Stonewall Inn gets $250K lifeline to avoid COVID-19 closure

July 1, 2020

New York City’s iconic Stonewall Inn got a much-needed lifeline this week after receiving a $250,000 donation from the Gill Foundation. The Greenwich Village bar, considered the birthplace of the LGBTQ rights movement, has been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and has struggled to keep up with bills, including its $40,000/month rent. But thanks to the donation, and more than $300,000 raised as part of an online fundraiser, the national historic landmark will able to survive a little longer.

The Gill Foundation hopes to make a permanent exhibition near the Stonewall Inn to commemorate its history, as the Washington Blade first reported. In a statement to the Blade, Gill Foundation co-chairs Scott Miller and Tim Gill said, “Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected.”

“Queer people of color — including trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major — led the uprisings against police brutality at Stonewall and in doing so helped spark the movement for LGBTQ equality,” Miller and Gill said. “We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.”

Most restaurants and bars in New York City are struggling to stay afloat as the city still grapples with the crisis. But the city’s gay and lesbian bars who see their biggest business during Pride Month each year, which brings millions of people to New York City to celebrate, are at risk of permanent closure, as the New York Times reported.

“We had hundreds of thousands of people inside and outside our door last year,” Stacy Lentz, a co-owner of Stonewall, told the Times. “A good number of them were lined up to get into our bar, and now that’s just not happening.”

Lentz along with co-owner Curtis Kelly launched a GoFundMe, “Support the Stonewall Inn,” earlier this month to help keep the bar open. As of Wednesday, they have raised $302,895 of their $300,000 goal.

“The road to recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic will be long and we need to continue to safeguard this vital piece of living history for the LGBTQ community and the global human rights movement and we now must ask for your help to save one of the LGBTQ+ communities most iconic institutions and to keep that history alive,” the fundraiser reads.


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