If LGBTQ+ history were like Christian history, the Stonewall Uprising would be 0 AD. Everything began there. Everything happened because of it. Every twink, every Pride blackout, every video of a gay porn star launching his butthole at you for the Running Butthole Challenge … It’s all possible because of Stonewall.
Or so we’ve been told.
According to a recent New York Times article, there were actually several Stonewalls BEFORE Stonewall. As early as 1959, queers were rioting in the streets and causing police to question their anti-homosexual policies. To celebrate these proto-Stonewalls, we’ve listed them here and scored them on how Stonewall-y they are.
Los Angeles, May 1959: The Cooper Donuts Uprising
After police performed yet another routine illegal round-up of drag queens, trans people, and gay hustlers at LA’s Cooper Donuts, the crowd revolted and started hurling coffee, donuts, trash, and utensils. The police fled.
Score: This was very similar to Stonewall — all the way down to the not-actually-dangerous hurled items — but on a smaller scale. We award it 7 out of 10 Stonewalls.
Philadelphia, July 1965: The Independence Hall Rally
On July 4, 1965, early 40 marchers descended upon Independence Hall to politely protest the government’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people. The goal of this organized demonstration of LGBTQ+ resistance — one of the first in history — was to present LGBTQ+ people as respectable and heteronormative.
Score: 0 out of 10 Stonewalls due to its lack of trans people performing arson.
New York City, April 1966: The Julius’ Sip-In
In the ‘60s, bars were not allowed by the New York State Liquor Authority to serve alcohol to LGBTQ+ people. (Imagine LGBTQ+ today being denied alcohol; there would be another Stonewall.) As a way to draw attention to this very homophobic rule, a group of sassy queens ordered a beer at Julius’ bar, an unofficial gay bar in Greenwich Village. Upon receiving their drink, they then announced that they were gay — thus forcing the bartender to deny them the drink. They then made sure that someone nearby took a picture of this moment and disseminated the picture to the media. The resultant firestorm caused the Liquor Authority to change their stupid rule.
Score: 5 out of 10 Stonewalls due to its heroic stand against being denied alcohol.
San Francisco, August 1966: Compton’s Cafeteria Rebellion
What do you get when you combine drag queens, a hot summer night, and handcuffs? A party! Well, usually. In this case, you get a night of drag queens assaulting cops.
After police conducted a raid on Gene Compton’s cafeteria and manhandled one of the female diners, a crowd of 60 immediately began throwing things at the cops. They smashed windows, chased cops into the streets, destroyed a cop car, and set a newsstand ablaze.
Score: This nailed the spirit of Stonewall all the way down to the trans people committing arson. It gets 9 out of 10 Stonewalls.
New York City, June 28, 1969: The Stonewall Uprising
This is literally Stonewall.
Score: 10 out of 10 Stonewalls, for literally being Stonewall.