After warnings that it might shut its doors for good, people have raised $250,000 to secure the future of the Stonewall Inn.
The bar is considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, and was designated a US National Monument by Barack Obama in 2016 in recognition of the 1969 Stonewall riots – which were sparked by a police raid on the venue.
But despite its central role in LGBT+ history, the owners of the still-functioning bar warned ahead of the 51st anniversary of the riots last week that a prolonged period of closure due to COVID-19 has left its future in doubt.
People donate thousands to rescue Stonewall Inn.
The business warned: “Our doors have been closed for over three months to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patrons, staff and the community.
“Even in the best of times it can be difficult to survive as a small business and we now face an uncertain future. Even once we reopen, it will likely be under greatly restricted conditions limiting our business activities.”
Within just days, a crowdfunding campaign has already raised $256,900 to help secure the future of the bar – with more than 6,400 donors contributing an average of $40 each.
A further $39,500 has been raised online for a support fund set up for Stonewall Inn staff who are out of work during the Coronavirus pandemic.
‘We must preserve the legacy.’
Meanwhile, the pro-LGBT+ Gill Foundation, set up by software engineer Tim Gill, has pledged to match $250,000 in donations to rescue the historic venue.
In a release, co-chairs Scott Miller and Tim Gill said: “Queer people of colour – including trans women of colour 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 LGBT+ equality.
“We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.”
Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly, co-owners of the Stonewall Inn, added: “As the first and only LGBT+ National Monument, Stonewall is home not only to the history of our community, but also the history of our city and country.
“We are beyond grateful for this generous pledge that will help us keep the history alive.”
The Gill Foundation also announced it has committed $50,000 to trans groups including Trans Lifeline, the TransLatin@ Coalition, Brave Space Alliance and The Ally Coalition.