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LGBTQI Awareness Month

April is the LGTBQI Awareness Month at the University of Rochester and to celebrate it we are sharing some LGTBGI historical moments. For more information about the events taking place on campus check out the University of Rochester | Pride Network and the UR Office for Faculty Development and Diversity website.

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One establishment where LGBT patrons found refuge was the mob-run Stonewall Inn. Bar-goers paid a $3 cover to enter and signed a register, often with a fictitious or humorous name. Bar management was often tipped off when the local police district planned a raid on the bar and would warn LGBT patrons by turning on the lights.

On the morning of June 28, 1969, instead of the usual command, the NYPD First District raided the bar. Drag queens and street youth fought back. There were reports of stilettos, bottles, coins, bricks and debris thrown. The altercation spilled into the streets and more queer street youth joined in the uprising. As word spread, more LGBT people from surrounding neighborhoods joined the riot. The rebellion lasted six days and marked the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

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ACT UP protest at the FDA

On October 11, 1988 ACT UP had one of its most successful demonstrations (both in terms of size and in terms of national media coverage) when it successfully shut down the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for a day. Media reported that it was the largest such demonstration since demonstrations against the Vietnam War. At this action, activists demonstrated their thorough knowledge of the FDA drug approval process. ACT UP presented precise demands for changes that would make experimental drugs available more quickly, and more fairly. "The success of SEIZE CONTROL OF THE FDA can perhaps best be measured by what ensued in the year following the action. Government agencies dealing with AIDS, particularly the FDA and NIH, began to listen to us, to include us in decision-making, even to ask for our input” (Douglas Crimp, 2011,”Beofre Occupy: How AIDS Activists Seized Control of the FDA in 1988,” The Atlantic.



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Compton’s Cafeteria Riot

The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. This incident was one of the first recorded transgender rebellions in United States history.

The Tenderloin location of Compton's at 101 Taylor Street (at Turk)—open from 1954 to 1972—was one of the few places where transgender people could congregate publicly in the city. Three years before New York’s Stonewall uprising, a trans woman at Compton’s Cafeteria, sick of the continued harassment she and her community experienced at the hands of the San Francisco police department, threw her coffee in the face of the officer who grabbed her arm. Other patrons joined the fray; the confrontation erupted into riot of thrown dishware and overturned tables, following the police out onto the street as they called for backup. 

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First Gay Pride

After the Stonewall uprisings in 1969, many LGBT people -- even those who did not witness the rebellion -- were inspired to contribute to the cause. Gay rights had entered the national spotlight. LGBT people began organizing, protesting and mobilizing. Along with Frank Kameny, Craig Rodwell, Randy Wicker, Barbara Gittings, Kay Lahusen and many others, the Mattachine Society picketed in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia a year after the Stonewall Riots. The event was called the Annual Reminder. The protest was quiet and organized, to the dismay of Craig Rodwell. He felt that Frank Kameny and Mattachine's methods of calm protest were not enough.
Rodwell returned to New York City and organized Christopher Street Liberation Day. The march, held on June 28, 1970, was the first gay pride march in the U.S. It covered 51 blocks from Christopher Street to Central Park. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.
Today, LGBT pride parades are held annually in multiple cities and countries throughout the world. The month of June is widely considered Gay Pride Month.
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The Rainbow Flag

San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker popularized the rainbow flag as a symbol of LGBTQ pride and diversity in 1978. This version is also sometimes called 'the freedom flag'. The different colors symbolize diversity in the gay community. For the 25th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, held in 1994 in New York city, a mile-long rainbow flag was created and post-parade cut up in sections that have since been used around the world. The flag was originally created with eight colors, but pink and turquoise were removed for production purposes, and since 1979 it has consisted of six colored stripes. It is most commonly flown with the red stripe on top, as the colors appear in a natural rainbow. 

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