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On This Gay Day | The 1969 Stonewall Riots started

The fight for queer liberation was propelled forward on this day in 1969 when riots broke out in New York following a police raid at the Stonewall Inn.

It is the tipping point where the queer community decided it had had enough of discrimination, intolerance and homophobia. Tired of the police raids and ill-treatment the patrons of the Stonewall Inn – a gay bar -fought back.

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Stonewall

When the police raided the bar they lost control of the situation and were forced to retreat, the local community in Greenwich Village organised a protest the next evening, and clashed police once again. Each night the protests grew bigger, and within weeks the area had been established as a place where marginalised people could be open about their sexuality.

Leaders in the fight were transgender women of colour including Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson. The riots became a inspiration for Pride marches around the world, and in many countries those marches have morphed into parades of celebration.

The riots were a catalyst that transformed New York City, within three months three separate newspapers for the gay, lesbian and transgender audience were launched.

The Stonewall Inn has become focal point for gay rights over the following five decades, with many LGBTIQ+ people making the pilgrimage to the site. In Christopher Park, opposite the venue, stand four statues, two same-sex couples created by artist George Segal. In recent years more acknowledgement has been added to highlight the prominent role transgender people of colour played in the movement.

Today the entire month of June is declared international Pride month, a celebration of LGBTIQ+ people, and a time to focus on the parts of the world where change is yet to come.


British actor John Inman was born in 1935

Actor John Inman found fame in the 1970’s playing shop assistant Mr Humphries in the British sitcom Are You Being Served.

Inman played the camp character in the long running sitcom that aired from 1972 until 1985, and also returned to pay the character in a spin-off series Grace and Favour.

John Inman as Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served.

The actor also came to Australia where he played Mr Humphries in Australian version of the show. The Australian version was set in Australian department store, and featured characters who were mirror images of their British counterparts.

In 1972 he was invited to be part of the cast of a one-off comedy episode called Are You being Served that was written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft.

Croft wrote many popular television series over the years including Dad’s Army, It Aint Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi, while Lloyd. Together the writing duo created the long running series ‘Allo ‘Allo.

In the original one-off episode Mr Humphries was a minor character who only had a few lines, but Inman was asked to “camp it up” when playing the character.

When a full series of Are You Being Served was commissioned Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries was one of the show’s most prominent characters. His memorable catch phrase was “I’m free”, and Inman portrayed the character with a limp wristed mining walk.

At times the character was criticised for putting forward a stereotype of gay men as camp and effeminate, but the show was a success on a global scale making Mr Humphries a gay man who everyone knew.

In a 1980 interview with TV Week the actor commented on the criticism.

“They thought I was over exaggerating the gay character. But I don’t think I do. In fact there are people far more camp than Mr. Humphries walking around this country.

“Anyway, I know for a fact that an enormous number of viewers like Mr Humphries don’t really care whether he’s camp or not. So far from doing harm to the homosexual image, I feel I might be doing some good.” Inman said.

In 1980 the Australian version of the show was created, and 16 episodes aired between 1980 and 1981. The show saw Mr Humphries come to Australia to work at Bone Brothers Department Store, it had characters who were exactly the same as those in the British version – just with new names.

Australian stage legend June Bronhill played the head of lady’s wear Mrs Crawford, who was exactly like Mrs Slocombe in the UK version, while a young Shane Bourne played the Mr Randel, the youngest team member in the menswear department.

Check out the Australian version.

While the original UK version of Are You Being Served came to an end in 1985, most of the cast returned for a spin-off series in 1992 called Grace and Favour. It saw the workers from Grace Brothers Department store retiring and jointly buying a farm.

In his later years John Inman often visited Australia to appear in theatrical productions. During his career Inman never spoke about his personal life, but he lived with his partner Ron Lynch for over 30 years. The couple entered a civil partnership in 2005.

Inman died in 2007 aged 71, he left his estate to his partner which was valued at more than 2.8 million pounds.

OIP Staff, this post was first published in 2020 and has been updated. 

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