In the early hours of June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. This raid sparked what we now know as the Stonewall Riots, a six-day protest and fight with law enforcement. These riots were just the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States.
On Oct. 14, 50 years later, EMU students gathered in room 270 to learn more about and share their thoughts regarding Stonewall. Students had the option of reading five articles, each of them being a different perspective on Stonewall.
Many of the students said they were surprised to see the contrast of how society treated Stonewall back then versus how it's treated today.
Back then, newspapers weren't afraid to use phrases like "dyke" or "queen bees" to describe members of the LGBTQ+ community. In modern times, society applauds the bravery and courage it took for these individuals to stand up for themselves and their community.
Ariana Khan, the LGBT Resource Center’s Queer and Trans People of Color Collective coordinator, believes it's important for students to learn about and remember Stonewall.
"Stonewall is a really interesting piece of history because it exemplifies intersectionality and how things can brew over time," Khan said. "Stonewall was not a planned event, at least not on the side that it's remembered on. It was planned on the side of the current acting of legislation and this was their reaction."
Khan added: "It's an important look at race relations and LGBT history for sure, cause it's the start of pride parades and everything surrounding that. It's also really important to reflect on the fact that law isn't always just or correct."
Khan believes students can learn a lot from these brave, courageous LGBTQ+ individuals who advocated for themselves.
"I think the biggest thing is to know yourself, which is a huge thing that queer culture emphasizes as a whole," she said. "There were some articles that were blatantly dehumanizing and rooted in misogyny. Outlandish to look at now but back then, that was seen as normal commentary of these people."
Khan hopes that students were able to learn a lot at the event and took a message of hope with them.
"In the vast majority of the articles written now, as opposed to then, the tone shift is just unbelievable. It has gone from dehumanizing and cruel to celebratory and recognizing this as a turning point for LGBT history in this country."
Even though there are still a lot of improvements that can be made towards fair and equal treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, we should be proud of how far we have come since 1969.
The LGBT Resource Center has a few more events planned for this month, including QUEST Creativity Night on Oct. 24. Visit their website, emich.edu/lgbtrc, to learn more about their mission and upcoming events.