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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: Dean Halkitis Reflects on the Stonewall Riots, the AIDS Epidemic, and Public Health

Rutgers School of Public Health Dean, Dr. Perry Halkitis, discusses the impact of the Stonewall Riots and their growth due to the frustration and anger at a society that was denying the existence of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) population and simultaneously persecuting them for their identities.

The editorial recently appeared in the American Journal of Public Health.

Dean Halkitis reflects on the Riots ahead of their 50th anniversary, and the impact they have made on public health today. “The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were a boisterous pronouncement by the LGBTQ population that we would no longer hide, that we would not be arrested, and that we would not have our health undermined by a system that chose to ignore us.”

The Riots were a catalyst for a new public health paradigm. As the Stonewall Riots framed the basis for the recognition of the LGBTQ population’s identities as important and viable members of the general public, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,or AIDS, crisis of the 1980s and 1990s created the circumstances by which the population would come to demand that the government and society attend to their well-being.

The LGBTQ Rights Movement did not stand alone during this time, intertwining with the Women’s Rights Movement. To this day, these two movements, along with the African American Civil Rights movement, work to challenge power and privilege.

“At their core, the Riots and the continued LGBTQ Rights Movement have both the desire for social justice and health equity,” says Dean Halkitis.