New York's Stonewall Inn.

New York’s Stonewall Inn. Photo by Chris. Creative Commons license.

President Barack Obama this week declared New York’s Stonewall Inn the first LGBTQIA monument in history. The new national monument is the historic site of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 1969, in response to a police raid. (Pride month is also celebrated in honor of this uprising.)

“I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.” –President Obama

“The Stonewall uprising, led primarily by people of color and people of transgender experience, was a watershed moment in our nation’s history, sparking what many call the beginning of modern-day LGBT rights movements,” said Wendy Stark, executive director of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which primarily serves New York City’s LGBT community.

Related: When You’re Young, Queer, Black — and Unwelcome in the “Gay Mecca”

The naming of the historical monument came just before the first anniversary of the nation-wide legalization of same-sex marriage across the U.S., and two weeks after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The 7.7-acre monument to the Stonewall uprising — including the bar, Christopher Park and the surrounding streets and sidewalks — is a permanent reflection of the Obama administration’s progress toward protecting the LGBTQIA community and preserving its history. Many reflections of the Stonewall event are skewed and do not recognize the BIPOC/trans hand that lit the match that ignited the LGBTQIA movement.

The centenarian National Park Service has expanded efforts to tell more of America’s story, including its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative, launched in 2014, to identify places and events associated with the story of LGBTQ Americans. Earlier in 2016, Obama designated the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, a site that has been central to the fight for women’s equality for over a century.

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