Yankees plan to commemorate Stonewall Riots in 2019

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Last month, it was pointed out that the Yankees were the only team in baseball yet to host a Pride Night at the stadium for LGBTQ+ fans. SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the club plans to commemorate the Stonewall Riots next year. Martino notes that the Yankees had this idea in the works even before last month’s criticism about their lack of action with regard to LGBTQ+ events.¬†Martino also points out that he considers GM Brian Cashman and “some of his top lieutenants” as “relatively progressive on social issues.”

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan. At the time, police had been raiding gay establishments, revoking the liquor licenses of bars that welcomed gay patrons. Along with entrapment, police would commonly beat and sexually assault bar patrons during the raids.

On June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn. There were over 200 people in the bar and the police decided to arrest all of them and the bar’s employees due to a lack of cooperation. A crowd began to form outside the bar as police led the bar patrons into cars to be taken to the police station. As the crowd observed the police roughing up those being arrested, they began to verbally. Then pennies and beer bottles, among other things, were thrown at the squad cars. The cops tried to forcefully push one woman into a car. After being hit on the head by a baton, she shouted to the crowd, “Why don’t you guys do something?” The crowd erupted and a melee ensued. Later, the crowd hurled various objects including garbage cans, bottles, and bricks to break windows.

The New York City Police Department’s Tactical Patrol Force had to be deployed to rescue the cops from inside the Stonewall Inn. After they did, the TPF tried to disperse the crowd. The crowd responded by forming kick lines and chorus groups. The next day, the tattered remains of the Stonewall Inn had been sprayed with graffiti with gay pride messages. The riots lasted several more days. As a result, new activist groups were created, an evolution of existing activist groups that some felt were too mild. Gay pride marches occurred on Christopher Street on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Pride marches also occurred in Los Angeles and Chicago, which were the first gay pride marches in U.S. history. As the years went on, more and more cities joined with marches of their own which also resulted in gay rights groups in those cities.

Back then, gay rights were mostly the focus of the activism, which left bisexual people out. Transgender people were welcome in some ways and were not in other ways. Bisexuals weren’t officially represented by gay rights groups until the 1990’s. In more recent times, the LGBT initialism has added more letters, often represented as LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, and LGBTQIA. For those unaware, that’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. All have faced and continue to face discrimination in various ways, including by police.

So it’s good to hear the Yankees plan to commemorate the Stonewall riots on its 50th anniversary next year. The Stonewall riots were a watershed moment in U.S. history, as well as in gay rights history and New York’s history specifically. The Yankees’ plans will be a great way to show LGBTQIA fans that they are heard, respected, and welcomed in baseball.