Public Exhibit to Celebrate Stonewall Riots' 45th Anniversary

BY SAM SPOKONY | A Greenwich Village resident and community leader plans to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots by creating a public exhibit along Christopher Street, which she hopes will help revitalize the many small businesses around the famous site.

The “Stonewall 45” project by Susanna Aaron, a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 2, aims to line the storefronts of those businesses — including the famed Stonewall Inn itself — with 24 posters describing the historical context of the riots, which began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969.

“I feel it’s a missed opportunity that Christopher Street doesn’t really market itself by taking advantage of its role in history,” said Aaron, who is not gay but once lived on Christopher Street and still owns property there. “Too many people still don’t know the history of Stonewall, and I feel like the street would benefit from a greater cultural presence, a greater historical anchor.”

Aside from well known bars like the Stonewall Inn, Aaron added that she’s already gotten a diverse array of other businesses onboard, ranging from the Leather Man, a sex toy outlet, to Doodle Doo’s, a children’s hair salon. In addition, she said she has been working with historian David Carter — author of the book “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution” — to ensure the accuracy of the public displays.

Aaron hopes to present the “Stonewall 45” exhibit throughout the last two weeks of June, to also coincide with the city’s Pride Parade and related celebrations.

“I hope it brings a new look and a new perspective to Christopher Street, by showing off our eclectic mix of businesses, while also simply promoting the idea of promoting LGBT history,” she said. “It seems like a perfect time, with marriage equality winning state after state, for us to all embrace that history.”