In celebration of Pride Month, MoFo hosted an illuminating presentation by long-time LGBTQ+ rights activist and co-owner of the historic Stonewall Inn Stacy Lentz. On June 12, 2019, attendees in the firm’s New York office — and those watching via live-stream across the firm’s U.S. offices — listened in as Stacy spoke about the history of Stonewall, its impact on the push for LGBTQ+ rights, and its enduring influence as the struggle for those rights continues and evolves.
The Stonewall riots of 1969 sparked the beginning of the long battle for gay liberation and LGBTQ+ rights in the United States. Fifty years after the riots, the fight for equal rights and protection for the LGBTQ+ community is far from over. As Stacy observed, “Just because we have marriage equality does not mean we have won.”
Stacy moved from Kansas to New York City in 1994. Inspired by the history and significance of the Stonewall Inn uprising, she and her co-investors stepped up to revitalize the Inn after it had fallen into disrepair and once again make it a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.
Realizing the importance of providing safe havens in places where equality has been slow to arrive, she co-founded The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. The nonprofit’s mission is to eliminate social intolerance through awareness, education, and public dialogue. During the panel, Stacy spoke about how “visibility can change lives” and the importance of education both outside of and within the LGBTQ+ community. “If you don’t know your history, you can’t change your future,” she asserted.
Stacy spoke about the need to create safer, more inclusive environments. She believes that corporations will benefit from more inclusive policies that focus on enhancing acceptance, attracting a diverse and creative talent pool, and getting involved in more authentic marketing strategies to support the LGBTQ+ community. Following her talk, Stacy opened the room for questions, leading to an engaging discussion between her, MoFo lawyers, and staff. In Stacy’s opinion, it is this type of open dialogue that is critical to continuing to drive LGBTQ+ awareness and tolerance.
Learn more about the Stonewall Inn’s Give Back Initiative here.