One summer night in 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay dive bar in New York’s Greenwich Village (John Waters said the “uppity gays would never go there”). While the police raided Stonewall for not having a liquor license, many saw it as an excuse to target sex workers and criminalize the gay community. Then something happened – the LGBTQ community fought back in a way that had never been seen before. For six consecutive days, the gay community held a series of protests to fight for their rights, some held signs that read: “Stonewall means fight back!” and “Smash gay oppression!”
As gay pride parades kick off in various cities across America, they will have a different meaning with the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Even with the legalization of gay marriage in 2015 and ever-increasing trans visibility, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for the LGBTQ community in America. Artists, above all, are tackling these ideas and their works are on view this summer. From New York to Boston and Houston, here are some of the art exhibitions across the US that are celebrating Stonewall 50.