June 26, 2015 12:25 PM EDT

Tree Sequoia, 76, has worked at the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots, for 45 years. Life before the riots meant you risked imprisonment, being outed and ostracized from your family, he recalls. And after the riots, Sequoia said, it was the first time that members of the LGBT community could walk the streets with pride. Many historians credit the Stonewall riots as the catalyst that ignited the gay rights movement, led by trans women like Sylvia Rivera.

On Tuesday, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously granted granted the bar landmark status.

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