Tag Archives: Stonewall Riots

Gay History: July 2 – McCarthy, Cohn and “Sex Perverts”, Rex Gildo and the IRS

July 2nd.

1939:  Ludwig Alexander Hirtreiter, aka Rex Gildo, German singer of ‘schlagers’, born in Munich.  Hirtreiter aka Gildo  reached the height of his popularity in the 1960’s and 1970’s, selling over 25 million records and also starring in film and television roles.

Gildo died in 1999 aged 63, having spent three days in an artificially-induced coma after attempting suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment building. He was said to have been suffering “psychological problems”. After his death, it was reported that he had been gay and involved in a relationship with Dave Klingeberg, his secretary with whom he lived, for seven years.

1953:  The Los Angeles Herald-Express reports that the state department in California had fired 531 sex perverts and other security risks. The number of homosexuals fired was 425. Note: during the McCarthyist period from 1947 to 1953 more people lost their jobs for being homosexual than for involvement with the Communist party in which McCarthy was aided by the ice cold sleaze queen and deeply closeted homosexual Roy Cohn

1969:  Responding to the fourth and final night of ongoing Stonewall riots on Christopher Street New York police arrived and beat the demonstrators with nightsticks, leaving many many victims bleeding but in the end more then double the amount of police were injured during the riots than LGBT activist.

1970:  A group of American Lutheran leaders issues a statement calling for an end to sodomy laws and the passage of legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation

1974:  In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Derksen Printers refuses to print Understanding Homosexuality, an educational publication by Gays for Equality. Group pickets printing plant.

1975: During a joint meeting of the National Organization of Women, the Austin Women’s Political Caucus and Women’s Equality Action League, the Austin Lesbian Organization is invited to give a presentation on lesbianism.

1985:  The first meeting of Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays (HUG) is held in Wellington, New Zealand.

1986:  By only a single vote New Zealand’s parliament allows final debate to begin on a proposed law to lower the age of consent for gay sex to 16 and legalize gay sex. The bill eventually passes.

1989:  Employees of the US Internal Revenue Service who were members of the National Treasury Employees Union receive a new contract which included protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But to this day it does not appear in internal ethics material.

1994:  Italy’s “First National Demonstration of Gay and Lesbian Pride” takes place in Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

Gay History- June 28, 1969: The True and Unadulterated History of the Stonewall Riots

In 1969 the world was a very different place. 

Richard Nixon was President and the Vietnam war was in full swing and its bloody images were televised into peoples living rooms each night. Over 45,000 American soldiers were dead. The counterculture of hippies, yippies, and anti-war protestors mostly young people flocked to major  cities like San Francisco and New York City to escape the draft, their parents,  and moral constructs.

New York City itself was a melting pot of millions of different kinds of people.  But none were looked down upon as much and had to hide than  gay men, lesbians, and other so-called “sexual deviants” of that era.

Greenwich Village at that time was a haven for outcasts in 1969 and was home to  thousands of  artists, actors, bohemians, beatniks, runaways, and mostly blue collar workers.

The original Stonewall Inn was located at 51 and 53 Christopher Street. (Only 53 Christopher Street is used today and the other side of the original bar sits vacant.)  And what many people do not know is that it was owned by the infamous Genovese mafia crime family.

In 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a NYPD police officer from the 6th Precincts would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff for “protection” to keep the The Stonewall open.  The bar had no liquor license and no running water behind the bar—used glasses were run through tubs of water and immediately reused. There were no fire exits, and the bathrooms were filthy and toilets overran consistently. It was the only bar for gay men and lesbians in New York City where dancing was allowed and that was its main draw since at that time same-sex dancing was illegal and those who were caught doing it were subject to arrest.

in 1969 visitors to the Stonewall Inn were greeted by a bouncer who inspected them through a peephole in the door. The legal drinking age at that time in New York was 18 years old. To avoid unwittingly letting in undercover police who were called “Lily Law”, “Alice Blue Gown”, or “Betty Badge” at the time, visitors would have to be known by the doorman, or be friends with someone who did.  The entrance fee on weekends was $3, for which the customer received two tickets. Patrons were required to sign their names in a book to prove that the bar was a private “bottle club”.  Needless to say customers rarely signed their real names.

A color digital illustration of the station layout of the Stonewall Inn in 1969: a rectangular building with the front along Christopher Street; the entrance opens to a lobby where patrons could go to the larger part of the bar to the right that also featured a larger dance floor. From that room was an entrance to a smaller room with a smaller dance floor and smaller bar. The toilets are located near the rear of the building
                                    Stonewall Inn layout 1969

 

There were two dance floors in the Stonewall Inn and the interior was painted black including the windows making it very dark inside. The only real electrical lights that were on during business hours was a dim light behind the bar and the rest were pulsing gel and black lights. If police were spotted, the bar’s regular white lights were turned on signaling that everyone should stop dancing or touching and that same sex couple should break-up and pair up as male-female couples to avoid arrest.  In the rear of the bar was a smaller room frequented by the few “queens” that were allowed inside; it was one of two bars where effeminate men who wore makeup and teased their hair (though dressed in men’s clothing) could go. Very few transvestites or drag queens were allowed in in by the bouncers. The average age of the bar’s clientele ranged between 18 years old and many closeted gay men in their forties and fifties.  

Police raids on gay bars in the late 1960’s were frequent, but bar management usually knew about the raids in advance due to bribes made to certain police officers. The raids usually occurred early enough in the evening that business could commence after the police had finished.  During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, and customers were lined up and their identification cards checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested and others were allowed to leave. Lesbian patrons were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them all

At 1:20 AM on the night of  Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform along with Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Stonewall employees do not recall being tipped off that a raid was to occur that night, as was the usual custom.

Some have said that one of the reasons that the bar was raided unannounced was that the Mafia owners of the Stonewall and the manager were blackmailing some of their wealthier customers, particularly those who worked in the Financial District and that they were  making more money from extortion than they were from liquor sales in the bar. With the police were unable to receive kickbacks from blackmail and the theft of negotiable bonds (facilitated by pressuring gay Wall Street customers), so the NYPD decided to close the Stonewall Inn permanently. But again this is conjecture and not a proven theory as our history has not been very well documented.

Once inside, the NYPD called for backup from the Sixth Precinct using the bar’s pay phone. The music was turned off and the main lights were turned on. Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Michael Fader who was at the Stonewall that night: “Things happened so fast you kind of got caught not knowing. All of a sudden there were police there and we were told to all get in lines and to have our identification ready to be led out of the bar.”

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take any customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested.

But things that night did not go exactly as the NYPD had planned.

The story goes that those dressed with pieces of female attire that night refused to go with the female officer and that men in line-up began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station. After separating those in drag in a room in the back of the bar. Maria Ritter, who was known as Steve to her family, recalled, “My biggest fear was that I would get arrested. My second biggest fear was that my picture would be in a newspaper or on a television report in my mother’s dress! Both patrons and police recalled that a sense of discomfort spread very quickly, spurred by police who began to assault some of the lesbians by “feeling some of them up inappropriately” while frisking them.

The police were to confiscate and transport the bar’s alcohol in patrol wagons. Twenty-eight cases of beer and nineteen bottles of liquor were seized but the patrol wagons had not yet arrived, so patrons were required to wait in line for about 15 minutes.  Those who were not arrested were released and let out the front door, but they did not leave the area quickly as usual. Instead, they stopped outside and a crowd began to grow and watch. Within minutes, between 100 and 150 people had congregated outside. Some after they were released from inside the Stonewall, and some after noticing the police cars and the crowd. Although the police forcefully pushed or kicked some patrons out of the bar, some customers released by the police performed for the crowd by posing and saluting the police in an exaggerated campy fashion. The crowd’s applause encouraged them further: “Wrists were limp, hair was primped, and reactions to the applause were classic.”

When the first patrol wagon arrived the crowd had grown to at least ten times the number of people who were arrested, and they all became very quiet. Confusion over radio communication delayed the arrival of a second wagon. As the police began escorting those from within the bar outside a bystander shouted, “Gay power!”, someone began singing “We Shall Overcome”.  It was then said some pennies, and beer bottles, were thrown at the wagon as a rumor spread through the crowd that patrons still inside the bar were being beaten.

The MYTHS:

This is where Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Riveria comes in.   Marsha P. Johnson herself  has claimed on audiotape that she was the one who told Sylvia about the raid AFTER it started and that neither were at the bar when the riot began and joined in much later.    Sylvia never mentioned being at the Stonewall Inn until well after 20 years after the riot.   In an interview with this website Miss Major Griffin-Gracy a community leader for transgender rights has gone on record as saying that she saw neither Rivera or Johnson in attendance at the bar.  In the face of such evidence and the  lack of any real proof it does make Rivera’s claim about being at the Stonewall Inn at the time of the raid and “throwing the first heel” , brick, pennies, etc. more of the stuff of legends than any true historical fact.

THE ARRESTS:  Ma

It’s been reported that while the NYPD began “escorting” those arrested out of the bar a scuffle broke out when a lesbian in handcuffs was escorted from the door of the bar to the waiting police wagon. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting, for about ten minutes. She had been hit on the head by an officer with a baton for, as one witness claimed for complaining that her handcuffs were too tight. Bystanders recalled that the woman, whose identity remains unknown sparked the crowd to fight when she looked at bystanders and shouted, “Why don’t you guys do something?” When  an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the paddy wagon  the crowd went “berserk”:

It was at that moment that the scene became explosive and the fight for our right and freedom

The crowd outside the Stonewall Inn  started to push back at the police who tried to restrain them, the police fought back and  knocked a few people down.  It’s rumored that Storme DeLaverie, a lesbian crossdresser was observed throwing the first punch after being pushed around by a policeman which incited bystanders even more. Some of those handcuffed in the wagon escaped when police left them unattended  As the crowd tried to overturn the police wagon, two police cars and the wagon left immediately, with Inspector Pine urging them to return as soon as possible. The commotion attracted more people who learned what was happening. Someone in the crowd declared that the bar had been raided because “they didn’t pay off the cops”, to which someone else yelled “Let’s pay them off!”  Beer cans were thrown and the police lashed out, dispersing some of the crowd, who found a construction site nearby with stacks of bricks. The few police at that point were surrounded by between 500 and 600 people, and grabbed grabbed several people, in the crowd including folk singer Dave Van Ronk —who had been attracted to the commotion from a bar two doors away from the Stonewall.  Though Van Ronk was not gay, he had experienced police violence when he participated in antiwar demonstrations: “As far as I was concerned, anybody who’d stand against the cops was all right with me” .”Ten police officers—including two policewomen—barricaded themselves, Van Ronk, Howard Smith (a writer for The Village Voice), and several handcuffed detainees inside the Stonewall Inn “for their own safety”.

There are multiple accounts of the riots that night but the one thing that everyone agrees on is what happened from this point was raw, powerful and spontaneous.

Michael Fader: “We all had a collective feeling like we’d had enough of this kind of shit. It wasn’t anything tangible anybody said to anyone else, it was just kind of like everything over the years had come to a head on that one particular night in the one particular place, and it was not an organized demonstration…. Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us…. All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined, and everything just kind of ran its course. It was the police who were doing most of the destruction. We were really trying to get back in and break free. And we felt that we had freedom at last, or freedom to at least show that we demanded freedom. We weren’t going to be walking meekly in the night and letting them shove us around—it’s like standing your ground for the first time and in a really strong way, and that’s what caught the police by surprise. There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we’re going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren’t going to go away. And we didn’t.”

Bob Kohler: And nobody knows who started it and nobody can [know] because you don’t know a riot is going to start, so therefore you’re not looking to see anybody start anything. You hear something. Maybe it’s a bottle break. Maybe it’s a fire in the trashcan and then it’s a riot. So all these bullshit people who are ‘I saw this. I saw that.’ You didn’t see nothing. Well, one thing you didn’t see was drag queens in high heels. I can tell you that. They weren’t there. It was the kids who started it and then the whole street erupted. But it was just – the kids had the best time of their lives. That was fun. And that broke up the week and they were glad when it happened on Wednesday night. And glad when it happened again. And by Saturday night, they still, none of those kids knew because they didn’t have that kind of a mind”.

THE RIOTS:

Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  A parking meter was wretched free from the ground and used as a battering ram on the doors of the Stonewall Inn.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows as the police grabbed a fire hose. Because it had no water pressure, the hose was ineffective in dispersing the crowd, and seemed only to encourage them.  When demonstrators broke through the windows—which had been covered by plywood—the police inside un-holstered their pistols. The doors flew open and officers pointed their weapons at the angry crowd, threatening to shoot. The Village Voice writer Howard Smith, in the bar with the police, took a wrench from the bar and stuffed it in his pants, unsure if he might have to use it against the mob or the police. He watched someone squirt lighter fluid into the bar; as it was lit and the police took aim, sirens were heard and the  Tactical Police Force (TPF) of the NYPD and firetrucks arrived to free the police trapped inside the Stonewall Inn.

One officer’s eye was cut, and a few others were bruised from being struck by flying debris. Bob Kohler, who was walking his dog by the Stonewall that night, saw the TPF arrive: “I had been in enough riots to know the fun was over…. The cops were totally humiliated. This never, ever happened. They were angrier than I guess they had ever been, because everybody else had rioted … but the fairies were not supposed to riot … no group had ever forced cops to retreat before, so the anger was just enormous. I mean, they wanted to kill.” 

When extra NTPD officers arrived the TPF formed a phalanx and attempted to clear the streets by marching slowly and pushing the crowd back. The mob openly mocked the police. The crowd cheered, gay men and drag queens started impromptu kick lines, and sang to the tune of The Howdy Doody Show theme song: “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We don’t wear underwear/ We show our pubic hairs”. Just as the line got into a full kick routine, the TPF advanced again and cleared the crowd and sent them screaming down Christopher to Seventh Avenue.

One participant who had been in the Stonewall during the raid recalled, “The police rushed us, and that’s when I realized this is not a good thing to do, because they got me in the back with a night stick”. Another account stated, “I just can’t ever get that one sight out of my mind. The cops with the [nightsticks] and the kick line on the other side. It was the most amazing thing…. And all the sudden that kick line, which I guess was a spoof on the machismo … I think that’s when I felt rage. Because people were getting smashed with bats. And for what? A kick line?”

Craig Rodwell, the once owner of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, reported watching police chase the crowds through the crooked streets, only to see them appear around the next corner behind the police. Members of the mob stopped cars, overturning one of them to block Christopher Street. Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke, in their column printed in Screw, declared that “massive crowds of angry protesters chased for blocks screaming, ‘Catch them!’ 

By 4:00 in the morning the streets had nearly been cleared. Many people sat on stoops or gathered nearby in Christopher Park throughout the morning, dazed in disbelief at what had transpired. Many witnesses remembered the surreal and eerie quiet that descended upon Christopher Street, though there continued to be “electricity in the air”. One commented: “There was a certain beauty in the aftermath of the riot…. It was obvious, at least to me, that a lot of people really were gay and, you know, this was our street.” Thirteen people had been arrested. Some in the crowd were hospitalized, and four police officers were injured. Everything in the Stonewall Inn was broken.  Pay phones, toilets, mirrors, jukeboxes, and cigarette machines were all smashed, possibly in the riot and possibly by the police. But despite everything, the Stonewall Inn would open for business again the very next night.

All three New York City newspapers covered the riots; The New York Daily News placed coverage on the front page. News of the riot spread quickly throughout Greenwich Village, All day Saturday, June 28, people came to stare at the burned and blackened Stonewall Inn. Graffiti appeared on appeared on the walls of the bar “They invaded our rights”, “Support gay power”, and “Legalize gay bars”

The next night, rioting again surrounded Christopher Street; participants remember differently which night was more frantic or violent. Many of the same people returned from the previous evening. but they were joined by “police provocateurs”, curious bystanders, and even tourists.  Remarkable to many was the sudden exhibition of homosexual affection in public, as described by one witness: “From going to places where you had to knock on a door and speak to someone through a peephole in order to get in. We were just out. We were in the streets.

Thousands of people had gathered in front of the Stonewall, which had opened again, choking Christopher Street until the crowd spilled into adjoining blocks. The crowd surrounded buses and cars, harassing the occupants unless they either admitted they were gay or indicated their support for the demonstrators. As on the previous evening, fires were started in garbage cans throughout the neighborhood. More than a hundred police were present from the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Precincts, but after 2:00 a.m. the TPF arrived again. Kick lines and police chases waxed and waned; when police captured demonstrators, whom the dallies described as “sissies” or “swishes”, the crowd surged to recapture them. Street battling ensued again until 4:00 am.

Allen Ginsberg who lived on Christopher Street, but missed the first night of the riot  stated, “Gay power! Isn’t that great!… It’s about time we did something to assert ourselves”, and that night visited the re-opened but in shambles  Stonewall Inn for the first time. “You know, the guys there were so beautiful” said Ginsberg —”they’ve lost that wounded look that fags all had 10 years ago”.

Nothing much happened the next two days, Monday and Tuesday, partly due to rain. Police and Village residents had a few altercations, as both groups antagonized each other. Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant took the opportunity the morning after the first riot to print and distribute 5,000 leaflets, one of them reading: “Get the Mafia and the Cops out of Gay Bars”. The leaflets called for gays to own their own establishments, for a boycott of the Stonewall and other Mafia-owned bars, and for public pressure on the mayor’s office to investigate the “intolerable situation”.

On Wednesday, however, The Village Voice ran reports of the riots, written by Howard Smith and Lucian Truscott that included unflattering descriptions of the events and its participants: “forces of faggotry,” “limp wrists” and “Sunday fag follies” just to name a few which rekindled the anger all over again.  A mob descended upon Christopher Street once again and threatened to burn down the offices of The Village Voice. Also in the mob of between 500 and 1,000 were other groups that have had unsuccessful confrontations with the police in the past and were curious how they were defeated in this situation. Another explosive street battle took place, with injuries to demonstrators and police alike, with looting in local shops, and arrests of five people. The incidents on Wednesday night lasted about an hour, and were summarized by one witness: “

The word is out. “Christopher Street shall be liberated. The fags have had it with oppression.”

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#PRIDE Month: “Where Were You During The Christopher Street (Stonewall) Riots?” – Rare Flyer – 1969

This rare flyer made by the Mattachine Society asks members of the gay and lesbian community asks “Where Were You During The Stonewall Riots?” and the main reasons for much of the tension and the aftermath.

A true glimpse at our past and the main tenants of the real problems we were facing in 1969 and in some cases still today.

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 …
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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

Black History Month/Gay History – READ: Black Panthers Leader Huey Newton’s Pro-Gay Rights Letter

A little over a year after the Stonewall riots of 1969, Black Panther Party leader Huey Newtospoke these words on August 15th, 1970, in an attempt to guide his more homophobic and patriarchal brothers into remembering that oppression, any kind of oppression is wrong, even if its directed towards gays and women.

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To The Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters About The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion.

I say ”whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the white racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest white person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counter-revolutionary, because they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counter-revolutionary, then criticize that action.

If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as [Richard] Nixon or [John] Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner. And this is really a significant part of the population, both women, and the growing number of homosexuals that we have to deal with.

ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Huey P. Newton
Black Panther Party

*From Panthers to Promise Keepers: Rethinking the Men’s Movement” – Judith Newton
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Dec 10, 2004

H/T CypherAvenue.com

#PRIDE50 -Listen to Marsha P. Johnson Talk About the Stonewall Riots In Her Own Words [RARE AUDIO]

Listen to Marsha P. Johnson Talk About the Stonewall Riots In Her Own Words – “We didn’t start the rebellion.” [RARE AUDIO]

Before her tragic death in 1992 , Eric Marcus of Making Gay History interviewed self identified gay, transvestite, drag queen activist Marsha P. Johnson (aka.Malcolm Michael Jr.) and longtime gay activist Randy Wicker about the Stonewall Riots.


I was uptown and I didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock, because when I got downtown the place was already on fire.  And it was a raid already. The riots had already started.  And they said the police went in there and set the place on fire.  They said the police set it on fire because they originally wanted the Stonewall to close, so they had several raids.”   – Marsha P. Johnson

In this rare and informative audio the details of that fateful night on June 28, 1969 come from Johnson’s own mouth and puts many of the rumors and folklore of the Stonewall Riots to rest once and for all.

History matters.

Accurate history matters even more.

The Real Heroes of Stonewall Riots: Danny Garvin – The Stonewall Riots In His Own Words (AUDIO)

Danny Garvin

One of the few remaining verified Stonewall riot  participants Danny Garvin sadly passed away at the age of 65 in December of 2014. 

Not long before his unfortunate death Danny Garvin along with fellow Stonewall veteran Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt were interviewed and described that fateful summer night in 1969.

Danny and Tommy have been noted as “the two most knowledgeable sources” on the historic riots by fellow LGBT historian David Carter.

Danny was there the night it opened (on his birthday in 1967) and became a regular customer of the Stonewall Inn,” David Carter said. “He met his first love there by dancing with him, dated the main doorman (Blonde Frankie), and was roommates with one of the men who worked in the coat check. Danny’s knowledge of the club has contributed a lot to a better understanding of the Stonewall Inn. Fortunately, Danny also happened to walk up the street soon after the June 1969 raid began, and his detailed memories of that night significantly add to our knowledge about the Uprising,” Carter added.

“Danny’s life story is all the more remarkable and historically relevant because his experiences mirrored those of his generation as if he were a gay Zelig,” Carter said. “Danny was in a gay hippie commune before Stonewall and he was roommates with gay activist Morty Manford after Stonewall. Morty Manford’s introduction of Danny Garvin and another gay friend to Manford’s parents precipitated Manford’s coming out to his parents. Morty’s mother Jeanne Manford later founded what became Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now PFLAG. He hung out with Andy Warhol’s crowd, and he founded the recovery contingent of LGBT marchers in the LGBT Pride March each June.”

Gay men like Danny Garvin are our true heroes of the riots. They have received little or no recognition while others have been given the glory for Stonewall that they do not deserve because of a certain groups revisionist history to promote their own agenda. Without gay men like Danny Garvin and Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt we would not be where we are today.

You can listen to Danny Garvin and Tommy Lanigan Schmidt in their own words recount what happened that night almost 50 years ago on June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn.

Stonewall Riots and Eminent Gay Historian David Carter Dies at 67

Stonewall Riots and Eminent Gay Historian David Carter Dies at 67

David Carter, author and gay historian who is credited with writing the definitive book about the 1969 Stonewall riots, died on May 1 at his Greenwich Village apartment in New York City. He was 67.

Via the Washington Blade:

David Carter’s 2004 book “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution” thrust Carter into the limelight as a leading expert on the June 1969 riots triggered by the now infamous police raid on the Stonewall gay bar in Greenwich Village in which the patrons fought back.

Carter’s book was the basis for the PBS American Experience film “Stonewall Uprising,” which won a Peabody Award. He also played a key role working with the U.S. National Park Service to have the site of the Stonewall bar and surrounding streets designated as a national monument and an historic landmark.

Carter is known as one of the few Gay and LGBT historians who thoroughly researched the events of what really happened over the 4 nights of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village and despite pushback presented the facts without any fictionalization or bending to any political or social agenda.

For the past 10 years David Carter had been working on – a definitive biography of gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, the co-founder of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. in the early 1960s.

There is no word if Cater’s unfinished work on Frank Kameny will be published.

Rest in Peace David.

NYC Police Dept. Apologizes for 1969 Raid at the Stonewall Inn - [VIDEO]

NYC Police Dept. Apologizes for 1969 Raid at the Stonewall Inn – [VIDEO]

New York City’s police commissioner has issued a belated apology for the 1969 police raid at the Stonewall Inn which became a catalyst for the gay rights movement.

Commissioner James O’Neill said Thursday that “the actions taken by the NYPD were wrong” at the gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

He called the actions and laws of the time discriminatory and said:

I’m certainly not going to stand up here and pretend to be an expert on what happened at Stonewall. I do know what happened should not have happened. . The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong plain and simple. The actions were discriminatory and oppressive and for that I apologize.”

The commissioner made the remarks at a kick-off event for Pride month at police headquarters.

I for one and on the behalf of my late uncle Bob Kohler, Stonewall veteran. longtime gay activist, and Mayor of Christopher Street say thank you to the N.Y.P.D.

Better late than never.

Read the Incredibly Anti-Gay 1969 NY Daily News Piece on the Stonewall Riots – “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Stinging Mad”

Since many of our younger generation don’t comprehend the virulent anti-gay culture that prevailed in 1969 when the Stonewall Riots occurred, I thought I would is re-print this incredibly homophobic 1969 article written in the New York Daily News about what happened the night of the Stonewall riots.

This is what our world looked like and how we were maligned in 1969.

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Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad

The New York Daily News, July 6, 1969
By JERRY LISKER

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. “We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over,” lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

“We’ve had all we can take from the Gestapo,” the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. “We’re putting our foot down once and for all.” The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

The thick glass shut out the outside world of the street. Inside, the Stonewall bathed in wild, bright psychedelic lights, while the patrons writhed to the sounds of a juke box on a square dance floor surrounded by booths and tables. The bar did a good business and the waiters, or waitresses, were always kept busy, as they snaked their way around the dancing customers to the booths and tables. For nearly two years, peace and tranquility reigned supreme for the Alice in Wonderland clientele.

The Raid Last Friday

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn’t protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn’t want him to see her this way, she wept.

Queen Power

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

Urged on by cries of “C’mon girls, lets go get’em,” the defenders of Stonewall launched an attack. The cops called for assistance. To the rescue came the Tactical Patrol Force.

Flushed with the excitement of battle, a fellow called Gloria pranced around like Wonder Woman, while several Florence Nightingales administered first aid to the fallen warriors. There were some assorted scratches and bruises, but nothing serious was suffered by the honeys turned Madwoman of Chaillot.

Official reports listed four injured policemen with 13 arrests. The War of the Roses lasted about 2 hours from about midnight to 2 a.m. There was a return bout Wednesday night.

Two veterans recently recalled the battle and issued a warning to the cops. “If they close up all the gay joints in this area, there is going to be all out war.”

Bruce and Nan

Both said they were refugees from Indiana and had come to New York where they could live together happily ever after. They were in their early 20’s. They preferred to be called by their married names, Bruce and Nan.

“I don’t like your paper,” Nan lisped matter-of-factly. “It’s anti-fag and pro-cop.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t see what they did to the Stonewall. Did the pigs tell you that they smashed everything in sight? Did you ask them why they stole money out of the cash register and then smashed it with a sledge hammer? Did you ask them why it took them two years to discover that the Stonewall didn’t have a liquor license.”

Bruce nodded in agreement and reached over for Nan’s trembling hands.

“Calm down, doll,” he said. “Your face is getting all flushed.”

Nan wiped her face with a tissue.

“This would have to happen right before the wedding. The reception was going to be held at the Stonewall, too,” Nan said, tossing her ashen-tinted hair over her shoulder.

“What wedding?,” the bystander asked.

Nan frowned with a how-could-anybody-be-so-stupid look. “Eric and Jack’s wedding, of course. They’re finally tieing the knot. I thought they’d never get together.”

Meet Shirley

“We’ll have to find another place, that’s all there is to it,” Bruce sighed. “But every time we start a place, the cops break it up sooner or later.”

“They let us operate just as long as the payoff is regular,” Nan said bitterly. “I believe they closed up the Stonewall because there was some trouble with the payoff to the cops. I think that’s the real reason. It’s a shame. It was such a lovely place. We never bothered anybody. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?”

Shirley Evans, a neighbor with two children, agrees that the Stonewall was not a rowdy place and the persons who frequented the club were never troublesome. She lives at 45 Christopher St.

“Up until the night of the police raid there was never any trouble there,” she said. “The homosexuals minded their own business and never bothered a soul. There were never any fights or hollering, or anything like that. They just wanted to be left alone. I don’t know what they did inside, but that’s their business. I was never in there myself. It was just awful when the police came. It was like a swarm of hornets attacking a bunch of butterflies.”

A reporter visited the now closed Stonewall and it indeed looked like a cyclone had struck the premisses.

Police said there were over 200 people in the Stonewall when they entered with a warrant. The crowd outside was estimated at 500 to 1,000. According to police, the Stonewall had been under observation for some time. Being a private club, plain clothesmen were refused entrance to the inside when they periodically tried to check the place. “They had the tightest security in the Village,” a First Division officer said, “We could never get near the place without a warrant.”

Police Talk

The men of the First Division were unable to find any humor in the situation, despite the comical overtones of the raid.

“They were throwing more than lace hankies,” one inspector said. “I was almost decapitated by a slab of thick glass. It was thrown like a discus and just missed my throat by inches. The beer can didn’t miss, though, “it hit me right above the temple.”

Police also believe the club was operated by Mafia connected owners. The police did confiscate the Stonewall’s cash register as proceeds from an illegal operation. The receipts were counted and are on file at the division headquarters. The warrant was served and the establishment closed on the grounds it was an illegal membership club with no license, and no license to serve liquor.

The police are sure of one thing. They haven’t heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street

33

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*NOTE:  The writer of this article, Jerry Lisker was actually the sports editor of The New York Daily News.  Lisker later went on to be executive sports editor of the Fox TV Network, and passed away in 1996 from brain cancer.