A century from now, the American people will look back at the beginning of the 21st century. They will see each of us, individually fighting for life, love and liberty — and they will say we were heroes.

It is quite fitting that this issue is published on June 27. Forty years ago this weekend, young people of color, closeted white businessmen, gay street hustlers and drag queens in New York City’s Greenwich Village headed out to one of their favorite underground gay bars for a night of fun. Little did they know that just a few hours into the early morning of June 28, New York City police officers would descend on their bar and a modern revolution would be born.

Tensions escalate between gay street kids and New York City police officers outside of the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Photo Credit: Joseph Ambrosini

In this issue, Q-Notes celebrates two historic births: the 40th anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn — the birthplace of our modern LGBT civil rights movement — and the 233rd birthday of our nation.

In the centuries since our nation’s founders sat down to craft their visions for America, generation after generation has been forced to grapple with new understandings and extensions of the dreams and ideals set to paper in 1776.

Our nation’s history of social and political change and the continuous reshaping of our national conscience has come neither easily nor without cost.

“The American experiment is the most tremendous and far reaching engine of social change which has ever either blessed or cursed mankind,” said Charles Francis Adams, an anti-slavery Republican U.S. House member and grandson of John Adams.

The “American Dream” is something that is living, breathing and always changing, usually for the better. But nothing worth having comes without struggle. Our nation’s history of progressive movement forward is filled with stories of horrendous pain and suffering. But, every time we near the end of another civil and human rights road, we begin to understand that the journey was well worth it.

From ending slavery and Jim Crow to women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement, our country’s people have faced down their worst fears and fought bitterly for equality. That fight started with a bloody war, was renewed nearly a century later with a second bloody war and continues through today to cause great pain and anguish.

But, through torment and hell, the American people have always prevailed victorious, with a more equal and just society and nation for all her people.

The American story is the same for LGBT people. Through the pre-Stonewall movement to Stonewall and through the harrowing AIDS crisis of the 1980s until today, we’ve watched our brothers and sisters face down oppression and prejudice, hate crimes resulting in injury and death and government-sanctioned discrimination.

At the end of the day we are moving forward. A century from now, the American people will look back at the beginning of the 21st century. They will see Obama as the man who either moved the American dream forward or the one who held it back. They will see each of us, individually fighting for life, love and liberty — and they will say we were heroes.

The anniversary of Stonewall and the birthday of our nation go hand-in-hand, intertwined in a never-ending struggle to fulfill a dream first laid at our feet more than 230 years ago. Our shared American journey reminds us to never give up, to never falter or fail in the long and hard-fought battle for life, liberty and happiness. We deserve it, and it will be achieved. History will see to it.

In the last Q-Notes issue on June 13, an oversight by our staff resulted in inadvertently leaving out an important notation on the QList — Best of the LGBT Carolinas, Readers’ Pick result listings: “Readers might notice that there are no results for four geographic areas originally included in the voting process: Eastern N.C., Western N.C., Coastal S.C. and Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C. These areas did not produce an adequate sample size with which we could effectively compile results and feature winners. Feedback can be sent to editor@q-notes.com.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.