Tag Archives: CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY MARCH

#PRIDE2022 - Learn All About The First Christopher Street Liberation Day (PRIDE) March - RARE VIDEO

#PRIDE2022 – Learn All About The First Christopher Street Liberation Day (PRIDE) March – RARE VIDEO

On November 2, 1969, just 4 months after the Stonewall riots Craig Rodwell, his partner Fred Sargeant, Ellen Broidy, and Linda Rhodes of the newly formed Gay Liberation Front proposed the first “gay pride parade” which was then called the “CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY MARCH.” to be held in New York City by way of a public resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) which meeting in Philadelphia..

Using Philadelphia’s smaller Annual Reminder protest which happened every year on the Fourth of July in front of Freedom Hall Rodwell, Sargeant,  Broidy, and Rhodes proposed the following to ECHO:

We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.

We also propose that we contact Homophile organizations throughout the country and suggest that they hold parallel demonstrations on that day. We propose a nationwide show of support.

All at the meeting in voted in favor of the march except for Mattachine Society of New York City, which abstained.(HYMN).

Meetings to organize the march began in early January at Rodwell’s apartment in 350 Bleeker Street not far from the site of the Stonewall bar.  At first there was major difficulty getting some of New York organizations like Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) to send representatives. In the end Rodwell , Sargeant, and Broidy, along with Michael BrownMarty Nixon, Brenda Howard of the the Gay Liberation Front and Foster Gunnison of the Mattachine Society made up the core group

For funding Gunnison sought donations from the national homophile organizations and sponsors, while Rodwell and Sargeant solicited donations via the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop customer mailing list. Nixon worked to gain financial support from GLF in his position as treasurer for that organization.  Believing that more people would turn out for the march on a Sunday they  scheduled the date for Sunday, June 28, 1970, the 1st. anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The parade route covered 51 blocks from Christopher Street to Central Park ending in a “Gay-In” in Sheep’s Meadow.

On the same weekend gay activist groups on the West Coast held a march in Los Angeles on June 28, 1970 and a march and ‘Gay-in’ in San Francisco.

In Los Angeles, Morris Kight (Gay Liberation Front LA founder), Reverend Troy Perry (Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches founder) and Reverend Bob Humphries (United States Mission founder) gathered to plan a commemoration. They settled on a parade down Hollywood Boulevard. But securing a permit from the city was no easy task. They named their organization Christopher Street West.”   But they had more difficulty with Los Angeles than New York City.  Rev. Perry recalled the Los Angeles Police Chief Edward M. Davis telling him, “As far as I’m concerned, granting a permit to a group of homosexuals to parade down Hollywood Boulevard would be the same as giving a permit to a group of thieves and robbers.” Grudgingly, the Police Commission granted the permit, though there were fees exceeding $1.5 million. After the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in, the commission dropped all its requirements but a $1,500 fee for police service. That, too, was dismissed when the California Superior Court ordered the police to provide protection as they would for any other group. The eleventh hour California Supreme Court decision ordered the police commissioner to issue a parade permit citing the “constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.” From the beginning, L.A. parade organizers and participants knew there were risks of violence. Kight received death threats right up to the morning of the parade. Unlike what we see today, the first gay parade was very quiet. The marchers convened on McCadden Place in Hollywood, marched north and turned east onto Hollywood Boulevard. The Advocate reported “Over 1,000 homosexuals and their friends staged, not just a protest march, but a full blown parade down world-famous Hollywood Boulevard.”

The first marches were both serious protests and fun, they served to inspire the widening activist movement. The marches were repeated in the following years, and more and more pride marches started up in other cities throughout the world. In Atlanta and New York City the marches were called Gay Liberation Marches, and the day of celebration was called “Gay Liberation Day”; in Los Angeles and San Francisco they became known as ‘Gay Freedom Marches’ and the day was called “Gay Freedom Day”. As more cities and even smaller towns began holding their own celebrations, these names spread and evolved.

In the 1980’s there was a cultural shift in the gay movement. Activists of a less radical nature took over, mostly due to the advent of big organizations like the HRC and  also because of the AIDS crisis which took the lives of so many of the original activist.  At this point many groups started dropping the original “Gay Liberation” and “Gay Freedom” from the names, replacing them with “Gay Pride”.

Watch the rare video below of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade which took place on June 28, 1970.  

 

 

 

Forgotten Gay Heroes - Craig Rodwell: The Father of PRIDE

PRIDE MONTH 2022 – Remembering Gay Activist Craig Rodwell: The Father of PRIDE

Over the past two decade with much of PRIDE’s focus being on trans and QPOC activists involved in the Stonewall Riots and PRIDE we continually overlook one of the most important gay activists of that era without whom the movement and  PRIDE itself would not even exist.  I am talking about Craig Rodwell, the Father of PRIDE.

Rodwell was born in Chicago, IL in 1940 and a former Christian scientist, He later studied ballet in Boston before finally moving to New York City in 1958. It was in New York that he first volunteered for a gay rights organization, The Mattachine Society of New York.

Rodwell opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967, and  began the group Homophile Youth Movement in Neighborhoods (HYMN) and began to publish its periodical, HYMNAL. 

Rodwell helped conceive the first yearly gay rights protest, the Annual Reminder picketing of Independence Hall held from 1965–1969; and the  Homophile Youth Movement rallies in 1967.

On September 19, 1964, Rodwell, along with Randy Wicker, Jefferson Poland, Renee Cafiero, and several others picketed New York’s Whitehall to protest the military’s practice of excluding gays from serving and, when discovered serving, dishonorably discharging them. This is the first recognized gay rights protest in American history.

On April 18, 1965, Rodwell led the picketing at the United Nations Plaza in New York to protest Cuban detention and placement into work camps of gays, with about 25 other protesters.

On April 21, 1966, Craig Rodwell, along with Mattachine President Dick Leitsch engaged in the infamous  “Sip-In” at Julius, a bar in Greenwich Village, to protest the (NY) State Liquor Authority rule against the congregation of gays in establishments that served alcohol. Rodwell had at an earlier date been thrown out of Julius for wearing an “Equality for Homosexuals” button. Rodwell and the others argued that the rule furthered bribery and corruption of the police. The resultant publicly led eventually to the end of the SLA rule.

Rodwell who is actually verified as being present and a participant at the Stonewall Riots in 1969 said of that fateful night:  A number of incidents were happening simultaneously. There was no one thing that happened or one person, there was just… a flash of group, of mass anger. There was a very volatile active political feeling, especially among young people … when the night of the Stonewall Riots came along, just everything came together at that one moment. People often ask what was special about that night …
There was no one thing special about it. It was just everything coming together, one of those moments in history that if you were there, you knew, this is it, this is what we’ve been waiting for: There was no one thing that happened or one person, there was just… a flash of group, of mass anger. There was a very volatile active political feeling, especially among young people … when the night of the Stonewall Riots came along, just everything came together at that one moment. People often ask what was special about that night …
e

In November of 1969 just five months after the Stonewall Riots, Rodwell proposed the first gay pride parade to be held in New York City by way of a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations meeting in Philadelphia, along with his partner Fred Sargeant (HYMN vice chairman), Ellen Broidy and Linda Rhodes. The first march was organized from Rodwell’s apartment on Bleecker Street.

That the Annual Reminder, in order to be more relevant, reach a greater number of people, and encompass the ideas and ideals of the larger struggle in which we are engaged-that of our fundamental human rights-be moved both in time and location.

We propose that a demonstration be held annually on the last Saturday in June in New York City to commemorate the 1969 spontaneous demonstrations on Christopher Street and this demonstration be called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. No dress or age regulations shall be made for this demonstration.

Craig Rodwell continued fighting the rest of his life for gay rights and died in 1993 of stomach cancer. His determination, persistence, inspiration, and understanding, have made people aware of their power through activism.

This is why we have PRIDE