June 28, 2020 at 3:04 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Gill Foundation pledges up to $250K to protect Stonewall Inn
Stonewall Inn, gay news, Washington Blade
The modern Stonewall Inn is about half the size of the original bar and was last sold in 2006. (Photo by Travis Wise via Flickr)

Amid concerns the iconic Stonewall Inn in New York City may close due the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gill Foundation announced on Sunday it will match contributions of up to $250,000 to protect the business from closure.

The news was timed for the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which started in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and was considered the start of the modern LGBTQ movement.

Scott Miller and Tim Gill, co-chairs of the Gill Foundation, said in a statement “Stonewall is a cornerstone of LGBTQ history and it must be protected.”

“Queer people of color — including trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major — led the uprisings against police brutality at Stonewall and in doing so helped spark the movement for LGBTQ equality,” Miller and Gill said. “We must preserve that history and the legacy of the activists who led the charge.”

According to a report in CNN, the Stonewall Inn, is faced with mounting bills and uncertainty around when it can reopen during the coronavirus crisis. As a consequence, it has started an online fundraiser to ensure the LGBTQ landmark won’t close for good.

The monthly rent for the Stonewall Inn is over $40,000 and although bar received some Paycheck Protection Program funds, it was significantly less than the owners had expected, CNN reported. The bar sits next to the Stonewall National Monument, which is a national park, but does not receive any federal funding, according to CNN.

The pledge of up to $250,000 from the Gill Foundation will be earmarked to support rent and utility costs.

Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly, co-owners of the Stonewall Inn, welcomed the commitment from the Gill Foundation in a statement.

“As the first and only LGBTQ National Monument, Stonewall is home not only to the history of our community, but also the history of our city and country,” Lentz and Kelly said. “We are beyond grateful for this generous pledge that will help us keep the history alive.”

In 2014, the Gill Foundation coordinated with the National Park Foundation to identify LGBTQ places and events of historical significance. As part of that effortThe Stonewall Inn was designated as a national monument in 2016, making it the first-ever LGBTQ National Monument.

According to the Gill Foundation, the ultimate goal for the Stonewall Inn is a permanent exhibition and visitors center near the Stonewall Inn to commemorate its important history.

The Gill Foundation announcement comes on the heels on news the Gill Foundation committed a $50,000 as part of Stonewall Day for a Pride Live event in a fundraising benefiting transgender advocacy groups, including Trans Lifeline, the TransLatin@ Coalition, Brave Space Alliance and The Ally Coalition.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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