Star-studded ceremony kicks off 50 years of Pride celebration in NYC

June 28, 1969 riot at Stonewall Inn sparked gay rights movement in US

NEW YORK – A star-studded opening ceremony was held Wednesday night in the Big Apple as the world gets ready to celebrate 50 years of Pride this weekend.

Whoopi Goldberg kicked off the global event -- World Pride -- as millions of people are remembering the riot that sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States.

That famous incident happened at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969.

The bar, owned by the Mafia in the 1960s, was a safe place for gay Americans in a time when being homosexual was a crime and most of society saw them as deviants, deserving of discrimination and violence.

Police often targeted Stonewall, beating and arresting people.

But in the early hours of June 28, 1969, they had enough.

Riots broke out as people began fighting and pushing police back.

The uprising lasted several days, catapulting the fight for gay rights in America.

Fifty years later, millions of LGBTQI people and their allies will arrive in New York City to celebrate the victories and march on for what's next.


"It's all about looking back, remembering our past. It's also about celebrating this very moment and it's also about counting the work," NYC Pride event manager David Correa said.  

For many people in the United States, what's next is the push for the Equality Act, which would offer equal rights and protections in the workplace and in health care across the country.

"I'm overwhelmed with emotion, honestly," actress Laverne Cox said at Wednesday's event. "To be an openly transgender black woman living -- living my dream -- it feels like a miracle."

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