a foreign country.” All of which make way for the 1970s – a decade defined by its own revolutions and American history.
Nonetheless, somewhere between all of this tension, the New York City Police Department decided to raid The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, sparking riots [sic] and violent protests for six days; which ultimately led, a few days later, to what is generally believed to be one of the first significant protest demonstrations for gay rights in a major U.S. city. One year later, in 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place around the country, and eight years later, the iconic rainbow flag became the official symbol of Pride. To this day, The Stonewall Inn Uprising is considered by many the birth of what we call Pride today.
While it would take nearly 50 more years of gay rights advocation, protesting, legislation, and organizing, in 2015, the Supreme Court officially legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. That being said, those 50 years were filled with people, activists, brands, and even breweries fighting for LGTBQIAA2S+ equality. While this has always included The Stonewall Inn, Beer is for Everyone takes a deeper look into how this local bar helped spark the first national Gay Pride Movement. In doing so, we discover the brewers, beer, and beer community who’ve assisted in playing a role and the initiatives currently underway for everyone to show their support for Pride.
Additionally, while we see The Stonewall Inn is where Pride began, today, it is still where Pride lives.
Who, What, Where is The Stonewall Inn?
Currently, The Stonewall Inn is co-owned by Stacy Lentx and Kurt Kelly, both activists in their own right, want people to come to celebrate Pride with friends and family “from around the corner to around the world.”
But, one cannot talk about The Stonewall Inn without the community that comes through its doors every night. With weekend events like “#?*! Me Up Fridays,” where patrons can enjoy two floors of Dance Parties hosted by Tiffany Anne Coke and Clarice Hart; and Saturday night’s “It’s Showtime!” where alternating queens kick off Saturday night with an unforgettable drag show.
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, patrons at 9 pm can enjoy the Piano Bar, with special guest pianists and singers – with Cabaret Shows on Tuesdays and the infamous Thursday Night Eight Ball Lounge. Like most bars, Friday at 5 pm opens their mics for a Karaoke Night you won’t soon forget.
The people of this fantastic local bar are the keepers of The Stonewall Inn’s history and legacy. Right off the bat, their website speaks such truths and, as we explained in this article, is not only where Pride began but where Pride lives.
How The Stonewall Inn Continues the Fight for LGTBQIAA2S+ Rights
There is a considerable gap between 1969 and 2015, when same sex marriage was finally legislated federally in the United States. And as we all know, there is still significant discrimination and hate aimed at our LGTBQIAA2S+ citizens in 2022. The Stonewall Inn has never ceased to support what it helped begin all those decades ago. While we will discuss the non-profit organization, the Stone Wall Inn Gives Back Initiative, the actual people and brick and mortar of The Stonewall Inn have continued to foster immense support as champions for gay rights.
The best way to show your activism is with your dollar, so it’s terrific that The Stonewall Inn has partnered with places like Brooklyn Brewery for their Stonewall Inn IPA Portions of the proceeds go to help LGTBQIAA2S+ communities around the U.S. and give beer patrons direct access to support The Stonewall Inn initiative. While The Stonewall Inn is helping activists and beer drinkers raise funds through the power of the dollar, they are also using their platform to hit the pocketbook of anti-LGTBQIAA2S+ lawmakers and brewmasters.
Last year in June of 2021, the owners of The Stonewall Inn announced their refusal to serve certain beers during Pride weekend – the busiest weekend for the local bar. Previously, in a form of protest, the iconic bar poured out Anheuser-Bush beers, which as a manufacturer, donated political contributions to politicians who have supported anti-LGTBQIAA2S+ legislation. The Stonewall Inn co-owners Stacy Lentx and Kurt Kelly said they would be initiating the ban in support of the “Keep Your Pride” campaign.
“We just felt Stonewall having the platform, the power to do this, it was important to stand up,” Lentz told reporters. “We really just want Anheuser-Busch to stop donating to lawmakers who are trying to legalize discrimination.”
This came during 2021, when more than 330 LGTBQIAA2S+ related bills were introduced through state legislations, with 115 targeted at trans children – 18 of which were signed into law. Most of these laws restrict trans children from competing in sports while banning medical care for trans youth and censoring LGTBQIAA2S+ related subjects in public schools.
In addition, The Stonewall Inn called on Anheuser-Busch to support The Equality Act after data from “Keep Your Pride” revealed that the beer manufacturers have made 48 donations since 2015 to over 29 lawmakers.
For future reference, some beers manufactured by Anheuser-Busch are as follows:
- Rolling Rock
- Shock Top
- Johnny Appleseed
- LandShark Lager
Over the years, The Stonewall Inn quickly discovered its power for activism and has since established a non-profit engine to go above and beyond the capacity of its actual brick and mortar.
The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative for Gay Rights
The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, also known as SWIGBI, is an official non-profit charitable organization that supports the struggles of the LGTBQIAA2S+ community and its citizens. The initiative asserts to eliminate social intolerance and create safe spaces to impact LGTBQIAA2S+ citizens both in the U.S. and abroad profoundly.
Their message is as follows from their website:
“Imagine a time when being LGTBQ+ meant being denied some of the most basic human rights guaranteed under the law… Over fifty years after the birth of the LGTBQ+ rights movement, countless LGTBQ+ Americans across the nation are still living in fear and often enduring acts of intimidation, hatred, and violence simply for who they are.”
The Stone Wall Inn Gives Back Initiative was inspired by the Stone Wall Inn Uprising of 1969 and continues the message of what launched the Gay Rights Movement to a broad spectrum of LGTBQIAA2S+. SWIGBI does so through fundraising and candid public dialogue, supported by awareness campaigns and educational programming aimed toward progress and equality for the LGTBQIAA2S+ community. The mission is also to slow the negative impact of ongoing acts of discrimination, harassment, and other intolerance aimed at the LGTBQIAA2S+ community.
Here is a list of highlighted events and notable partnerships in recent years with SWIGBI that have helped generate an incredible amount of awareness for impacted LGTBQIAA2s+ citizens.
- SWIGBI x Gotham FC T-Shirt fundraiser, with sales of the shirts fundraising for LGTBQIAA2S+ organizations in Florida and Texas.
- The New York Yankees Stonewall Scholarships, an annually-funded scholarship, grants recipients scholarships to one senior from each New York City borough. Now in its fourth year, the Yankees celebrate $10,000 scholarships to New York City public school seniors with outstanding academic achievement and meaningful impact on the LGTBQIAA2S+ community.
- Taylor Swift gave a surprise performance at The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The super pop star made an appearance at the legendary landmark playing an intimate concert for only about 100 people. As if the night wasn’t incredible enough, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson was in attendance. Later, it was shown on social media that the star honored Sara Bareilles with a cover of Brave.
- New York City’s police commissioner officially apologizes for the Stonewall raid nearly 50 years later. That’s right, a half-century after the Stonewall Inn Raid, N.Y.C. Police Commissioner James O’Neil apologizes, saying in a conference, “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong, plain and simple – and for that, I apologize.”