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1969: The Raid on the Stonewall Inn | New York Daily News/Getty Images

Officers armed with assault rifles stand guard outside the Stonewall bar in New York, protecting patrons after a gunman in Florida staged a massacre at a gay nightclub and spread fear of more attacks. The irony isn’t lost on the gay community that used to see police as the oppressor and counts the 1969 Stonewall Inn raid as the start of the US gay rights movement.

“Once upon a time they hit us with nightsticks, and now they’re our protectors,” said Gil Horowitz, 80, a retired research psychologist in New York who took part in the riots at Stonewall.

In Denver the first gay parade was held in 1975 in response to police raids on gay bars and arrests of gay men. On Sunday, police will march in solidarity and will have a robust presence among the crowd of more than 300,000 people.