HARTFORD - Friday marked 50 years since the Stonewall riots took place in New York City. That event is seen as the beginning of the civil rights movement in the LGBTQ community, and people commemorated that important day on Hartford's Burr Mall.
There were drinks, food, music and a whole lot of love to go around as people gathered for the "Pride Under the Stars" event.
During the 60s, it was illegal in most states to be gay. But the Stonewall Inn, located in lower Manhattan, was a known meeting place for gay men, lesbians, cross-dressers, and other marginalized people. When police raided the bar, patrons resisted the discriminatory treatment and clashed with police.
All of this happened simply because the LGBTQ community wanted equal treatment without being punished.
"It was a galvanizing moment. There was a lot of stuff across the country that was going on to try to bring this movement to the forefront of people’s imaginations and to the news media. It was a struggle for rights but I think this really was a moment that sparked a movement," said Rachal Conley, an LGBTQ advocate.
Mayor Luke Bronin held a news conference to commend those who did take part in the fight by reassuring people they should never be afraid to be seen.
"When the LGBTQ plus community stood up so visibly, so strongly, in defense of basic civil rights, it helped create a movement that today has led to the progress that was unimaginable," said Mayor Bronin.
"Supporting our local gay bars and to be able to go anywhere throughout the City of Hartford and feel safe in any restaurant and any bar and any section, I think it’s something to be applaudable," Curtis Porter, an LGBTQ Commission Representative.
The pride flag hung proud as couples held hands without fear.
One longtime Hartford resident who went by the name of "Mucha Mucha" said the LGBTQ community must continue to use their voices.
"We did it. But it’s not over and that we made a lot of gains and we don’t want to fade away because of the administration in Washington," said Mucha Mucha Placer of Hartford.
Hartford will have its Capital City Pride event in September.