By Gareth Harris
Fifty years ago, police stopped by the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village during the early hours of 28 June 1969, checking apparently for alcohol law violations. But the employees and patrons of the gay bar resisted what had become regular harassment by the authorities, sparking six days of protests—and changed the course of LGBTQ+ history.
“The rebellion became the flashpoint that sparked the long uphill battle towards equality for all members of the gay community,” says the official website for the Stonewall Inn, which was designated a national monument by President Barack Obama in 2016.
The milestone anniversary of Stonewall this year has also thrown into sharp focus how artists and activists have engaged with LGBTQ+ issues and how queer cultural practices have developed since then. A large survey, Art After Stonewall, 1969-89—which opened jointly at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery (until 20 July) and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (until 21 July), and travels to Columbus and Miami—includes more than 200 works divided into seven sections, covering a wide range of topics, from gender and body, touching on fluid sexualities and identities, to Aids and activism.