Photographs by Fred W. McDarrah
Story by Kyle Almond, CNN
When the Stonewall uprising began 50 years ago, no one knew it would become such a pivotal moment in the gay rights movement.
But Fred W. McDarrah was there from the beginning.
“As far as we know, he was the only professional photographer on the scene at that point,” said Sarah Seidman, the Puffin Foundation curator of social activism at the Museum of the City of New York. “I think there are a few other photographs floating around, but his are definitely the most well-known.”
No one covered the riots — and their aftermath — like McDarrah, who was the staff photographer at The Village Voice, an alternative newspaper just a few doors down from the Stonewall Inn.
Soon after the riots broke out, McDarrah was there to document the LGBTQ community as it stood up to say enough was enough.
“Fred saw it all and recorded it all: the young queer people who were tired of being told that their way of being was obscene, that the families they’d made were twisted, all those folks who had been told year after year and all their lives that they were wrong,” Hilton Als wrote in a new foreword for McDarrah’s book “Pride: Photographs After Stonewall.”
McDarrah died in 2007 after working at The Village Voice for more than 50 years. He made his name by chronicling the Beat Generation and the counterculture movement in New York City. But his extensive work on the Pride movement lives on: through his book — recently updated for Stonewall’s 50th anniversary — and an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
The “Pride” exhibit features McDarrah’s images from the uprising as well as the marches it inspired in the weeks and years that followed.
“We wanted to get at the serious and sometimes somber part of it as well as the fun and celebratory part of it,” Seidman said.
McDarrah’s photos are now a significant part of LGBTQ history in the United States. His work was featured by the White House when the Stonewall Inn was designated as a national monument in 2016.