Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Craig Rodwell

Born in Chicago, Craig Rodwell was educated at a Christian Science boarding school. He realized his attraction to males early and, having heard about the Mattachine Society, an early gay organization, moved to New York City in 1958 to get involved. Rodwell worked odd jobs to support himself, while making activism his primary commitment. In spring 1965, he helped organize in New York and Washington DC the first public demonstrations of gay and lesbian activists. In 1966, he and others organized “sip-ins” at New York City gay bars, which led to a court case overturning New York’s ban on serving gay people. Rodwell is best known for founding the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the first store in the U.S. devoted to the sale of LGBT-related books; for decades it was located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, not far from the site of the Stonewall Inn. Rodwell was deeply involved in the protests arising from the 1969police raid of the Stonewall, rallying the crowds with the cry of “Gay Power.” The day after the raid he produced a flyer, “Get the Mafia and the Cops Out of Gay Bars,” which was distributed widely in the Village. The next year, he founded the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee, which organized the first “Pride March,” now an annual event celebrated around the globe. Rodwell died from stomach cancer on June 18, 1993.