The Stonewall Inn, the gay bar that was the site of a 1969 riot credited with sparking the modern LGBTQ rights movement, will remain open thanks to a $250,000 donation after the establishment warned the coronavirus pandemic might force it to close permanently.
"Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected. LGBTQ history is American history," the Gill Foundation, the LGBTQ rights group that made the donation, said in a statement Sunday, the 51st anniversary of the uprising, according to the Washington Blade.
“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,” co-chairpersons Scott Miller and Tim Gill added. “We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.”
The bar was able to secure some funds through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but it was less than the owners expected and left them scrambling to cover the monthly rent of over $40,000, according to the foundation, the Blade reported.
Co-owners Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly said they were “beyond grateful” for the donation in a statement.
“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,” Lentz and Kelly said, according to the publication.
The uprising began June 28, 1969, during a police raid on the then-Mafia-owned bar, with crowds of patrons the police were attempting to arrest pushing back after an officer shoved one of them. The first gay pride marches were held on the anniversary of the riot the next year, and such events have been held in late June to commemorate the event ever since. In 2019, then-NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill formally apologized for the raid that sparked the incident.