LGBTQ History Month honors Stonewall in opening ceremony
The Gender, Love, and Sexuality Spectrum club at Baruch College hosted the LGBTQ History Month opening ceremony in the second-floor lobby of the Newman Vertical Campus on Oct. 4.
The ceremony was the first of multiple events that are happening this month to celebrate the LGBTQ community and its history. Upcoming events include a discussion called “Our Stories, Our Voices” and an open mic night, both of which are happening on National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11.
This year’s LGBTQ History Month marks an important time in the community’s history because it is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall Inn, along with many other bars during the 1960s, served as a refuge for those in the LGBTQ community.
At that time, being publicly gay was illegal and many people went to bars where they were accepted and could openly express themselves.
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was one of the most popular venues, in part because the bar was so cheap due to its connection with the mafia and also because it was an open space for dancing, drag queens and expressing oneself however they wanted to.
In the early morning of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Inn and aggressively arrested many of the patrons.
A crowd consisting of hundreds of people had formed outside the bar and became angry at the police officers’ behavior.
Eventually, a riot began and people began to throw things at the officers, including coins, bottles and cobblestones. The fire department and riot squad arrived to disperse the crowd and rescue those who had locked themselves inside the bar for safety.
The Stonewall riots continued for five more days and became one of the landmark events in LGBTQ history.
The event was hosted by G.L.A.S.S. was co-sponsored by Encounters Magazine, PAWS and the Undergraduate Student Government of Baruch.
The opening ceremony kicked off the month with free cupcakes, water bottles and rainbow stickers. Additionally, students could pick up food from USG’s waffle station and LGBTQ artist cards from Encounters.
The clubs involved with the month’s opening ceremony and future events aim to attract more attention to the month’s celebrations.
“The purpose of this event that’s happening in the lobby right now is a lobby takeover, just so we can show awareness for the LGBT community that’s at school because a lot of people are LGBT and they are allies but they don’t even know that we have an LGBT club at school,” G.L.A.S.S. President William Lin said.
“This is just to bring awareness to the entire history month. It’s not a school thing, it’s a community thing.”
The anniversary of the Stonewall riots happens to fall on the same time period as Baruch’s 50th anniversary of becoming an independent college within the CUNY system.
“This year is the 50th year since the Stonewall [riots] and the 50th year of Baruch, so it’s pretty much like a decades theme celebration of progress happening throughout the years for the LGBTQ community and for Baruch in general,” G.L.A.S.S. Treasurer Vitaliy Stolyarchuk said.
“All the events that are coming up, today we’re just introducing a small taste, a little taste of what’s to come.”
The LGBTQ History Month co-sponsors were also eager to help celebrate this milestone for the community, with each club adding to the event in their own way, said Encounters’ marketing director Justin Crespo.
“G.L.A.S.S., or Cassandra [Castellant], more appropriately, who’s part of the committee hosting the ceremony, had reached out to us and a select few other clubs because we have been closely involved in past semesters, past years,” Crespo, a marketing analytics major, stated.
“Encounters is an ally of G.L.A.S.S. We co-sponsor each other very often for our events, so she just felt it was appropriate to reach out to us. We kind of offer a new side to the ceremony; Encounters is an art and literary magazine, so we had the chance to offer something different.”
Students who attended the event not only enjoyed the free food and merchandise but also were able to enjoy the vibes of acceptance emanated.
“It’s important for us to know what’s our history, I mean, I think with any other community if you don’t know your history you won’t be able to move forward,” transfer student Emil Gavrailov said.
He added, “It’s important for us to know how we got to rights that we have these days, it’s important for us to also know that we actually, with the current administration, lose some of our rights.”
“I think it’s important for us to educate and advocate for our current and future rights, or possibly for what might be taken away from us.”