“We’ve come a long way, but we still have far to go”— Castro, 2009
Raymond Castro was a baker originally from Puerto Rico, though he moved to New York at the age of five. He attended baking school in the building that would later house New York’s LGBT+ community center. He was 28 in 1969 and was initially released from the Stonewall Inn following the raid, but “happened to see a friend of [his] inside… a young fellow with no ID and he motioned to [Castro] like he wanted out. So naturally [Castro] tried to help him” and wound up back in the Inn, unable to get out. He was handcuffed and taken to a waiting police van, but he pushed back against the it, knocking two police officers to the ground. It took four officers to get him into the van, and following his arrest, he hired a lawyer to cover both himself and a woman he was arrested with. His resistance has been credited as one of the major catalysts that guaranteed the Stonewall riots became large and transformative enough to have had the lasting impact that they did.
Following the riots at Stonewall, Castro and his partner moved to Florida, where he continued to work as a baker and wedding cake designer. He attended the 40th annual pride parade, where he admitted, “I had no idea that I was going to be involved in history-making… I would do it all over again”. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer and given four months to live in 2008; he passed away in October of 2010.
#Pride50: Raymond Castro - Veteran of the Stonewall uprising