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Mexican American writer John Rechy. Photo: Tony Korody/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Imagew

Pride Month is celebrated every June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, considered the start of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. But generally overlooked is the Latino connection to LGBTQ history, which started 10 years earlier.

Why it matters: Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans played key roles in demonstrations around the country that started as early as 1959 and often resulted in clashes with police.

Details: Mexican American writer John Rechy took part in the largely forgotten 1959 Cooper's Donuts Riot in Los Angeles — 10 years before Stonewall and on the other side of the country.

  • The uprising began after police tried to arrest El Paso, Texas-born Rechy and other LGBTQ patrons just for hanging out in Cooper’s Donuts, a popular gay meeting place. 
  • Transgender women, however, began pelting officers with donuts, coffee and plates until the officers retreated. More officers returned for an encounter historians say was one of the first modern LGBTQ uprisings in U.S. history.
  • Rechy would write about the episode in his 1963 novel, "City of Night," which became a classic in gay literature, earning praise from writer James Baldwin and inspiring "L.A. Woman" lyrics by The Doors.

Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican/Venezuelan American transgender woman, co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Marsha P. Johnson shortly after the Stonewall Uprising.

  • She is sometimes credited with throwing one of the first bottles at police during Stonewall, though some historians have disputed that and say other Hispanic transgender people were involved.
  • Rivera helped link the Puerto Rican radical group Young Lords to LGBTQ liberation. She advocated for transgender rights until her death in 2002.

Context: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, New York City announced Rivera would be immortalized with a monument near the Stonewall Inn.

Don't forget: The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies filed an amicus brief to fight an anti-gay law in Colorado in 1994. The case went to the Supreme Court and the law was tossed.

  • NACCS boycotted Colorado and nearly went bankrupt because it had to cancel a planned event there.
  • NACCS was the only group solely made up of members of color in this fight.

But: In 2019, college students of the historic group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan), or MEChA, voted to drop the word "Chicano" from its name, arguing that some members of the 1970s Chicano Movement were homophobic.

  • The change generated a strong backlash from some Chicano LGBTQ activists who called the students misguided "wokosos" (combining the term "woke" with the Spanish word "mocosos" — snot-nosed brats).

Go deeper

DOJ says it can defend exemption to anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws for religious schools

Photo: John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Justice Department said in a court filing this week it is capable of defending an exemption in federal law allowing federally-funded religious schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

Why it matters: The DOJ is beholden to defending federal laws, but the filing, which initially said the department could "vigorously" defend the exemption, angered some LGBTQ advocates who said it conflicted with the Biden administration's pledge to protect LGBTQ rights.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

NTSB probes crash that killed 10 in Alabama as storm lashes Southeast

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's investigating a fiery multi-vehicle weekend crash in Alabama that killed 10 people, including nine children, as storms swept the Southeast.

The big picture: Saturday's crash on Interstate 65, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama as it triggered flash floods and spawned tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" over the weekend, per AP.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.