On June 28, 1969, patrons and employees of the Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, were peaceably gathered when suddenly, New York City police officers violently dragged them into the streets and began making arrests. Although the New York City Police Department was known to raid bars and restaurants patronized by the gay and lesbian community, this night was different.
People fought back.
The Stonewall Inn was a place of refuge for drag queens and the gay community, a place where people could express themselves openly and socialize without worry amid an unfriendly sociopolitical climate. Police raids brought constant discrimination, harassment, humiliation, and violence to what was otherwise a safe haven, and people were fed up.
In the streets, a crowd of locals gathered in support of Stonewall employees and patrons, and the confrontations escalated into a riot. The six days of protest and violent clashes with police that followed came to be known as the Stonewall Riots. Although Stonewall wasn’t the first milestone in the history of the gay rights movement, it put it in the political spotlight and sparked a wave of LGBT+ political activism and gay rights organizations.
One year after the riots began, thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park. As the parade of people filled the streets of Manhattan, they chanted, “Say it loud, gay is proud.” Thus, America’s first gay pride parade was born.
Today, we celebrate Pride Month every June to commemorate the fight for civil rights during the Stonewall riots and the many contributions of the LGBT+ community.
“It is important to understand lessons from the past, as they help us learn how we came to be,” said Amy Bang, Sr. Manager, Diversity and Inclusion. “As we celebrate Pride this month, we acknowledge our Union Pacific and BRIDGES LGBT+ leaders and allies that work to create belonging and inclusion in our workplace and communities.”
In honor of this important month, we’re featuring six members of BRIDGES, Union Pacific’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employee resource group (ERG), and their experiences in the transportation and logistics industry.