Celebrate the History of the Stonewall Riots by Following All These Rules!

LGBT history gets its first national monument and all that entails.


Everett Collection/Newscom

President Barack Obama's administration has just ushered in the first national monument recognizing a significant piece of gay history right as LGBT pride month comes to a close. The Stonewall Inn in New York City and the park and streets surrounding it have been christened Stonewall National Monument. (Check out the speed of government under the right circumstances: It already has a web page with the National Parks Service.)

Stonewall is a famous gay bar and landmark that is widely associated with the angry, frustrated foundations of the modern gay rights movement. Plenty of activism and public protest preceded the police raid on Stonewall in June 1969, but history has a way of wanting to register a tipping point for any social movement. Stonewall's as good as any, and it certainly set a tone for rebellion against the authority of the government and police (and media!) that presumed to tell gay and transgender people that they were dangerous and perverse, a threat to the social fabric.

And now all Americans of all sexual orientations and identities can visit and celebrate this monument to rebellion, kinship, and just a touch of hedonism.

Oh, also, there's a bunch of federal rules. The area of the monument includes nearby Christopher Park. Local journalist Matthew Chayes took this snapshot (used with permission) of a sign posted in the park showing all the rules put into place by the National Park Service, similar to those at all national parks:

Park rules
Courtesy of Matthew Chayes

The rules prohibit drinking alcohol, amplified sound (without a permit), and demonstrations (without a permit). The park also closes at dusk. What better to celebrate a protest that took place in front of a bar?

We checked in with National Parks Services to get a little more information. Acting Site Manager Allan Bailey explained that this sign is applicable only to the literal park section, not the entire monument. Stonewall Inn is privately owned and still in operation as a gay bar. The Inn's drag bingo and strip shows are not in any danger due to the designation as a monument. Bailey also noted that the park was hardly a free-for-all before the feds came around. It was operating under New York City's very extensive regulations.

Still, given that the Stonewall Riots were a massive, loud rejection of laws that punished certain kinds of disliked behaviors, a memorial that includes a park only open during the day that forbids alcohol and severely restricts protests is an unexpectedly amusing touch.