Small Conversations: The Stonewall Inn

Small Conversations: The Stonewall Inn

We’re stepping further into the future, which means we’re also embracing our self care as trans and nonbinary people more.  

Though the fight for trans rights and inclusion still goes on, we’ve come a long way to get to the point of recognizing that folks like us need specialized skin care, too and deserve that luxury just as much as anyone else. To celebrate where we are now, we have to know where we started.

Let’s take it all the way back to 1969, the era of hippies, rock n roll, and most importantly, civil rights. The Stonewall Inn, located at 53 Christopher Street in NYC, was a safe space where queer folks — particularly trans individuals — could come together and just… be. Since its opening in 1967, the spot was called “the gay bar in the city.” Because of discriminatory laws that criminalized gay and trans people, police raids were a common occurrence at Stonewall. On June 28, officers showed up for a surprise raid at Stonewall at around 1 a.m. and started to arrest people for not presenting as their assumed gender. Well, the people at the Stonewall Inn fought back. Each following night until July 3, the crowds of LGBTQ+ community members protesting outside the inn grew, reaching the thousands at one point. People passed out pamphlets with resources on them and threw things like bottles at the police as an act of resistance. During one night of the riots, police barricaded themselves inside the inn and protesters sparked a fire to get them out. By the end of the six day riot, 21 people had been arrested. 

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are two women who used the momentum of the Stonewall riots as inspiration to do more advocacy work in the gay community, which they devoted their lives to. Marsha and Sylvia went on to become icons in the LGBTQ+ community through their continued service for marginalized folks in the queer community. Marsha, a Black trans woman who identified as a drag queen (we’ve come a long way with language, y’all), famously said the P. in her name stood for “pay it no mind.” Sylvia, a Venezuelan and Puerto Rican trans woman, partnered with her longtime friend Marsha to create STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), an organization devoted to helping disenfranchised queer women of color.

Storme DeLarverie, a he/him lesbian, was another trailblazer during the gay civil rights movement. The self-described butch was born in New Orleans, and like many queer people, found solace and the freedom to be himself in New York City. Storme was present at the Stonewall riots, and witnesses say he was one of the first people to throw bricks. After the riots, he volunteered as a street patrol worker and was dubbed the “guardian of lesbians in the Village”.  

These trailblazing people, along with everyone else who stood their ground and fought for their rights during that hot summer of 1969, helped set the stage for the trans rights movement of today and make sure the “T” in LGBTQ+ was fully recognized. The following year, on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first Pride celebration (called the Christopher Street Liberation March) helped usher in the transformational new decade of the 70s. In 2016, President Barack Obama designated a national monument at Stonewall—the first one of its kind to represent the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

ENBY wants the spirit of all who came before us to be present because it's not just skincare, it’s the freedom to embrace who you are by taking care of yourself. Besides, you can’t have true inclusion until you show yourself some love first!