Today in Gay History
The much admired Stephen
@ Band of Thebes
pointedly demonstrates that, the
event of the Stonewall riots, while
important, was not seminal:
. . .Harry Hay, ONE, Phyllis & Del, Daughters of Bilitis, the Mattachine Society, ECHO, the picketing of the White House and Philadelphia's City Hall, or any other gay history prior to 1969 [are often overlooked because of the attention given to the Stonewall riots. Stonewall is an essential, explosive midpoint in the timeline of gay rights, but . . .it [is] a crushing injustice . . .[to] cast it as the birth of the movement.
For seventeen years before the riots, organized gay groups fought for gay equality, published gay magazines, won Supreme Court cases (1958), held national gay conferences (1960), successfully lobbied state legislatures to rescind their sodomy laws (1962), and promoted gay visibility, protesting publicly against anti-gay discrimination (1965). To erase these landmark achievements by claiming that the gay rights movement began with a bar brawl is to disgrace those pioneers and history itself. God knows bravery wears many outfits and symbols are powerful, but the drag queens and Stonewall regulars fighting police and doing chorus line kicks while singing, "We are the Village girls, we wear our hair in curls," mustn't obliterate their less cinematic, more scholarly forerunners.
The Lead-up to Stonewall: A Retrospective~~~
Click here for a recent interview with Frank Kameny and pictorial retrospective of pre-Stonewall picket signs