By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.
Over the last fifty years, the story of what took place at the Stonewall Inn in the sweltering early hours of June 28, 1969, has become more legend and lore than verifiable fact. The first recorded archival accounts by those who were there didn’t take place until twenty years later with the audio documentary, Remembering Stonewall.
StoryCorps has preserved the vital historic accounts of those events and this year also launched an effort to record the stories of the LGBTQ Community through its app. Thirty years after the firsthand stories were recorded, filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have brought them to life in Stonewall Outloud and home to the Stonewall Inn.
Narrated by RuPaul, the film honors past with present and reminds us exactly how monumental those nights were, and our history is as a community.
In a special screening at the legendary bar on Wednesday night, a capacity crowd was transfixed listening to the words of those who had paved the way for them as some of today’s most recognizable LGBTQ talent (Lance Bass, Daniel Franzese, Michael Turchin, Charlie Carver, Laith Ashley and more) channeled their spirit.
Afterward, Michael Musto hosted a Q & A with Bailey and featured Stonewall veteran and Stonewall bartender, Fredd E. “Tree” Sequoia. In Stonewall Outloud, Tree is “played” by none other than Adam Rippon. If you think he’s sassy, pull up a barstool and have a chat with Tree.
He has spent 51 years working at gay bars in the Village, has all the Tea (and spills it) and has no plans to retire. He said, “I plan on dropping dead behind the bar here. Then the owners will have to clean me up!”
Stories are not just a community’s history; it is their pride. If we find time to listen to each other’s stories, we’d learn they are also our joy.
You can watch Stonewall Outloud below.
Lawrence Pfeil, Jr., is a freelance writer/playwright who has reviewed film and theatre, both on and off-Broadway, for media outlets including The Randy Report, the New York Blade, and Edge Publications.