Editor’s Note: On my first Pride, four years ago, I went with my sister, my brother, and a few of my brother’s friends. The day started out as hanging out in a bar as my brother snuck me sips of unlimited mimosas, preparing for the parade, all while a drag queen hyped up the crowd of the café. It was my first time seeing a drag show, and it was invigorating and fun. That year we were supposed to walk in the parade with my brother’s company, but we missed our deadline. Regardless, we walked with the parade. And although I wasn’t completely out, seeing everyone flaunting their love for their significant others, flaunting their sexuality, and just celebrating together was infectious. For me it ignited a fire in me that made me realize, in some way, I wasn’t living to my full potential—I wasn’t being my real self.
My second Pride I went with my sister. On the Staten Ferry, crossing the Hudson bay to Manhattan we took gulps of a mix of fireball and apple juice (a nasty combination, I know). It was dreadfully hot. Because of that we stood on the sidewalk. In an effort to find a good spot to watch the parade, we grew incredibly tired and distracted. At the corner of the street protestors were reciting things from the Bible, and of course people weren’t having that. There was a girl in a tutu, blue hair, twerking in front of him chanting “I love dick, and eat a lot of clit.” (or at least that’s how I remember it). It doesn’t seem like it was very entertaining, but there was a certain feeling you got from seeing it, a feeling of belonging. The protestors were essentially bugs on the wall, jealous and annoyed at a really, really fun party. The point is it was empowering to see so many LGBTQ+ people celebrating themselves despite the protestors. Even a cop came over and told the protestors to leave. Shocking.
On my third Pride, I had a boyfriend and again we were supposed to march in the parade. This time with his company. Unfortunately (but fortunately for celebration) the parade was so large we lined up to march by 4:00, and didn’t start until after around 8:00. I didn’t stick around because we were hungry. We met up with a few friends, got some ramen, and then went out to a bar. I went with about five friends and the feeling of just celebrating a part of yourself that you’ve internalized to be bad for so long was so freeing. Each and every year my LGBTQ+ family grew, and each and every year I felt myself opening up, becoming braver, stronger almost.
All in all, I couldn’t help but be grateful to the movement of the Stonewall riots and those in the past who have fought for this moment in time that so many queer people could celebrate. It is then important to always remember the names and faces of those who came before us, and to understand the struggle of people like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson and others like them. It reminds us to always fight.
This article is a republished article from last year:
Under every rainbow flag being waved, every layered caked up drag queen’s face with colorful and exotic make up, and every pair of sparkly shoes dancing to LGBTQ+ pop anthem such as Born this Way by Lady Gaga, She Keeps Me Warm by Mary Lambert, and almost any song by Britney Spears, is a story of oppression, revolt, and, eventually, self-discovered love which all began at a small bar and tavern in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City, named the Stonewall Inn.
RYOT studio, an American immersive media company founded in 2012, which focuses on “the future of media by inviting our audience to be more than a witness,” decided to take on the story of the Stonewall Riots for the 50th anniversary.
Through augmented reality, RYOT brings to life the night of June 28th, 1969 when the LGBTQ+ community decided to fight back against years of abuse and oppression which resulted in the beginning of the gay rights movement in America.
The augmented reality features a virtual Stonewall, complete with five different characters who share their stories from the perspectives of rioters, policemen, and witnesses. Historical figures include Sylvia Rivera, a Latina American gay liberation and transgender rights activist; Raymond Castro, the first gay man to be arrested during the riots; Yvonne Ritter, a trans woman celebrating her 18th birthday the night of the raid on Stonewall; Lucian K. Truscott IV, a journalist covering the Stonewall Riot, and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, the leading police officer of the raid.
The augmented reality experience of the Stonewall Riots can be viewed through the article on the latest version of the HuffPost iOS app using an iPhone 6s or newer. The experience is not compatible with Android.
This article originally appeared in: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/experience-june-28-1969-at-the-stonewall-inn_n_5d014b63e4b0dc17ef0352c1