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The History of Homosexuality: Stonewall

stonewall inn riots 1969 gay rights

Stonewall Inn, 1969. Wikimedia Commons

Queer bars have existed for centuries, and have been raided by the police for just as long. The Stonewall Inn was no different.

After the Second World War and well into the Cold War, American law enforcement, led by the FBI, deliberately targeted homosexuals for prosecution. In a three-year period from 1947-50, 17000 federal job applications were denied, 4380 people were discharged from the military, and 420 dismissed from government jobs because of suspicions about their sexuality. It was the period known as the Lavender Scare, and plenty of other institutions soon took part. The US Postal Service recorded addresses where “homosexual material” was delivered; local state ordinances were passed to close down gay bars and outlaw cross-dressing, and city police forces did regular “sweeps” to rid the streets of anyone perceived to be homosexual; colleges expelled professors whose teaching was too liberal; and anybody caught in a compromising situation was publicly humiliated in the press and usually jailed or sent to a mental institution.

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Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging