Stonewall Inn: Why We Celebrate Pride Month in June, and What It Means for Fashion
Cities all across the globe come together in June to celebrate the month of LGBT+ Pride. The month of June is significant, as it commemorates a pivotal moment of LGBT+ community: the famous Stonewall Uprising that took place on June 28th, 1969.
This Pride Month is particularly significant as it marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising.
The Stonewall Uprising is an unfamiliar event to some, despite how much of a catalyst it was for LGBT+ rights. So, you may be asking; What is Stonewall? Why is Stonewall important? And what does Stonewall have to do with fashion?
What is Stonewall?
The Stonewall Uprising occurred across the pond in NYC. In 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a bar known for hosting the gay community. The bar operated illegally since liquor licenses were often strategically withheld from establishments associated with the gay community. At the time, it was considered illegal to wear clothes traditionally associated with the opposite sex. The law stated that individuals had to be wearing at least three clothing articles of their assigned gender at all times. During the raid, patrons that were dressed "illegally" were targeted by the police and arrested.
This law specifically targeted the LGBT+ community and their self-expression through clothes. Drag queens and kings were made a target due to the law, as well as cross-dressers - people who wore clothes typically for the other gender. The bar patrons were aware of the risk but still stood up to the law and were arrested.
Instead of allowing the police to push them aside, the patrons of Stonewall Inn resisted the mistreatment and a riot broke out. The police and the patrons clashed with each other, causing the riot outside of Stonewall Inn to last for five days with over 400 people involved. Stonewall was a call to action for equal rights. Through marches and riots, awareness was raised about the systemic mistreatment of the gay community; and giving a voice to a community that before was silenced. Stonewall was a pivotal event in the gay rights movement, inspiring Pride Month & the Pride Parades which we now celebrate in June each year.
How Did Stonewall Affect Fashion?
From the art of drag queens to gender fluid fashion, the LGBTQ+ community has been a huge inspiration in the fashion community. Many fashion houses have derived their inspiration from the underground gay club scene and the camp fashion of drag queens. And yet, the same community that inspires our fashions were once punished for expressing themselves through clothes.
At Stonewall, patrons of the bar were arrested for illegally dressing in clothes of the opposite gender.
The bar patrons were aware of the risks associated with their clothing, however, that did not stop them. Fashion is a form of self-expression and the LGBT+ community did not let targeted laws take that away from them. In the current day, experimental fashion is often encouraged. The fashion community continues to push the boundary of gendered fashion, celebrating the risk-takers. Fashion is not a uniform for everyone to wear. It is a form of self-expression that allows you to stand for what makes you feel like you. And that is why we love it.
Looking to get involved in the London Pride festivities?
London's pride parade will take place Saturday, July 6th. For more events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, you can find information here.