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Pride Day: Tampa woman recalls being at Stonewall during riots

Posted at 3:59 PM, Jun 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-30 18:21:00-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As millions flooded New York City's streets for the huge Pride Parade on Sunday, a local Tampa woman watched from her home with a big smile on her face.

"What I'm seeing here today, in New York, is great news," said Ericka Giunga. "It's perfect!"

Today, Giunga is a 73-year-old transgender woman. Fifty-years ago she was a man dressing in drag and living in New York. She remembers when it was against the law to walk around dressed like a woman.

"It was terrible in New York," she said.

Giunga and other members of the LGBTQ community were afraid of the police.

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"They would attack us, bully us, and raid our bars," she recalled.

The Stonewall riots started after weeks of police raids, on June 28, 1969. Giunga was the Stonewall that night.

"We were drinking and all of a sudden you heard bing, bang, boom," she said.

She and her friend ran and hid until it was safe to leave.

"We saw so many people with a broken nose and broken arms," she said. "I mean they were physically beaten down."

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Back then the riots broke her heart. But today, she's thankful for them.

"People stood up for their own rights and that made a great difference," she said.

Now, people like Giunga can get married, have families and celebrate with huge parades — like the one in New York and here in St. Pete.

"It makes me feel so happy," said Giunga.