I graduated from college in 1976. I had only one gay classmate … or so I thought. Ten or fifteen years later, I attended a reunion and learned that maybe 20 percent of my classmates are gay. Of course, I know now that my gay classmates were gay when they were in college, too. They didn’t become gay, they were always gay; they just “came out.” Today, almost everybody knows someone who is gay or lesbian. That’s a good thing, I think.
This hasn’t always been the case. Up until 50 years ago, almost all gay and lesbian people kept their sexuality secret. The world was overtly prejudiced against them. Many were physically assaulted and injured and sometimes even killed. If employers found out, they would almost certainly be fired.
Gays would patronize bars that catered to the gay community. These were places they could feel safe and be themselves. The police knew about these bars and sometimes would harass and intimidate their patrons, often without cause. The police raided one of these bars, the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, on June 28, 1969. The patrons resisted the raid, resulting in what has become known as the Stonewall Riots. Since then, Stonewall has come to be recognized as the start of the gay rights movement.
Our Love Lives Here event celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the progress the LGBTQ community has made. We hope this event will allow Elmhurst to demonstrate our solidarity and support for the LGBTQ community, and affirm our commitment to equality in all human rights.