The Genovese's mafia family saw the potential profit in catering to shunned gay clientele and in 1966 bought the “straight” bar and restaurant in New York City called Stonewall Inn. This establishment was registered as a private “bottle bar,” which did not require a liquor license. Patrons could bring their own liquor. The Genovese family bribed New York’s Sixth Police Precinct to ignore the actual activities occurring within the club, allowing the crime family to cut costs by selling watered-down liquor illegally on site. Moreover, The Mafia reportedly blackmailed the club's wealthier patrons who wanted to keep their sexuality a secret.
Stonewall Inn quickly became well known in the NYC district of Greenwich Village. It was relatively cheap, which enabled it to become the nightly home for many runaways and homeless gay youths, who could pay the entrance fee by panhandling or shoplifting. Stonewall Inn also was open to drag queens, and transgender people turned away from many other gay bars or clubs. Furthermore, it was one of the only gay bars in the city that still allowed dancing.
Raids were frequent and very much a part of life for the LGBT community. However, mafia-run bars paid off corrupt police officers, who would typically tip off the bar owner before police planned raids so that illegal liquor and “gay behaviour” could be hidden in time. For that reason, it came as a surprise in the early morning on June 28, 1969, when police, armed with a warrant, entered Stonewall Inn. Usually, as police entered the gay bars, patrons would disperse quickly. However, on this occasion, a threshold was passed in which the fed-up patrons from the constant police harassment and social discrimination remained. Angry patrons and neighbourhood residents gathered outside the bar as events unfolded in which people were aggressively maltreated. At one point, an officer hit Stormé DeLarverie over the head as he forced her into a police van. This action incited the crowd, who began to throw pennies, bottles, cobblestones or anything that was at hand at the police. So began the Stonewall protests, which involved thousands of protesters and lasted about five days. Even though this moment in history did not start the gay rights movement, it was a galvanising force of LGBT political activism that lead to the founding of numerous gay rights organisations, including the Gay Liberation Front, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). In 2016 President Barack Obama designated the area of the Stonewall Riots as a national monument in recognition of the location’s contribution to gay rights (Stonewall Riots, 2017).
What made the riots at Stonewall Inn different from other LGBTQ+ protests was its acceptance of all types of gay and transgender people. Other gay bars catered exclusively to gay men only; Gay bar owners excluded lesbians and transgender people. Even though Stonewall Inn was run by a Mafia family, who offered protection whilst exploiting the LGBT community, a community evolved and galvanised inside Stonewall Inn. Even though “It was a bar for people who were too young, too poor, or just too much to get in anywhere else” (Carter, 2011), the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, in all their differences, found a sense of solidarity against the heteronormative hegemony. Consequently, the Stonewall Inn became a sanctuary in which a subculture arose that grew out of a volatile neoliberal environment of the time. The attempt to prevent the patrons of the Stonewall Inn from having a home evoked stronger solidarity and galvanisation between its patrons. They fought for their home, protested for acceptance and recognition of the group and individual identities, and the equal human rights of all LGBT people. To look at the events that led to the Stonewall Riots through the Chicago School theoretical lens. It is clear to say that political neoliberalism oppressed and enforced the illegal interaction of LGBT people. A community of people unwelcome in a heteronormative hegemonic culture searched for a place they could be themselves. This circumstance was optimised by the mafia, who offered illegal protection to people in a political time when protection was privatised and only legally affordable by the affluent classes. Through the modernist self-development of the mafia families to make money, they overlooked their heteronormative prejudices of the LGBT community, thus facilitating locations such as the Stonewall Inn for LGBT people.
Moreover, mafia families are an example of pre-modern families composed of a bloodline of family members who share strong cultural rules composed of objective cultural truths. The fact that mafia families are pre-modern and develop themselves in a modernist way indicates how various social, philosophic behaviour can exist simultaneously. This point to the malleability of objective truth.
From this turbulent, dangerous environment, the solidarity of the LGBT community was created, and expresses the essence of how ‘House music’ started, which asks the question; how did the Stonewall Riots evoke a social and cultural shift in which ‘House music’ could grow?