The Gill Foundation is stepping up to save the historic Stonewall Inn from closure.
The foundation, started by gay tech entrepreneur Tim Gill, has pledged up to $250,000 to match others’ contributions to the bar, located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the Washington Blade reports.
The inn, site of the 1969 uprising that helped launch the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, was shut down for a time due to the global pandemic and has recently begun serving customers outside, but it has still been in danger of permanent closure because of lost revenue. There are two ongoing crowdfunding campaigns for the bar, one to pay its staff and the other to meet ongoing expenses such as rent, insurance, and utilities. The Gill Foundation’s pledge will be earmarked for the latter.
“Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected,” Gill and Scott Miller, who cochair the foundation, said in a Facebook statement. “Queer people of color — including trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major — led the uprisings against police brutality at Stonewall and in doing so helped spark the movement for LGBTQ equality. We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.” The announcement came Sunday, the 51st anniversary of the riots.
The area around the inn is designated as a national monument for its historic significance, but this designation does not bring federal funding to the bar itself. It was the first site associated with the LGBTQ+ rights movement to receive national monument status.
The inn received some funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, enacted by Congress to help small businesses weather the pandemic, but it was less than the owners expected. The bar’s ongoing expenses include $40,000 a month in rent, co-owner Stacy Lentz told CNN.
Lentz and co-owner Curt Kelly issued a statement of thanks to the foundation. “As the first and only LGBTQ National Monument, Stonewall is home not only to the history of our community, but also the history of our city and country,” they said. “We are beyond grateful for this generous pledge that will help us keep the history alive.”
The foundation also recently pledged $50,000 to the groups benefiting from a Pride Live Stonewall Day event, held last Friday: Trans Lifeline, the TransLatin@ Coalition, Brave Space Alliance, and the Ally Coalition.