From Stonewall to Florida: The Ongoing Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights

1968, the year before the Stonewall Uprising, our nation was turned inside out with two shattering assassinations, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. The country was in shock as it headed into a national election. 

King and Kennedy represented hope and the promise of an America poised to realize its potential. The assassinations robbed marginalized communities of their quest for the American Dream. 

Then in the early hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided a small gay bar in the West Village of New York City. The patrons fought back, demanding to be treated as Americans, demanding to live lives as promised by Reverend King and the Civil Rights Movement and by Senator Kennedy in the halls of Congress. 

For multiple nights, the queer community took to the streets, and the world would never be the same again. The flame of hope flickered back to life, and in 1970, Pride was born, paying tribute to the uprising and the promise of equality. New organizations sprung up, and over the next few decades, we witnessed marriage equality, the right to adoption, protections in the workplace, housing, healthcare, and more. 

Now, in the 21st century, LGBTQ+ rights are under attack across the country, with Florida at the forefront.

In our state, we have seen the implementation of extremist laws and policies that seek to censor and shun LGBTQ+ Floridians. Over the past several years, Florida has sought to: 

  • Ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors
  • Restrict gender-affirming healthcare for trans adults
  • Ban trans adults and minors from participating in sports
  • Criminalize trans individuals for using restrooms aligned with their gender identity
  • Censor books and classroom instruction that mention LGBTQ+ identities
  • Target books with LGBTQ+ characters as “obscene material” 
  • Force teachers not to use trans children's preferred pronouns and chosen names
  • Bar transgender residents from changing their gender on their driver’s licenses

While this list might not encompass all of the harmful laws and policies that have impacted LGBTQ+ Floridians, it highlights the stakes we face during this election year. Do we want to be in a state where the promise of equality and freedom is denied to us?

As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and head into the presidential elections, our community has the opportunity to show up united yet again. The LGBTQ+ community, which lives in every community, invites everyone to come together under the rainbow flag and bring forth a rebirth of democracy and freedom—one that includes every American who has ever dreamed of a better world. 

Pride Month honors a protest that started a movement. This struggle for liberation will continue until all LGBTQ+ people are free and equal. At Stonewall, we demanded that we be treated with dignity and equality. It remains our solemn responsibility to keep this dream alive and hold a little bit of Stonewall in our hearts, especially in Florida.