The New York City LGBT Community Center, with support from Google, has created the Stonewall Forever Living Monument, a stunning digital tribute to LGBTQ history before, during, and after the Stonewall riots. Fifty years after the iconic rebellion broke out, people have a new way to digitally interact with the explosive moment. The installation is near the Stonewall Inn, designated a National Historic Monument by President Obama in 2016. Visitors to the site on Christopher Street can use their phones to scan the area for an augmented reality experience.
The center has also created a mobile app and a website to provide an experience that feels like walking alongside activists from the 1960s. The site includes incredibly evocative audio of voices from the uprising that play as you scroll through a rainbow of floating gems. You can click on the gems and watch powerful interview snippets from movement leaders. You can actually hear the voices of Marsha P. Johnson and Randy Wicker discussing the beginning of the police raid that triggered the rebellion and Martin Boyce describing how the riot broke out.
The project thoughtfully recognizes the groundwork that had been laid by activists in the years before the Stonewall riots. Activist Randy Wicker describes the first public demonstrations he was a part of in 1965 that established the "mind-set" that enabled the Stonewall rebellion. "It wouldn't have occurred to gay people to do anything publicly if we hadn't already started it!" he says. The site also features a photo of the 1967 Black Cat Tavern riots in Los Angeles, pulled from The Advocate's archives.
One of the most powerful pieces in the collection is a 1973 video of Sylvia Rivera giving a riveting speech at the fourth annual Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally. Despite attempts to prevent her from speaking, she took the stage and bellowed, "I have been beaten, I have had my nose broken, I have been thrown in jail, I have lost my job, I have lost my apartment for gay liberation. And you all treat me this way? What the fuck is wrong with y'all? The people are trying to do something for all of us, and not men and women that belong to a white middle-class white club, and that's what ya'll belong to. Revolution now!" A Latina who would today be called transgender, Rivera was speaking to a predominantly white cisgender audience.
That speech is essential to hear today, in light of the eight Black trans women who have been murdered this year, including the loss of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey over the weekend.
The digital monument expands past the moment of the Stonewall riots and chronicles activism then and now, including how the first Pride began, and concludes with a section on love and solidarity, with stories that celebrate "the richness of the LGBTQ community and its allies, demonstrating how love and solidarity keep us moving forward, together." The project aims to engage our complex collective history in a new way and encourages you to add your story to the monument by uploading a photo and a quote.
Dive into Stonewall Forever and add your voice to history.