"A true flag cannot be designed-it has to be torn from the soul of the people." Unknown
As each and everyone of you prepare to celebrate Pride this weekend, we here at Titania Soho are thinking back to a time when celebrating who you are wasn't even an option.
Fairy says, read on if you will...
It's 1960's America, and across New York City-from Greenwich Village to Manhattan, a series of riots are breaking out all over the city. The gay community are up in arms against a recent police raid that occurred during the early hours of the morning. The location-a tavern called the Stonewall Inn.
Police raids on gay bars were common place in 1960's America, but by this time, the gay community had grown increasingly weary of such regular occurrences, and it was about to get ugly.
Located in the hip and bohemian suburb of Greenwich Village--a haven for artists-and the cradle of the modern LGBT movement, the Stonewall Inn was about to secure its place in gay history.
Around 1.20am on 28th June, 1969, eight police officers entered the bar to inform it's 205 patrons that they were, "taking the place." Some might say that the police raid was legally justified, especially as the premises was selling unlicensed alcohol. But the gay community had finally come to the end of it's patience-especially as so many gay clubs and bars had already been closed down, and they were about to take matters into their own hands.
A night of violence had begun.
As pandemonium took place inside, word soon spread to the surrounding boroughs. People gathered on the street in quick numbers to witness stonewalls employees being arrested. But when three drag queens and a lesbian were physically forced into a police van, the crowd began throwing bottles in angry protest. Parking meters were ripped from the ground to barricade the police inside, and rubbish bins were set on fire. Meanwhile, inside, patrons were being pushed and shoved by police, with the tavern now ablaze in flames and fury.
Unfortunately for the police, the raid had not gone according to plan as the patrol cars responsible for taking the arrested patrons and the alcohol away, took longer than expected to arrive.
As rage and anger filled the night air, the crowd grew in large numbers, and as one bystander-writer David Carter later noted, "the police officers had become so afraid that they refused to leave the bar."
The final straw that broke the patience of the crowd came when a woman in handcuffs was led from the door of the tavern to a waiting police van. Several times she managed to escape while fighting with police in an aggressive charade that lasted for about ten minutes. Throwing obscenities at the police before being led away, she threw down the gauntlet to the crowd. "Why don't you guys do something?" And it was at that moment that the bystanders turned into a baying mob, erupting in explosive violence.
The police department, not use to such outrage, tried in vain to control the crowd-even managing to knock a few people to the ground, but the riots became so out of control that the tactical branch of the New York Police Department had to be called in to release the trapped police officers inside the tavern.
Finally, around 4.00am, the police had managed to clear the streets, but it was just the beginning. For the next six days, the gay community took to the streets in violent aggression.
The violence, of course, eventually reached its climax, and the aftermath of the riots were one of change and progress.
After the Stonewall riots, the obstacles faced by the gay community to become a cohesive community were many, but within six months, two gay activist organisations were formed in New York,and within a few short years, movements sprang up right across the world, from Canada to Western Europe.
FIRST GAY PRIDE MARCH
On June 28th, 1970, the first Gay Pride Marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to commemorate the anniversary of the riots.
Today, Pride events are held all over the world to mark the Stonewall riots, including, of course, here in the U.K. And we here at Titania Soho are no different!
We cannot wait to open our doors to all you fabulous and spirited party goers. We look forward to spending time with you, even for a moment, and hope you enjoy your time at Titania Soho, and wherever you choose to celebrate the weekend.
We are open from 12pm right up until 2am! Entertaining the crowd will be DJ Alpha and DJ Lady Lola, in addition to the many wonderful drinks we have on offer to tickle your Titania taste buds!
See you there!