In September, the city of Miami will play host to a first-of-its-kind exhibition when Art After Stonewall opens to the public. The groundbreaking collection of art focuses on the struggles and triumphs in the two decades following the historic uprisings in Greenwich Village in 1969.
Fifty years ago, New York watched as an embattled LGBTQ community pushed back against a system that had persecuted them for decades. When six police officers raided Greenwich Village’s Stonewall Inn just after 1 am on June 29, things quickly turned ugly. A crowd began to grow outside the dingy little club as a line of drag queens, gay men, lesbians, and other members of New York’s LGBTQ population were lined up and marched outside the little bar. Of the 13 people initially arrested that night, some were to be charged with inappropriate gender apparel, one of a bevy of crimes designed to out and then publicly ostracize members of the LGBTQ community.
When the crowd of 100-plus people tried to stop the police from physically abusing the bar’s patrons, a fight broke out. The police barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall to escape the outraged crowd. By the time reinforcements arrived to rescue the cops, the powder keg had been lit. What followed was an escalating series of conflicts that became known as the first major event in the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
In addition to drawing the world’s attention to their cause, the Stonewall Uprising encouraged hundreds of artists to express themselves freely. The result was a powerful exploration of sexuality, identity, and culture that had never been seen. Now, for the first time, the photographs, paintings, and videos that came to life in the wake of the Stonewall rebellion are coming to the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University.
Considering Miami’s history as one of the most prominent battlegrounds in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights it seems fitting that of the three cities enjoying the exhibition, the Frost Art Museum is the only location showcasing the entire collection under one roof.
Between September 14 and January 5, Art After Stonewall will proudly showcase some of the most talented artists from the LGBTQ community, those men and women who found the courage to pick up their brushes and cameras and take up the fight begun in that dingy, little bar fifty years ago.