The Stonewall Riots Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

In the past decades, the struggle for gay rights in the Unites States has taken many forms. Previously, homosexuality was viewed as immoral. Many people also viewed it as pathologic because the American Psychiatric Association classified it as a psychiatric disorder. As a result, many people remained in ‘the closet’ because they were afraid of losing their jobs or being discriminated against in the society. According to David Allyn, though most gays could pass in the heterosexual world, they tended to live in fear and lies because they could not look towards their families for support. At the same time, openly gay establishments were often shut down to keep openly gay people under close scrutiny (Allyn 146). But since the 1960s, people have dedicated themselves in fighting for
homosexual liberation. Some have demonstrated their anger and concerns about prejudice against homosexuals in both riots and artistic forms. Therefore, these people seek to prove to the heterosexual world that homosexual ‘deviancy’ was a myth.
The media considers the1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City the spark of the modern gay rights movement. This occurred after the police raided the Stonewall bar, a popular gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Allyn argues that the new energy and militancy generated by the riot played a crucial role in creating the gay liberation movement. Arguably, the Stonewall Riots have come to resemble the pivotal moment in gay rights history largely because it provided ways for the gay community to resist the social norms. In fact, the riots increased public awareness of gay rights activism (Allyn 157). Gay life after the Stonewall riots, however, was just as varied and complex as it was before. In the following era, homosexuals took a variety of approaches to propagate their messages, which included not only the confrontational approach of the Stonewall riots but also in artistic forms such as short films, photography, and sculptures.
Although the Stonewall riots increase the awareness of gay rights, the 1980s AIDS epidemic was another turning point for the gay community. Thus many gay artists expressed their concerns and views through their art about how the society has ignored them in time of crisis. It was clear that massive numbers in the gay community were being infected with previously unknown blood borne pathogens that destroy the immune system. The government ignored the rise of the epidemic. For example, there were no AIDS-related research, prevention, and treatments. Instead, AIDS was originally framed by the media as a homosexual issue because the first individuals to contract AIDS were gays. Another right-wing idea was that gay men brought this disease onto themselves and that it was God’s punishment for their immoral behaviors. As a result, most people—especially gay artists expressed their anger and concerns through their art. For example, David Wonjnarowicz was diagnosed with AIDS and was not shy about expressing his...

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