LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The nation on Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City.
That event is considered the incident that kicked off the civil rights movement for the LGBTQ community.
But many here in Los Angeles believe the movement started here — and two years earlier.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Laurie Perez reported from Venice where earlier today LA unveiled its very first Rainbow Crosswalk.
The crosswalk is located in front of the Roosterfish which from 1979 to 2016 was the longest continuously operated gay bar in California. On the other side is a plaque dedicated to the Stonewall uprising.
Fifty years ago this evening, NYPD’s Public Morals squad raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Raids were common back then and at the time people being arrested clashed with police. That night, patrons stood their ground and refused to be pushed around.
“We started throwing things at them, we threw anything we could find on the street,” says Mark Segal.
He was 18 that night and day one of his work as a gay rights advocate. From the riots that night, he later interrupted a live CBS News broadcast.
Segal led a life of activism. Young gay men like Grant Turck are grateful for men like Segal, their activism and how life has changed for gay people in America.
“I’m just so thankful for the people who came before me who were willing to risk everything, their jobs, their livelihoods, to fight for our rights,” Turck says.
As president of Venice Pride, Turck helped install LA’s first rainbow crosswalk as a public show of support.
As Perez notes, such a crosswalk would have been unthinkable 50 years ago — a time when the public patio in front of Silver Lake’s Black Cat Tavern would have also been impossible.
“I think about it all the time because the window that’s open now was boarded so that the people who were unnaccepting of homosexuality couldn’t see what was going on inside,” says Black Cat manager Ambrea Miller.
At this establishment, two years before Stonewall, hundreds demonstrated after a violent New Year’s Eve raid that labeled some patrons as sex offenders — for just kissing.
“The police raided what was a gay bar, for no reason besides that they saw people having a celebration — they kissed at midnight and then the raid began,” Miller says.
Tonight, some stopped to reflect how much has changed and — how much has not.
“And I just feel lucky I live in a place that probably was ahead of the curve, you know, so I couldn’t imagine living in a place where there was so much persecution going on of a certain culture,” says Tony Mian.
“There are many states in this country where you can still be fired if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and that’s not right. We need to work to change that,” Turck says.