To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Crossroads Fund is celebrating fearless queer-led organizing in Chicago through a podcast named “Queering Left.”
Queering Left is a series of interviews with organizers who have participated in transformative and visionary Chicago movements and organizations. These interviews will trace how being queer has been defined as a radical political act and how new generations of queer organizers have continued to evolve the definition of queer politics since Stonewall. We hope to illustrate how queer rights are intersectional. Queer rights are women’s rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, the fight for abolition, and more.
Crossroads Fund will be releasing one interview per month starting in July on our website and other platforms. Each interview will be available to stream, download, or read and will feature other photos, videos, and other media that provides a glimpse into the powerful organizing work of the activists.
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My name is Emmanuel Garcia and I’m a worker at Crossroads Fund. Crossroads Fund is proud to bring you a special series called “Queering Left” which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
On June 28th, 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York, police raided the Stonewall Inn, which was one of many gay bars in the area. Police raids were a regular occurrence at gay bars as the gay community, especially drag queens, crossdressers, and transgender people, were targeted by the police. At the time, there was a New York statute that allowed police to arrest people wearing more than three “gender inappropriate” articles of clothing. That evening though, things didn’t go as planned for the police as the people at the bar refused to be harassed or intimidated and would not be taken quietly. In response to their continued criminalization and led by the most marginalized including drag queens, sissies, transgender people, butches, prostitutes, and homeless young queers- the Stonewall Inn bar goers started a riot. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of Stonewall were soon joined by others who started throwing objects at the police while shouting “gay power.” The rebellion escalated and Stonewall went up in flames as fire from the riot consumed the building. The next evening, on June 29th, people returned to the burned out Stonewall Inn and, the police followed, which resulted in a second evening of rioting. There are many stories about what made this the boiling point for those at the Stonewall Inn that evening. Often cited but never confirmed are Hollywood actor and gay icon Judy Garland’s death on June 22nd, 1969, the political upheaval of the country due to the war in Vietnam, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement. This tumultuous event was a flashpoint in the gay community and gave birth to the Gay Liberation movement and many of the freedoms that the LGBTQ community now enjoys.Since Stonewall, much has changed in the daily lives of many people in the broad LGBTQ community but much has stayed the same in the lives of the most marginalized. Many of the struggles for justice that trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and others guided after Stonewall continue today. These fearless leaders built coalitions and cultivated movements against systems of oppression that continue to impact the many different communities of people in the LGBTQ community.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Crossroads Fund is chronicling fearless queer-led organizing in Chicago through a multi-media project named “Queering Left.” Queering Left is series of interviews with queer, trans, and gender non-conforming organizers who have participated in transformative and visionary movements and organizations. These interviews will trace how being queer has contributed to radical political work and how new generations of queer organizers have continued to evolve the definition of queer politics since Stonewall. The interviews will illustrate how queer rights are intersectional. Queer rights are women’s rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, the fight for abolition, etc. Crossroads Fund is a public foundation in Chicago. We provide funding to community organizations, activists, and movements who are working for racial, social, and economic justice. Many of the activists who will be featured in the interviews are our grantees, donors, and other partners who have built Chicago into the flourishing queer organizing community that we have today.
For more information, please visit our website: www.crossroadsfund.org.