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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Stonewall Uprising

Airs Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Lesbian protester and cops, June 28, 1969. When police raided Stonewall Inn, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back. As the streets of New York erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations, the collective anger announced that the gay rights movement had arrived.

Veteran filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner ("Adolescent Addict," "Jockey") explore the dramatic event that launched a worldwide rights movement.

Told by those who took part, from drag queens and street hustlers to police detectives, journalists and a former mayor of New York, and featuring a rich trove of archival footage, "American Experience: Stonewall Uprising" revisits a time when homosexual acts were illegal throughout America, and homosexuality itself was seen as a form of mental illness.

Stonewall Inn exterior at night
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Above: Stonewall Inn exterior at night

Hunted and often entrapped by undercover police in their hometowns, gays from around the U.S. began fleeing to New York in search of a sanctuary. Hounded there still by an aggressive police force, they found refuge in a Mafia-run gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn.

When police raided Stonewall on June 28, 1969, gay men and women did something they had not done before: they fought back. As the streets of New York erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations, the collective anger announced that the gay rights movement had arrived.

Video

Preview: American Experience: Stonewall Uprising

Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

Above: Told by those who took part, from drag queens and street hustlers to police detectives, journalists and a former mayor of New York, and featuring a rich trove of archival footage, "American Experience: Stonewall Uprising" revisits a time when homosexual acts were illegal throughout America, and homosexuality itself was seen as a form of mental illness.