Early on June 28, 1969, New York City cops raided the Stonewall Inn, a club in Greenwich Village that was owned by the mob and offered refuge to the LGBTQ community (and sold liquor without a license). Raids weren’t uncommon, but usually bent cops tipped off the bar first.
Not this time.
The police arrested thirteen people—staff for selling bootlegged booze, customers for violating laws on “gender-appropriate” clothing. But patrons and neighbors didn’t disperse. Instead, they gathered outside and watched a cop club a woman over the head as he forced her into a paddy wagon. She cried out. They responded, launching bottles and stones at the police. When the cops holed up inside the Stonewall, the crowd set it on fire. (Firefighters put it out.)
A riot ensued—and the uprising became a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States.
The first large-scale pride parade took place one year later. Ever since, June has been Pride Month in most of the U.S.—but not in Raleigh.
Durham and Raleigh both host Pride events in September, and for nearly a decade, Out!Raleigh has drawn thousands downtown in May. But there’s never been a month-long Pride observation in the City of Oaks.
On that fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall, that’s changing.
“I think that this is something Raleigh needs,” says Videri Chocolate Factory general manager Roxanne Lundy, the brains behind Raleigh Pride.
Along with Trey Roberts of WakeUP Wake County and Josh Lamm of Raleigh Provisions, Lundy has spent the last several months organizing the monthlong celebration. Raleigh Pride, which kicks off June 1 and will benefit the LGBT Center of Raleigh, aims to create a sense of awareness and inclusivity through family-friendly events, concerts, and parties, and visible support from local businesses.
The organizers say they don’t want to supplant Out!Raleigh or the parade in September. Instead, they want to create something that coexists with these events.
Lundy got the idea from a visit to New York City during Pride month. Everything “was decked out” for Pride, she says. “I couldn’t believe that Raleigh didn’t have that.”
She first reached out to the Center to create a Pride-themed chocolate bar, then, with Lamm and Roberts, began contacting downtown businesses to encourage them to put on their own Pride-themed events and help raise money for the Center. The idea quickly gained traction: Mayor Nancy McFarlane offered her personal support. Tito’s Vodka has pledged to match donations to the Center up to $10,000.
“We have no direct hands in a lot of these events,” Lamm says. “They really were just super supportive of what we were trying to do.”
Some examples: Runologie will host the Run for Love 5K on June 1. Alamo Drafthouse has weekly Pride Screenings, with a portion of proceeds going to the LGBT Center. City Market will feature a Pride-themed Night Market. Several venues will hold panel discussions about everything from entrepreneurship to sexual health to the hospitality industry. There’s a chance to meet Raleigh City Council candidates on June 13 at Social 113. Concerts, drag shows, and night parties round out the slate.
But for all the celebrations, the organizers are careful not to overlook the history. The month’s marquee event—the Opulence Ball, June 22 at VAE Raleigh—will celebrate the Stonewall activists and the late Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman who was celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday the night the riots broke out and helped instigate the resistance to the police that night. (She later co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which helped young and homeless trans women of color.)
“None of what’s accepted now should come at the cost of history,” Lamm says. “None of that should be forgotten just because things are easier for certain individuals at this point.”
Contact editorial assistant Cole Villena at email@example.com. This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Marsha P. Johnson’s name the date of the meet-the-candidates forum.
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Before Stonewall, few gay writers dared to venture out of the closet. Fifty years later, we’re in a new struggle to keep those closet doors open. @Bookstr has selected 5 LGBTQ books to honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
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