Book Shelf

The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History

The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History presents a broad overview and more than 200 primary sources on the LGBT rebellion that erupted when New York City police raided a Greenwich Village gay bar in 1969. The book explores the developments in the 1960s that culminated in the uprising, the explosion of LGBT protests and demonstrations in 1969, and the mass mobilization and political empowerment that followed. The introduction considers diverse perspectives on what happened during the Stonewall Riots, competing explanations for why they occurred, conflicting arguments about how they mattered, and critical questions about who today lays claim to the legacy of the rebellion. The documents include mainstream, alternative, and LGBT media stories, gay bar guide listings, state court decisions, political fliers, first-person accounts, song lyrics, and photographs. The book is national in scope and focuses on the years from 1965 to 1973.

For teachers and students, this is a useful classroom text on the Stonewall Riots, generally recognized as the most important event in LGBTQ history. For everyone fascinated by urban rebellions, political activism, and social justice, the book offers colorful descriptions of gay bars, campy stories of queer resistance, courageous accounts of movement protests, powerful narratives of police repression, and inspiring examples of political empowerment. As a primary source reader with an accessible introduction, the book generates excitement and enthusiasm about historical research and writing. Its publication in the summer of 2019 coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

After the introduction, the book proceeds in three parts. The first focuses on the pre-Stonewall era (1965-69), with chapters on gay bars and antigay policing, activist agendas and visions, and political protests. The second focuses on Stonewall (1969), with chapters on the inn and the riots. The third focuses on the post-Stonewall era (1969-73), with chapters on activist agendas and visions, political protests, and pride marches and parades.