In this special series, LGBT celebrities and public figures talk to Tim Teeman about the Stonewall Riots and their legacy—see more here.

Rufus Wainwright is a singer, songwriter, and composer.

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

I come from the era when you had to read books and magazines to know what had happened and what was going on. There was a great gay bookstore called Androgyne in Montreal where I would loiter for hours and hours. Learned everything there. One cannot stress enough how important gay bookstores were to people coming out in those days.

What is their significance for you?

I hope at least I am a paragraph in the “book of gay.” Stonewall is a big fat chapter near the beginning. It’s all our story.

How far have we LGBT people come since 1969?

It seriously fluctuates. Before the present ogre in the Oval Office I would have said we’ve come far. Now it seems like dainty baby steps.

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

More attention paid to serious human rights abuses committed in theocratic countries. God is love.