The only place in the city were men could dance together.
***None of what follows has been written by me, nor the video or the photos have been taken or edited by me. But I wanted to put this together as it’s a beautiful document that I hold very dear.It gives me the creeps, the good ones.
For all I know the author of the text is a 46 years old man from Virginia whose real name is unknown. Feel free to add more informations, contributions, opinions, or anything in the comments section <3 ***
The Stonewall Inn was a real dump. No liquor license. No running water. Toilets that were always overflowing. Bottom of the barrel. Their clientele was bottom of the barrel: mostly hustlers, street kids, rough trade, drag queens, and stray dykes. A lot of gays refused to go near the place but it was the only place in the city were men could dance together. June 28 1969 found the place jammed with mourners who had come from Judy Garland’s funeral at Frank Campbell Funeral Home .
It’s still not clear why the cops showed up that night since they had already busted the place out a few nights earlier. Maybe it was fallout from Mayor John Lindsay’s recent pledge to “clean up” Greenwich Village. Maybe the cops on duty just wanted another payoff. But that night the locals just weren’t in the mood. Perhaps it was grief over Garland’s death, perhaps the sweltering heat, perhaps it was because a lot of young homeless queens in the bar were squatting across the street in Sheridan Square, and literally nowhere else to go. In a normal bust, the cops generally released anyone able to show ID who wasn’t also in drag. But that night, instead of scurrying on home, they joined a growing crowd outside yelling taunts and come ons at the increasing uneasy police detail.
When the cops appeared with the drag queens, crossdressers, bull dykes, and leather daddies they had taken prisoner the crowd started pelting them with pennies and shouts of “dirty copper.” Oden and Nick, veterans at being arrested, were prepared to go quietly when a cop shoved the drag queen directly in front of Nick. She whirled around, stared the officer in the face and knocked him to the sidewalk with her purse. It was the bitch slap heard round the world. The cop scrambled to his feet, drew his baton presumably to beat his assailant to a pump only to go down a second time when another queen lifted him off the ground with an upper cut. At exactly the same moment, a young lesbian was being stuffed into the paddy wagon with a cop on each struggling limb “Are you guys gonna do something?” she yelled to the now enormous crowd.
And in one transformative moment it was on. Years of resentment blew up like nitro and the crowd surged forward, with the drag queens leading the charge. The police found themselves barricaded inside the bar piling chairs against the front door while the crowd outside uprooted a parking meter to using as a battering ram to smash down the door. Thus began the three day riot that gave gay liberation its name. Riot police found themselves facing threats they had never seen while breaking up peace demonstrations. Things like drag queens brandishing stiletto heels like machettes, impromptu rockettes style kick lines, or or chants of
We are the Stonewall girls
We wear our hair in curls
We don’t wear underwear
We show our pubic hair.
The New York Times tried to bury it, reporting it on page 33 (4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’ Raid: Melee Near Sheridan Square Follows Action at Bar), but gay pride was born that night. Speaking of the change, Alan Ginsberg said “They’ve lost that woulded look fags all had ten years ago” Gay Pride festivals were held in New York, L.A., and Chicago, on the anniversary.
After Stonewall everything started to change. Gay liberation became a joyous battle cry shared by queers of all ages, genders, races and creeds. Little rainbows began appearing on bumper stickers, flags, and lapel pins (surely a nod to the merry old land of Oz?). Homosexuality was expunged, finally, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The censorship laws that had dogged Irving Klaw were knocked aside making photos of split beavers and hard cocks legal. Imagery that would have landed John Willie in jail became standard newsstand fodder. “Story of O”, long available only in French, became an English bestseller, and began its infiltration into the minds and libidos of millions. Free love hippydippydom may have been the public face of the sexual revolution, but leather was the real vanguard. Colored hankies started appearing crammed into tight jean pockets flagging openly the most private of interests. Leatherbars opened in every major city, both here and abroad. Larry Townsend’s “The Leatherman’s Handbook” hit the stands in 1972, the first ever field manual for the practice and culture of SM. Townsend had spent years collecting data on the sexual lives of leatherman by circulating his so called “Leather List” to everyone he knew. Mimeographed copies were passed to friends and to friends of friends who filled out their habits, haunts and fantasies and mailed them back to Townsend in Los Angeles. True there was some grumbling among Larry’s fellow tops for revealing the trade secrets of SM to the world. But, that slowed down when the deluge of bottoms began pouring into the community, each clutching a copy of Larry’s book.
“New levels. New levels. You think there’s a cap, but you are wrong. Surprise me, amaze me, break new grounds, shift more paradigms. Twist more realities, make up new worlds. Believe more shiny new lies. Amaze me. Surprise me. New levels. New levels.”—
“For example: you might like the feel and appearance of your legs when you shave them. But keep in mind that you started shaving your legs because someone gave you a razor and you saw the nice smooth legs in a magazine. You don’t necessarily want to play into the image that women are always smooth and hairless, because we aren’t. I’m not saying that you can’t shave your legs and be a feminist, definitely not. Just…maybe go out in shorts with stubble sometimes :-)”—http://community.livejournal.com/kissmyass_cosmo/347017.html