Stonewall Veterans to Lead PrideFest Unity Parade

The 2009 Central PA PrideFest Unity Parade will be headed by the Stonewall Veterans Association. The organization’s executive committee consists exclusively of actual participants of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the event honored as the birth place of the modern gay civil rights movement.  2009 is the 40th anniversary of the rebellion.

 

Parade Chair Mark Smith says “We’ve signed a contract to have four Stonewall Veterans appear at the beginning of the parade.” The group will be by Bikers United and Silent Witness of Central PA.

 

In June of 1969, Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn was a place for the glbt community to gather. It was one of the first establishments in which lgbt people, including teenagers, could feel free to be who they were. The Stonewall was a place where people could dance with whomever they chose, at a time when it was illegal for men to dance together.

 

All that changed on June 27, 1969, when the New York City Police Department raided the Stonewall bar looking for various violations of liquid laws and city ordinances, taking away the security of the community that had gathered at the bar. As result, there were five inconsecutive nights when the glbt community and their supporters fought back.

 

Protest signs read: “Gay People, Gay Power, Gay Unity, Gay Rights, Gay Marriage.”  This event became a historical turning point, when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn decided they would no longer hide from society. Instead, they demonstrated and demanded their rights as human beings and American citizens. 

 

Jeff Clouser, President, Pride Festival of Central PA Board of Directors, says “SVA’s appearance fits in well with the theme of this year’s Pride Festival which is ‘Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights:  Stonewall Rebellion 40th Anniversary.’”

 

Besides marching the parade, Smith says the festival is hoping to organize a Sunday event in which the SVA presents a first hand account of the historical Stonewall rebellion. The group will host a booth at the festival and collect donations to fund its educational, community-building, and outreach programs.  Programs, as well as shelter, food, and medical care for Stonewall veterans. One of the goals of the SVA is to create a permanent Stonewall Veterans Memorial Monument in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Info: www.STONEWALLvets.org; Stonewall Veterans’ Association, 70-A Greenwich Avenue, Suite 120 Manhattan, NY 10011.

 

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