Still Standing

Stonewall Inn lands $250,000 donation to avoid permanent closure

The Stonewall Inn in New York City
The Stonewall Inn in New York City (Photo: David Hudson)

The Stonewall Inn, the site of the legendary riots that gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement, will remain open thanks to a hefty $250,000 donation from the Gill Foundation.

The staff at Stonewall had begun soliciting donations earlier this month, after closures due to COVID-19 threatened to send the bar into permanent closure. Owners Kurt Kelly and Stacy Lentz started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit funds to keep the bar operational during this period of social distancing.

Now The Washington Blade reports that the Gill Foundation, which specializes in providing grants to queer organizations across the country, has pledged a quarter of a million dollars to pay rent and utility bills during the shutdown.

Related: Peaceful NYC pride protest turns violent as police use gas on anniversary of Stonewall

“Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected. LGBTQ history is American history,” the Gill Foundation said in a 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.”

“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,” owners Lentz and Kelly said of the pledge. “We are beyond grateful for this generous pledge that will help us keep the history alive.”

The Stonewall Uprising began June 28, 1969, and persisted for several days. Patrons fought back against police brutality during a raid on the bar. The following year saw the first pride marches, which later became the pride parades and celebrations commonplace within the queer community during the month of June. In 2016, President Barack Obama declared the Stonewall Inn a national monument–the first-ever LGBTQ site designated as such.