St. Mark’s Luthern Church Celebrates 50 years since NYC Stonewall Riots
This story was originally posted on KVRR on June 30, 2019. The original story can be found online here. By Danielle Church.
FARGO, N.D. — This weekend marks a historical milestone for the LGBTQ community.
As cities across the country put on their pride parades, KVRR’s Danielle Church shows us why members say the celebrations wouldn’t be happening without the Stonewall Riots.
Fifty years ago, a spark ignited the gay rights movement.
“It was really a pivotal moment when instead of being scared by the tactics used by those in power, the LGBTQ community stood up and said ‘no’ we’re not going to hide because we’re being persecuted. We’re going to rise up and be visible,” said James Bergman, a singer/songwriter for “Honoring Stonewall.”
In the 1950s and 60s, barely any places welcomed gays.
The Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was one of the few, becoming a safe space.
That is until June 28, 1969, when NYPD officers raided the bar.
But instead of letting the police arrest them because of their sexuality, the bar’s customers decided to change the LGBTQ community’s future.
“Stonewall really initiated a lot of things that happened nationwide. The following year, for the first time, gay pride parades happened in different cities,” said St. Mark’s pastor Joe Larson.
Larson says the riots showed gays that coming out could make a difference.
Now St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fargo is celebrating everything that changed after the riots through its “Honoring Stonewall” art exhibit.
“People who create things help tell the stories of our communities, whichever community you might be a part of. So using this opportunity to celebrate that but also the progress that has been made,” Bergman said.
While also remembering what Larson says still must be done.
“We still have about 30 states where it’s legal to discriminate in terms of employment and housing against LGBTQ people,” Larson said.
St. Mark’s started welcoming members of the LGBTQ community 28 years ago.
As a pastor for the last three years at the church, Larson is also the first openly gay pastor in North Dakota.
“I went to seminary when I was young and decided not to get ordained because I realized I was gay and back then, you get ordained.”
From the church to the streets, members of the LGBTQ community say there’s a lot to keep on celebrating about the past.
“LGBTQ history is still a necessary part of history all of us need to continue to learn and as we continue to learn to embrace people because of their differences instead of creating conflict and tension because we all might have differences from other people, we will continue to have a much more peaceful and loving society,” said Kandace Creel Falcón, multimedia storyteller for “Honoring Stonewall.”
Especially when it means creating a more inclusive world.
St. Mark’s “Honoring Stonewall” art exhibit is free and open to the public.
It runs through July 28.