Monday, June 29, 2009

Hate Crimes after Stonewall

Yesterday marked the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of protests commonly considered to be the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States. In the early morning of June 28, 1969, police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. Raids of this nature were typical of the homophobic climate at this time. Protests formed outside the bar as Stonewall patrons and passersby fought back against police brutality. Thirteen protesters were arrested.

The police aggression that sparked the riots at Stonewall was, by all accounts, a type of hate crime. And while this type of violence against the queer community is no longer officially endorsed by federal or state officials, it still exists today. In 2008, nearly 1,500 hate-motivated crimes were committed against queer-identified individuals or organizations. Unfortunately, physical violence is a very real threat for members of the queer community.

Of course, some progress has been made in the realm of civil rights for LGBTQ individuals: same-sex marriage has been legalized in 5 states, many states allow same-sex adoption, and there has been a growth in the representation of queer individuals in the media. But with the threat of physical violence still looming over our heads, it's difficult to be comforted by these achievements.

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