An activist who recalled the chaos of the 1969 Stonewall riots and other champions of LGBT causes joined federal officials Monday in Manhattan to formally dedicate the Stonewall Inn as the first national monument to gay rights.
At a ceremony outside the Greenwich Village bar, artist Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, 68, of Manhattan, who participated in the uprising, remembered Stonewall as one of the few places where same-sex couples “could dance slowly together” and “where the affirmation of being human came full force to me.”
Stonewall Inn, surrounding streets and nearby Christopher Park have been added to the list of national parks that commemorate civil rights movements, including Seneca Falls, N.Y. and Selma, Ala.
“The Stonewall uprising awakened a national consciousness to the humanity of LGBT equality,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama. She said Obama, “believes our national parks should represent the inclusive mosaic of the American history. And it reflects our continued work to perfect our union.”
Park rangers unveiled a brown sign Monday that read, “Stonewall National Monument."
Obama, who announced the designation Friday, did not attend. But elected officials expressed their gratitude, and state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) jokingly called him “our first gay president.”
The June 12 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. that killed 49 people was heavy on people’s hearts. Outside the Stonewall Inn, a memorial thick with flowers and rainbow flags was still spreading.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “If an Orlando can happen in this country, we are far from done.”