WNYC-FM, NANCY (NEW YORK CITY) -- For the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, we talk about what actually happened and where we go from here.
Marc Stein is a historian at San Francisco State University. He explains what led up to that fateful night of June 28, 1969. Contrary to urban myth, Judy Garland’s funeral was not a factor.
“Revolutions happen not when conditions are at their worst and not when conditions are slowly improving, but when a period of improvement in social conditions is followed by rapid reversal, disillusionment and despair,” Stein says. “And there had been improvements in social conditions in the second half of the ’60s for LGBT people. And then there’s the election of Nixon in ’68 and his inauguration in early ’69. And then there’s a series of police killings of gay men in New York and on the West Coast in the months leading up to the Stonewall riots.
“I am more likely to argue that that growing sense of disillusionment, despair, that that what helped create the mood in the bar and the streets during the riots.”