In the summer of 1967 I first had sex with a man who picked me near the subway stop at Sheridan Square. The Stonewall didn’t exist yet but the area was known to be a gay cruising spot.
The area wasn’t the carnival of Bleeker and McDougal Streets, nor the East Village riot of St Mark’s Place. It was mostly residential. not far from where the Village Voice had their offices.
I hung out in the Village quite a bit during 1967, testing my wings in preparation for leaving home and coming out.
There were already gay and lesbian movements in NYC, SF and LA. I met someone, a sister in the early stages of transition. She told me SF was the place to be because there were trans-organizations there and doctors who would give hormone scripts.
In April of 1967 there had been the pageant in NYC that was documented in The Queen, which I posted recently. Dr Benjamin’s book was out and available.
Fast Forward To 1969:
I was living in Berkeley and started transition, first coming out to friends. Welfare Department Social workers were able to find people who were in turn able to refer me to a place out on Van Ness Ave called the Center for Special Problems. They interviewed me, thought I was cute and gave me a bunch of hormones. That was in March.
At the same time gay rights organizations had picket lines up in front of several businesses.
I took part in the People’s Park Riots in May. I was so androgynous at that point people were struggling to figure out pronouns. By early June I was sliding into full time and by mid-month I had stopped sliding in that direction and was full time.
Then at the end of June Stonewall happened. We didn’t have the internet and it wasn’t reported in the mainstream but we had the underground press. In the weeks that followed I read every article I could get my hands on in both the gay and straight underground press.
By the time Stonewall 30 rolled around it was hard to recognize the Stonewall I had read about in the summer of 1969 in the stories floated as facts.
It wasn’t about trans-folks. We have our own history. It wasn’t particularly about people of color. It wasn’t the Birth of the Gay Liberation Movement.
If anything it marked the end of the closet and the start of outness. With the start of outness came a 50 year march toward being just a different kind of normal.
The first years of Pride Day were political. Now they are more a party, a celebration of simply being ourselves.
And maybe that is really what Stonewall’s importance is. A punctuation point, the start of a new chapter or a volume 2 of a series of books.
Who knows maybe a celebration is more appropriate than those who want Pride Day to be political.