Aired Monday April 25th, 2011 at 9:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
Police raid gay bar in New York City
In 1969, homosexual acts were illegal in every state except Illinois and gays frequently found themselves being hauled off to jail, their names splashed in the next day's newspaper. In the middle of the 19th century, most physiologists decreed homosexuality a mental disorder and often prescribed brutal treatments, including lobotomy. Even in Greenwich Village, where thousands of gay people moved to escape the constant oppression of their hometowns, patrons of gay bars were accustomed to police harassment. But on June 28, 1969, the gay community experienced what one Village Voice reporter who was on the scene called its "Rosa Parks moment," when the New York Police Department raided a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. For the first time ever, patrons refused to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a violent three-day uprising that launched the nations gay rights movement.
Based on David Carter's book Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, American Experience "Stonewall Uprising" will premiere on Monday, April 25 at 9:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
Told through interviews with Stonewall patrons, reporters and policemen who led the raid, "Stonewall Uprising" recalls the fervently hostile climate that gays were forced to live in, when public service announcements warned youngsters against predatory homosexuals, respected news outlets reported on the "homosexual problem," and police setups were rampant. Being arrested could cost one their livelihood since licenses to teach, practice law, medicine or even cosmetology, were frequently denied or revoked.
But 1969's so-called "Summer of Love" would be a time of radical change across the nation's gay community. At the height of that summer's social turmoil, New York's gay community triggered three nights of rioting, beating back an army of tactical police armed with tear gas and billy clubs. Once the dust settled, the world realized a movement had been born. Exactly one year later, America saw its first Gay Pride Parade as thousands marched up Sixth Avenue in New York. Says a man who was part of that historic day, "It's very American to say 'this is not right.' It's very American to say, 'you promised equality, you promised freedom.' And, in a sense, the Stonewall riots said, 'deliver on the promise.'"
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