New York City's historic Stonewall Inn, long considered the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, is struggling to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic. "We are reaching out because like many families and small businesses around the world, The Stonewall Inn is struggling," one of the bar's owners, Curtis Kelly, wrote on a recently-launched GoFundMe page.
"Our doors have been closed for over three months to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of patrons, staff and the community," Kelly continued. "Even in the best of times, it can be difficult to survive as a small business and we now face an uncertain future."
As of publication, the campaign had already raised more than $103,000.
New York City was the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, and bars and restaurants have slowly started to reopen this month for outdoor seating only. The Stonewall Inn, a tiny tavern on Christopher Street in the West Village, has yet to reopen at all, and once it does, "it will likely be under greatly restricted conditions limiting our business activities," Kelly wrote.
The bar was the scene of the infamous Stonewall Riots in which LGBTQ+ people fought back after a police raid on June 28, 1969. The riots set off the gay rights movement, and one year later, in memory of those riots, New York City held its first Pride Parade in Central Park. This month, communities around the world are celebrating Pride Month, and Kelly argues it's important to preserve "the place the community gathers for celebrations, comes to grieve in times of tragedy, and rally to continue the fight for full global equality."
Workers in the service industry have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has brought record unemployment and particularly affected those who rely on tips.
In April, Kelly also set up a staff support GoFundMe page, writing: "From the managers and bartenders to the bar backs and porters, our staff is the backbone of this institution of living history. Right now they need your help. Without their shifts, these dedicated staff members are without the means to support themselves and their families."