Crowdfunding keeping 'history alive' as Stonewall Inn receives over half a million in donations

The Stonewall Inn was facing an uncertain future amid the financial pressures of lockdown but the generosity of the public and businesses is saving history.

Stonewall donations

The Gill Foundation has pledged to match up to $250,000 in crowdfunding donations to help save the Stonewall Inn from closure.

The Gill Foundation is run by gay entrepreneur Tim Gill and the donation will allow the historical bar to pay expenses such as rent, insurance and utilities.

Two crowdfunding campaigns for the Stonewall Inn and its staff were launched last week following concerns the historic site may face permanent closure amid the financial pressures of lockdown.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, queer spaces are confronted by a challenging time ahead due to the economic strain of prolonged closure. Situated in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn faces an uncertain future in terms of whether there will be a reopening.

“Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected,” Gill and Scott Miller, who cochair the foundation, said in a Facebook statement. “Queer people of color — including trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major — led the uprisings against police brutality at Stonewall and in doing so helped spark the movement for LGBTQ equality. We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.”

The Gill Foundation made the announcement on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

The Stonewall Inn has been a nexus point for the LGBT+ rights movement reaching across generations. In 1969, the community, led by queer POC, took a powerful stand against institutionalised inequalities and sparked a global uprising.

In 2020, 51 years later, people gathered once more outside the iconic LGBT+ landmark to protest against Black trans people murdered by transphobic violence and police brutality. As stated on the crowdfunding campaign page, “We worked diligently to resurrect [the Stonewall Inn] as a safe space for the community and to keep the Stonewall Inn at the epicenter of the fight for the LGBTQ+ rights movement. It has been a community tavern, but also a vehicle to continue the fight that started there in 1969.”

Stonewall Inn was named America’s first LGBT+ rights monument by former President Barack Obama in 2016. Speaking about the history of the site, he said, “They stood up, and spoke out, and over the course of the next several days, they refused to be silenced. The riots became protests; the protests became a movement; the movement ultimately became an integral part of America.”

Lentz and co-owner Curt Kelly issued a statement of thanks to the foundation. “As the first and only LGBTQ National Monument, Stonewall is home not only to the history of our community, but also the history of our city and country,” they said. “We are beyond grateful for this generous pledge that will help us keep the history alive.”

The Stonewall Inn Staff fund has received almost $50,000 in donations while the Support the Stonewall Inn fund has received over $300,000 in donations.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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