History will be made at Stonewall once again.
The inn, which is located in New York’s Greenwich Village, was the site of the June 28, 1969 riots which are considered the symbolic start of the modern day gay rights movement. In 2016, former President Barack Obama designated the inn, an adjacent park and its environs as the country’s first national monument to LGBTQ rights. With this designation, the 7.7-acre area became federally protected to ensure its preservation for future generations.
So it’s only fitting that the Stonewall National Monument will soon become the home of the first rainbow flag to be permanently placed on federal land and maintained by the National Park Service. The flag will replace the New York state flag on a nautical flagpole outside Stonewall and be raised in a dedication ceremony Oct. 11, which is also designated as National Coming Out Day.
Activist Michael Petrelis, who spearheaded the effort, said in a Thursday statement that the news was bittersweet given that many in the LGBTQ community are concerned for their future under President Donald Trump, who ran on an explicitly anti-queer platform.
“It is a victory for our community to have these symbolic colors flying majestically over our Stonewall, designated as a National Monument by President Obama, even as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are under attack by the current regime in power,” he said.
The significance of the date wasn’t lost on Petrelis, who likened Trump’s stance on LGBTQ issues to that of former President Ronald Reagan, who didn’t publicly acknowledge the AIDS crisis until 1987. By that point, more than 20,000 Americans had died from HIV/AIDS-related causes.
“As we gather today, we are reminded of another Oct. 11, 30 years ago,” he added, “when the names of fallen comrades were symbolically celebrated on another national monument ― the AIDS Quilt ― during the reign of another president who waged an attack against us.”
Another LGBTQ rights activist, Ken Kidd, told Newsweek that he was surprised plans for the flag display got approved under the Trump administration.
“Our rainbow colors flying in tandem with the stars and stripes is a source of inspiration, a recognition of equality, a recognition of a struggle for equality,” he said, “that is not over by any stretch of imagination.”
For more ways to combat bigotry, check out the Queer Voices newsletter.