It is official. New York City is now home to the country’s first national monument honoring the country’s LGBT community and their ongoing fight for equality.
One day before the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising — a series of riots against a police raid at Greenwich Village’s The Stonewall Inn which sparked members of the LGBT community to begin fighting for their civil rights — city, state and federal officials unveiled the official designation of the Stonewall National Monument.
The monument — which is the first of its kind in the country — will be located at Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn, but will also encompass the inn and the surrounding neighborhood.
“We have made a commitment in our second century that we will tell our complete story of America and I couldn’t be more proud,” said John Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “We in the National Park Service are committed to telling this story, to working with you, to making sure that we get it right and make sure we carry on the legacy of those that were here.”
The Stonewall Inn was designated a National Historic Landmark close to two decades ago and both the inn and Christopher Park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the weekend Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he was designating The Stonewall Inn as a New York State historic site.
And although Monday’s official announcement was a joyous occasion, filled with cheers and smiles, many also kept in mind the struggles that the LGBT community has faced — primarily back in 1969 during the raids — and are still facing.
“What was revolutionary in [The Stonewall Inn] wasn’t that it was run by the mafia, but that we were allowed to dance slow together,” said Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, who was present during the Stonewall Uprising. “We were humanized in there, no place else could we dance slowly.”
Other speakers also spoke about how although the designation marks a great step forward for the LGBT community, there is still more that needs to be done to make sure everyone is included.
“We want our history to be known and to reflect who we are, a nation that aspires to be as inclusive as it is diverse,” said Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Today is not the end of the chapter, but rather just the beginning.”
Officials also said that the Stonewall National Monument will now join the likes of “important places” such as Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Statue of Liberty.
Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated Monday’s designation but added that New York City has to continue being “a beacon of inclusion and understanding and respect” and New Yorkers have to show the rest of the country that “it works.”
“We would have celebrated what is good about today, we would have remembered the pain of the past either way, but Orlando put things in a sharper perspective, it reminded us what it means to keep fighting,” de Blasio said. “This was not a place where change happened easily, calmly or gently, it came through a fight, it came through a struggle and that fight must continue.”