June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising), a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ) community.
The struggle against police violence that took place at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City is widely considered to the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights in the U.S.
28-year old Raymond Castro, a Puerto Rican native living in New York City was arrested on the first night of the riots.
Castro was handcuffed by two police officers, but while his hands were behind his back, he shoved back and knocked both officers off their feet, energizing the crowd, according to Lillian Faderman’s “The Gay Revolution.”
Greenwich Village, NYC decorated for Pride Month
The Stonewall Inn was one of the very few establishments that welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Police harassment and assaults on gay bars were routine then, but the conflict between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village changed everything.
Weeks after the Stonewall riots and subsequent protests, organized activist groups formed to establish places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexuality.
Castro spent his career as a baker and wedding cake designer, according to the Advocate. Raymond moved to Florida with his husband, Frank, after the Stonewall uprising.
He died in 2010 after a battle with stomach cancer, according to the article on nbcnews.com. “Ray was extremely proud of his role in Stonewall and so very happy that he was able to participate in these events in the last year of his life,” his obituary reads.