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The Legacy of Stonewall

03 June, 2021 Share socially

The 28th June 1969 is remembered as one of the most pivotal moments in the fight for LGBTQIA+ equality. On the night in question, nine policemen entered and raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village, arresting all of the bar’s employees and violently cleared the venue of its patrons. The riots that ensued over the following five days, a series of spontaneous demonstrations organised by the LGBTQIA+ community, changed the course of history and accelerated the future of LGBTQIA+ emancipation and awareness.

Stonewall has since become a symbol of resistance and served as a catalyst for change inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community. The events at Stonewall sparked the formation of a number of grassroots groups outside of the city which quickly grew in number and influence. One year after the Stonewall uprising, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on 28th June 1970, triggering not just what would become an annual celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, but a means to protest against discrimination, inequality and intolerance.

Stonewall, the UK charity, was founded in 1989 - exactly 20 years after the riots in Greenwich Village. Named after the historic wave of events, Stonewall represents one of such charities inspired by the 1969 events. The organisation was established by political activists in order to specifically lobby the UK government against section 28 of the Local Government Act that prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ by local authorities, including schools. It wouldn’t be for another 14 years until Section 28 was repealed in England, which the organisation was instrumental in achieving.

To date, Stonewall has been the most influential LGBTQIA+ lobbying organisation in Europe and has been central to a number of landmark policy and law changes in queer history. The charity’s accomplishments include: shaping the Equality Act to provide protection against discrimination, the recognition of anti-gay hate crimes in the Criminal Justice Act, amendments to the 2002 Adoption and Children Bill to be more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ families, as well as equalising the age of consent to 16. Evidently, more than just a celebration of the queer community, the organisation exists as a continual vehicle for positive change within society.

Similar charities and organisations exist throughout the world. In the US, Equality PAC is the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQIA+ Equality Caucus which is dedicated to achieving full legal and societal equality for queer Americans. The charity financially supports the election of LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies who are committed to passing the Equality Act LGBTQIA+ civil rights bill. Internationally, ACT UP, a grassroots political group founded in New York in 1987, works towards ending HIV, a condition which has disproportionately affected the LGBTQAI+ community. The organisation works towards supporting and improving the lives of people living with the illness, through medical research, direct action as well as working to change international legislation and public policies. Maintaining the Stonewall spirit of resistance is at the heart of all these organisations, who never stop lobbying for a more fair and accepting future.

The Legacy of Stonewall

52 years after the historic events at Stonewall, Pride continues to offer us an opportunity to reflect on the queer community’s achievements and celebrate society’s progress whilst providing space for us to acknowledge the continued marginalisation of many queer people. Stonewall celebrates and champions LGBTQIA+ culture and people but they also act in a way which keeps the spirit of protest and resilience, which Pride is rooted in, alive.

In 2019, FutureBrand was briefed by NYC Pride​​​​​​​ to create an identity that marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. To succeed, it needed a distinct, ownable identity immediately identifiable with the LGBTQ+ movement. The team developed the idea of, ‘Millions of Moments of Pride’, designed to mirror the welcoming nature of Pride and offer a modern, connected and social take on what the movement means today. The visual identity of Stonewall 50 forms a vibrant communal tapestry reflecting the coming together of all different groups to celebrate one another.

Reflecting on the work and how the Pride moment can evolve further in years to come, Daniel Andersson at FutureBrand New York commented: “Even though 50 years has passed since Stonewall, the continued fight against oppression is more crucial than ever. The global need to inspire, educate and challenge the status quo will always be at the core of the movement."

Even though 50 years has passed since Stonewall, the continued fight against oppression is more crucial than ever. The global need to inspire, educate and challenge the status quo will always be at the core of the movement.
Daniel Andersson
Chief Creative Officer - FutureBrand North America