NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Google on Sunday announced a large grant to help record and make sure a major part of gay history – and New York City history – is not forgotten.
As WCBS 880’s Mike Sugerman reported, the grant will ensure that the story of the people who were at the Stonewall uprising 48 years ago.
Thomas Lanigan Schmidt was at the uprising. When asked what it was like, he said, “It’s hard to break it down into a sound bite.”
But he is very glad his story will be memorialized in the new project.
“It’s a story about being totally dehumanized,” Schmidt said. “It’s really important to preserve the digital history here.”
Eric Schmidt of Google said while the fight for LGBTQ rights has come a long way in the U.S. since Stonewall, but it remains a major issue globally – and Google wants to help.
“If we can do anything to get to share the stories and memories out there – I think of our platform; the reach we have – it’s a very good thing,” Schmidt told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman.
The $1 million grant will help expand the Stonewall story beyond the monument digitally.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) were on hand for the announcement.
“With this money, the (LGBT) Center will collaborate with the National Park Foundation to better educate the community about its extraordinary history,” Schumer said.
“The National Park Service is committed to telling the stories that reflect all of America’s history,” said Joshua Laird of the National Park Service New York Harbor.
Thomas Lanigan Schmidt said the Google project is far better than the resources he had about being gay.
“A lot of people are told it’s not right to be gay, like in church and things like that, so this way, they can go online and find out their own history – in a way that is very direct,” he said.
The 1969 raid at the tavern, at 53 Christopher St., became a key moment for the gay rights movement. Patrons clashed with officers, and several days of protests followed.
The Stonewall Inn has not been in continuous operation ever since the riots. In fact, the original bar went out of business in late 1969 – just months after the uprising – and the space was used variously as a bagel shop, a shoe store and a Chinese restaurant in the 1970s and ’80s, according to published reports.
The western half of the building reopened as a bar called Stonewall in the early 1990s, and the entire building was put into use for a new Stonewall Inn in 2007.
The Stonewall Inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.