It’s been 50 years since police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village. And it’s been 50 years since the gay men and women who saw the bar as a safe harbor in an unwelcoming world decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. The resulting uprising helped kickstart the LGBTQ rights movement and gay pride in the United States.
Now that history is being preserved in Stonewall Forever, an interactive, living monument launched by New York’s LGBT Community Center and the Stonewall National Monument with support from Google.org in the form of a $1.5 million grant.
Through Stonewall Forever, anyone, anywhere in the world can visit the monument either online or through augmented reality (AR), transforming a physical location into a global experience. Visitors to the New York landmark can head to Christopher Street Park, download the app, and upload their own content, adding their own story to the annals of history.
If you’re more comfortable hearing other people’s stories than sharing your own, Stonewall Forever also features an original short documentary from director Ro Haber and produced by Stink Studios that looks at 50 years of LGBTQ activism before, during, and after the Stonewall Riots and serving as a reminder that the fight is far from over.
The immersive experience is one way that technology can shine a light on dark history, reminding viewers of that very recent history and the ongoing fight for LGBTQ civil rights everywhere.
“By using technology, we are able to expand the scale and reach of the Stonewall National Monument so that it’s a shared, interactive experience, bringing past and present together in a completely new way,” said William Floyd, director of external affairs at Google. “The fight for LGBTQ rights is an ongoing one, and Stonewall Forever seeks to tell that story.”
Hopefully, Google’s support for LGBTQ communities extends to making sure LGBTQ creators in communities like YouTube are safe from harassment as well.