Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The Mountain Astrologer February/March 2016 issue and has been repulished with permission.
The four-day uprising on June 28, 1969 that started at the Stonewall Inn — during which gay patrons fought back against police harassment — marked the beginning of the American gay liberation movement. Just days earlier, Uranus had made its final ingress into Libra. It was an explosive time in history: a time to fight for equality, to be intolerant of intolerance, and to “come out” from behind the veils of secrecy and shame — the blacked-out walls of gay bars. By the time Pluto entered Libra two years later, there were gay rights groups in every major American city and many other countries.
The chart we'll look at (below) is for the moment the police raided the bar. (1) Author Edmund White (with Mercury at 11° Capricorn) wrote of the mood of that first evening: “Everyone’s restless, angry, and high-spirited. No one has a slogan, no one even has an attitude, but something’s brewing.” (2) The Moon was in Sagittarius (on the U.S. Sibly chart’s Ascendant) opposite Mercury in Gemini; Mars was in Sagittarius, too. It was a call to arms, a time to fight physically and vociferously for freedom and pride.
Various commentators have offered rationales as to why this particular raid inspired such resistance from Stonewall’s regulars — from the fact that “there was a Full Moon, to the recent death and funeral of Judy Garland, and the astrological explanation that Mars was in retrograde, a bad time for police action.” (3) What we do know is that the aggressive perpetrators (Aries Ascendant, ruler Mars in Sagittarius) were once again out to harass the gay patrons (Libra Descendant, ruler Venus in stubborn Taurus exactly conjunct asteroid Stone!) and charge the tavern for serving liquor without a license (Midheaven ruler Saturn in the 1st).
Still, Mars was indeed retrograde (as it had been when the Inn opened on March 18, 1967) and conjunct Neptune in the 8th house. There was a melee: People resisted arrest, escaped from the paddy wagon, and fought back by throwing cobblestones and bottles. To add to the drama, drag queens formed a high-kick chorus line of “Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay” to mock the arresting officers! When a fire was started, a lack of water pressure in the hose compounded law-enforcement impotence (Mars–Neptune). The police were stonewalled, humiliated, scared, injured, and vengeful. Violence escalated, arrests were made, and by 4:00 a.m. it was over for the night. But this was just the beginning.