Local Commentary

Editorial: A Welcome to ‘Stonewall 50’

The Falls Church News-Press is pleased to team up with the Social Justice Committee of Falls Church and Environs to invite the entire community to a free event at the fellowship hall of the historic Falls Church Episcopal this Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The uprising was a three-day pitched street battle in late June 1969 between police attempting to raid and arrest patrons of a gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York and that bar’s patrons and supporters in its immediate area who resisted in what became the spark to ignite the modern movement for LGBTQ equality. It was truly a turning point, as immediately arising from it came a flurry of organizing activity all across the country of the “Gay Liberation Front,” and Nick Benton, our founder, owner and editor, was a founding member of a chapter in Berkeley, California in 1970.

That term took its name from the anti-Vietnam War movement also surging at that point. The anaconym, LGBTQ, refers to lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning.

This Sunday’s event, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall incident, begins at 4 p.m. at the church fellowship hall. It will commence with the reading and presentation by Falls Church Mayor David Tarter of a proclamation marking the event originally presented at the Falls Church City Council meeting of June 10 and of an ordinance ordering the flying of the LGBTQ “Rainbow Flag” at City Hall this month (as is now happening.) A panel discussion of the movement, one participant being Don Davenport, a person who was actually there 50 years ago and has a very vivid account, and local LGBTQ leaders with expertise on the movement, will lead a discussion. It will conclude with a festive reception at Clare and Don’s Beach Shack up the street, where its back room will become a piano bar featuring show tunes and free refreshments.

Falls Church has its own history advancing this cause. Not only did the movement’s early hero, the poet Walt Whitman, attend to injured soldiers at the historic Falls Church, converted into a hospital during the Civil War (a fact yet to be confirmed, but it’s being worked on), but in 2006 the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce became the only Chamber in Virginia to go on record opposed to the Marshall-Newman Amendment to outlaw same-sex unions in the Virginia Constitution, and in 2014 the tenacious Falls Church Episcopal’s “continuing Episcopalian” congregation finally won a more than seven-year battle to reclaim its church property from a band of defectors who voted to leave because of the denomination’s election of an openly-gay bishop in 2003.

That victory has contributed enormously to the increasingly welcoming and open living environment for everyone in the wider Falls Church community. We warmly invite all friends of the News-Press and of social equality to Sunday’s events.

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