The Stonewall Riots that led to the gay rights movement in the United States coincided with the funeral of legendary entertainer Judy Garland. Garland was – and still is – an icon in the gay community and it’s been said bereaved fans decided enough was enough and fought back when police raided the Stonewall Inn during the early hours of June 28, 1969. But is that how it really happened?
News 8’s Heather Hope looks for the truth in this VERIFY report.
The 1997 book "Gay Metropolis" theorizes the Stonewall Riots were inspired by grieving gay Garland fans who stood up to police saying, "At midnight on June 28, 1969, bar patrons mourned her death since her funeral was hours earlier."
But others say that is not true. Some Stonewall veterans say Judy Garland's death did not start Stonewall. Author David Carter says, "There were no eye witness accounts that mention Garland as the inspiration or cause."
He also says, "the street youth most responsible for the riots were more likely to be listening to rock or R&B - not Garland."
While it’s not clear what role Garland’s death may have played in Stonewall, San Diego Pride legend, 82-year-old Jeri Dilno, says Garland's legacy did leave an imprint on local pride organizers.
"Every year we had an ad-hoc committee [and we] used to call it the Judy Garland Mickey Rooney,” said Dilno
Still some experts on LGBTQ history say that focusing too much on Garland trivializes the main catalysts for the stonewall uprising, which were: abuse, harassment and homophobia — problems that persist today.
Judy Garland fans should also note a new movie coming to theaters soon chronicles the last weeks of the entertainer’s life. Renee Zellweger will play the iconic star in “Judy” which is set to premiere September 27.