Newseum Exhibit Tells the Story of the Gay Rights Movement

Stonewall Inn

The Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s Greenwich Village, is considered by many to be the birthplace of the gay rights movement.

In June 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the city’s Greenwich Village. The raid outraged the gay community, galvanizing them to action and launching what would become a long struggle for gay rights.

In March 2019, 50 years after the Stonewall Inn raid, the Newseum will open “Rise Up: Stonewall and the Gay Rights Movement,” an exhibit that explores the modern gay rights movement in the United States. “Rise Up” tells the story of what happened at the Stonewall Inn, unpacking the myths that still swirl around it, and how it gave rise to a 50-year fight for civil rights for LGBTQ Americans. Over the years, activists have used their First Amendment freedoms to demand an end to discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in housing, employment and public accommodations.

Through powerful artifacts, images and historic print publications, the exhibit will explore key moments of gay rights history, including the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials; the AIDS crisis; U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s public coming out in 1987; the efforts for hate crime legislation; the implementation and later repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”; and the fight for marriage equality. “Rise Up” will also look at popular culture’s role in influencing attitudes about the LGBTQ community through film, television and music, and explore how the gay rights movement harnessed the power of public protest and demonstration to change laws and shatter stereotypes.

Beginning later this year and running throughout 2019, a series of programs will focus on the rise of the gay press, and how the news media helped and hurt the gay rights movement. Other topics will include pop culture and the gay rights movement, religious liberty and LGBTQ rights, and the future of LGBTQ rights. Follow the Newseum on social media, or check our Events page to learn about these upcoming programs.

“Rise Up” is being made possible by the generous support of a native Washingtonian and First Amendment advocate.

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2 thoughts on “Newseum Exhibit Tells the Story of the Gay Rights Movement

  1. This is terrific! But there is a major error in your reporting. The LGBTQ civil rights movement dates back to at least 1950 with the founding of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles. The first newsletter for lesbians was published in 1947. And the first pro-gay magazine, ONE, began publication in 1953. Stonewall is a key turning point, a major catalyst, and an iconic event, but it was not the beginning. You can listen to pre-Stonewall stories about the movement from the people who changed the course of history on my podcast, Making Gay History.

    • Thanks for your interest in the Newseum’s future exhibit, Rise Up: Stonewall and the Gay Rights Movement, which will indeed explore the history of the movement prior to the Stonewall uprising. Though the events at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 helped catalyze the modern movement, context about the events leading up to it will be an important part of the exhibit story. We will tune into your show, and invite you to come to the Newseum to do a podcast on the exhibit!

      Thanks from the Newseum team

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