Amid a months-long shutdown due to the global pandemic, the Stonewall Inn, a cornerstone of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, has launched crowdfunding campaigns to keep it from shuttering for good. The bar, in New York City's queer mecca, Greenwich Village, is the site of the famed 1969 riots where LGBTQ+ patrons squared off with police. And it has since been named a historic landmark.
Organizers pulled together two crowdfunding campaigns to save the Stonewall Inn -- one for the staff who are out of work, and one to keep the lights on.
"We are reaching out because like many families and small businesses around the world, The Stonewall Inn is struggling. Our doors have been closed for over three months to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patrons, staff and the community," the campaign organizers write.
"Even in the best of times it can be difficult to survive as a small business and we now face an uncertain future...We resurrected the Stonewall Inn once after it had been shuttered- and we stand ready to do it again- with your help."
The message goes on to touch on Stonewall's cultural value:
"As you may be aware, The Stonewall Inn is the first national gay historic landmark and the birthplace of the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement. We celebrate and pay homage to those individuals who first stood up for gay rights and sparked the Stonewall Riots. Those brave souls who first stood up for their rights and the rights of others, triggered a global movement that continues to be celebrated world-wide via gay pride celebrations and parades.
"We worked diligently to resurrect it as a safe space for the community and to keep the Stonewall Inn at the epicenter of the fight for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. It has been a community tavern, but also a vehicle to continue the fight that started there in 1969. Stonewall is the place the community gathers for celebrations, comes to grieve in times of tragedy, and rally to continue the fight for full global equality."
The campaign to help support the Stonewall Inn's staff reads, "Everything that the Stonewall Inn is today is due to the tireless effort of our incredible staff. From the managers and bartenders to the barbacks and porters, our staff is the backbone of this institution of living history."
In 2016, President Barack Obama named the Stonewall Inn the country's first LGBTQ+ rights monument.
"The story of America is a story of progress. It's written by ordinary people who put their shoulders to the wheel of history to make sure that the promise of our founding applies not just to some of us -- but to all of us," Obama began in an address at the time he designated the inn as a monument.
"One of these special places is the Stonewall Inn. Back in 1969, as a turbulent decade was winding down, the Stonewall Inn was a popular gathering place for New York City's LGBT community. At the time, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender was considered obscene, illegal -- even a mental illness.
"One night, police raided the bar, and started arresting folks. Raids like these were nothing new -- but this time, the patrons had had enough. So they stood up, and spoke out, and over the course of the next several days, they refused to be silenced. The riots became protests; the protests became a movement; the movement ultimately became an integral part of America.
"Over the past seven years, we've seen achievements that would have been unimaginable to the folks who, knowingly or not, started the modern LGBT movement at Stonewall. Today, all Americans are protected by a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. 'Don't ask, don't tell' is history. Insurance companies can no longer turn you away because of who you are. Transgender Americans are more visible than ever, helping to make our nation more inclusive and welcoming for all. And one year ago this weekend, we lit the White House in every color -- because in every state in America, you're now free to marry the person you love."
Contribute to save the Stonewall Inn and to support the staff.