In The Ongoing Struggle For Human Civil Rights, Stonewall National Monument Expands American History

Gay Liberation Sculpture
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PRIDE V. PREJUDICE

By: Deborah L. Martin

Gay Liberation Sculpture
“Gay Liberation,” sculpted by George Segal, was unveiled in 1992 at the northern boundary of Christopher Park, directly across the street from Stonewall Inn. The four figures were meant to demonstrate the public comfort and freedom to which the LGBTQ community aspired at the time.

1969 was one of those years. The summer of love, the anti-war movement, the sexual revolution—a seismic cultural shift was in the wind. Haight-Ashbury was hippie nirvana, and a little festival called Woodstock was on the horizon. In the West Village, however, there was a storm brewing. New York City’s gay population, tired of being harassed by the police, took a stand on Christopher Street in front of a members-only bar called Stonewall Inn. The riots, which morphed into protests, represented the first volley in the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights. The protestors organized into civil rights groups, and the first pride celebrations occurred two years later, around the country.
In 1994, the Organization of Lesbian and Gay Architects + Designers (OLGAD), made the earliest attempts to get Stonewall and LGBTQ history recognized on the National Register. The prevailing attitude was that a riot should not be commemorated, and the project languished until the second term of President Barack Obama. On June 24, 2016, President Obama declared Christopher Park and 7.7 acres of streets and sidewalks (which includes the boundaries of the current Stonewall Inn and the adjacent building which was part of the original bar), a national monument. According to Allan Dailey of the National Park Service, “There was a recognition that the Parks Service needed to reflect the changing American family. The LGBTQ struggle is a struggle for human civil rights and it must be represented on the same platform as Selma and Seneca Falls. Harvey Milk told us we needed to be out. This park is OUT.”

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