Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Michael Kors: Without the Stonewall riots, I wouldn’t have been able to marry my musband

The Daily Beast

June 9, 2019

The fashion designer tells Tim Teeman, ‘I hope we don’t forget the history of the LGBTQ community, of those who fought for us.’ Young people should ‘realize the battle isn’t over.’

Michael Kors, Fashion designer

When/how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of it?

When the Stonewall Riots actually happened, I was too young to understand what they were and what the repercussions were. As a teenager, I started taking acting lessons in Greenwich Village and we would walk past the Stonewall Inn. By then, I was aware that this was really hallowed ground.

What is their significance for you?

As a teenager in the ’70s, the Stonewall Riots allowed me the freedom to feel that I did not have to be in the closet like previous generations. I think that it changed the possibilities for how people live their lives, and whether or not you can live your life as your true self.

The night that marriage equality passed in New York State, Lance (Le Pere, Kors’ husband) and I immediately got off the couch, turned off the TV, proposed to one another and went right to the Stonewall Inn. Without the Stonewall Riots, that never could have happened.

How far have we LGBT people come since 1969?

I grew up in a very accepting, liberal family, but I never thought about the possibility of getting married. I just always assumed that marriage was strictly for straight couples. We’ve become more visible, more vocal, and more part of the fabric of people’s lives. The changes are enormous. At the same time, every time people progress and think the fight is over, the pushback comes. I think that it’s very important for young people today to realize that the battle is not over.

What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?

I’d like to see a global acceptance of LGBTQ people—the idea that endless possibility and freedom should be a given right for all human beings regardless of their sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, race or nationality.

At the same time, I hope we don’t forget the history of the LGBTQ community, of those who fought for us and always looked at things with a different eye. In the past, you acted differently because everyone treated you differently. In the future, I hope you see things differently and act differently because you want to, not because you have to.