Illegal to be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall

Protest buttons and ribbons

In June 1969, LGBTQ+ community members resisted a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in lower Manhattan. The museum marked this 50th anniversary with a display featuring objects from its collections that put the history of that memorable event within a larger and longer experience of being gay.

See the objects featured in the display on the companion website.

About the Artifact Walls

Artifact walls highlight the depth and breadth of the collections in hundreds of linear feet of glass-front cases lining the center of each floor. They reflect the museum’s core mission to collect, study, and exhibit objects from our nation’s rich and diverse history.


The following clips are from the Smithsonian Channel program Smithsonian Time Capsule: Beyond Stonewall:

“The Day the Stonewall Riots Shook America”

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“This Man Became the First Openly Gay Bishop in America”

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