NEW YORK - The modern-day gay rights movement started at Manhattan's Stonewall Inn after the riots of 1969.
The Stonewall Inn is now a landmark and part of the Stonewall National Monument, but in 1969, it was part of a gay scene that was known, yet not open. At the time, showing same-sex affection or dressing in a way deemed gender-inappropriate could get people arrested, and bars had lost liquor licenses for serving LGBTQ customers.
The police raid on the bar began early in the morning of June 28, 1969. The nightspot was unlicensed, and the officers had been assigned to stop any illegal alcohol sales.
Patrons and people who converged on the bar on Christopher Street resisted, hurling objects and at points scuffling with the officers.
Protests followed over several more days. A year later, LGBTQ New Yorkers marked the anniversary of the riot with the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. Thousands proudly paraded through a city where, at the time, LGBTQ people were largely expected to stay in the shadows.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for the Stonewall National Monument visitor center in Greenwich Village last week was a step toward the future but also a look at the past.
The center, which will be built next door to the historic Stonewall Inn, is expected to open in summer 2024, according to Ann Marie Gothard, board president of Pride Live, an advocacy group that will help manage the center with the National Park Service.
The Stonewall National Monument, which was dedicated in 2016, was the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ history. It is based in tiny Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn
At Friday's visitor center groundbreaking, FOX 5 NY's Stephanie Bertini interviewed a man in his 80s who goes by the name Tree, who was a bartender at the Stonewall Inn long before gay rights were established.
"I went to jail so many times just for being in a gay bar," he said.
Tree lived through the Stonewall uprising, the time in history when the LGBTQ community stood up to the law and pushed back.
"The night of the rebellion, I was in there dancing," Tree said. "We heard screaming and we knew it was another raid."
A year after the uprising, the first Pride March was held in New York. It began as a civil rights demonstration. Over the years, it became an annual event marking the struggle for civil rights.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.