Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
We wanted to take a moment to remember and celebrate one of the events that gave birth to the LGBT+ rights movement.
Designed for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, our collection of four mugs memorialise and celebrate the uprising. The photographic mug features a quote from Sylvia Rivera, an incredible trans activist who witnessed and took part in the riots. Our two ‘The first pride was a riot’ mugs celebrate the uprising itself and the two rainbow mugs are a testament to the vibrancy and positivity of the ongoing LGBT+ rights movement.
What were the Stonewall Riots?
The early hours of June 28th 1969 saw violence break out during a police raid at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York. Frequented by the gay community, the Stonewall Inn was well used to being raided, but this night was different as the patrons and community pushed back against the brutality of the corrupt police force. Spurred by the manhandling of a drag queen as she was forced into the back of a patrol wagon, the gathering crowd started hitting back, forcing the police to take refuge in the Stonewall Inn – which then itself became the target of bottles and stones before having its door beaten down by an uprooted parking meter that had become a makeshift battering ram.
“We all had a collective feeling like we'd had enough of this kind of shit. It wasn't anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration... Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us....”
The police, humiliated and beaten were forced to retreat but returned in greater numbers. Forming a phalanx they slowly marched forward, attempting to clear the streets. But the crowd openly mocked the charge, forming kick lines across the street from the advancing police.
“I just can't ever get that one sight out of my mind. The cops with the [nightsticks] and the kick line on the other side. It was the most amazing thing... And all the sudden that kick line, which I guess was a spoof on the machismo... I think that's when I felt rage. Because people were getting smashed with bats. And for what? A kick line.”
Eventually, by the early hours, the unrest died down but the next evening saw hundreds of people flood into the area around the Stonewall Inn which despite being badly damaged had reopened. Something had changed though and a feeling of liberation swept through the community. No longer were the LGBT+ community going to be cowed into their secretive bars and hideaways.
“From going to places where you had to knock on a door and speak to someone through a peephole in order to get in. We were just out. We were in the streets.”
“It was clear that things were changing. People who had felt oppressed now felt empowered.”
Whilst it wasn’t the first action in the LGBT rights movement, the actions of those two evenings fortified the feeling that the community wouldn’t be ashamed but rather would stand together, proud of their identities and free to love who they wanted.
1970 saw the first Christopher Street Liberation day, marking the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The modern Pride movement evolved from this celebration to become the international month long celebration that it is today.