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Stonewall at 50: How it Played out in Newspapers

This is a guest post from Amber Paranick, who does great work over at the Headlines & Heroes Blog, which chronicles the Library’s vast collection of newspapers and comics. Here, she looks at how one of the seminal moments in gay rights — the Stonewall Rebellion, which took place 50 years ago today — was portrayed in newspapers at the time.

The Stonewall uprising was a series of six-day protests that began in the early morning of June 28, 1969, and centered around the Stonewall Inn, a gay tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village on Christopher Street. This particular event (also called the Stonewall rebellion or Stonewall riots), represents a turning point in the movement for LGBTQ rights. Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970, marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall uprising with an assembly on Christopher Street and the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history, covering the 51 blocks to Central Park.

The Stonewall uprising was widely covered in the underground press or alternative newspapers such as Village Voice (New York, NY), Rat Subterranean News (New York, NY), East Village Other (New York, NY), The Berkeley Barb (Berkeley, CA), The Los Angeles Free Press (Los Angeles, CA), Quicksilver Times (Washington, DC), and Great Speckled Bird (Atlanta, GA). Underground press publications started during the radical movements of the 1960s and these papers often played an important role in the U.S. media landscape by covering stories and topics that were underreported by their mainstream counterparts. The Library of Congress has an Underground Newspaper Collection on microfilm that includes several hundred newspaper titles that thrived in the 1960s and early 1970s, most of which are concerned with themes or subjects of particular reference to the era.

“Thousands of Homosexuals Hold a Protest Rally in Central Park,” New York Times, June 29, 1970

As we celebrate Pride Month at the Library of Congress, we invite you to visit the Library of Congress and have a look at our myriad newspaper collections to find other articles that commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

Discover more:

  • Search and browse issues of the Washington Blade, Washington, D.C.’s principal lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) newspaper through DigDC, a portal to selected digital collections from DC Public Library Special Collections.
  • An open-access digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines, and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries is available on the Independent Voices website.

“STONEWALL INCIDENT,” East Village Other, July 9, 1969

“GAYS HIT NY COPS,” Berkeley Barb, July 4-10, 1969. Source: Independent Voices digital collection.

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