In the season so many associate with love, the New York Public Library is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. As noted in our previous issue, the Stonewall Riots launched the LGBT+ rights movement. Following the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots, the LGBT+ rights movement transformed from small pockets of activism to the mobilisation of thousands under the banner of Gay Liberation.
‘Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50’ chronicles the roots of LGBT+ activism with over 150 photographs and publications on display. The New York Public Library also offers viewings of the exhibits online.
Upon first glance, the four themes of Love, Bars, Print and Resistance do not appear immediately related. Yet together, copies of Physique Pictorial, Gay Liberation banners and party invitations to the infamous Paradise George nightclub offer vibrant displays of the movement and all it entailed. The exhibit demonstrates how the power of the LGBT+ community dreamed up and deployed a liberation movement. Each hallway takes visitors through a history of unique circumstances which led to the formation of a rainbow coalition. It offers the ultimate display of social justice.
Undoubtedly, the exhibition places a significant emphasis on the history of the LGBT+ movement during the 1960s and 1970s. However, it cannot be understated how deeply these struggles continue to persist for the LGBT+ community today. Despite 50 years worth of campaigning and accomplishments, many of the struggles shown in the exhibition remain ever present.
The political nature of the exhibition resonated deeply within me. The message was clear – these pockets of activism began with ordinary people and as such, should continue to do so. Afterall, these were the very people who sparked the liberation of the LGBT+ community and we too, can continue their work. The fight for equal rights is not over by any means. But driven by the spirit of Stonewall, we may work towards a world in which love truly means love.