Screening Of ‘Stonewall Outloud’ Celebrates History With A Homecoming

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.

Lance Bass and Michael Turchin

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.

Stonewall 50: From There To Here

Fifty years ago today, in a small Greenwich Village bar, a raid by New York police unwittingly gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
Pete Buttigieg with husband Chasten before last night’s presidential Democratic debate

Fifty years ago today, in a small Greenwich Village bar, a raid by New York police unwittingly gave birth to the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

That journey would include the free-wheeling 1970s, the horror of the AIDS epidemic which galvanized our community in the 1980s, the rise of openly LGBTQ politicians in the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, governor’s offices and state legislatures, the increased visibility in the media, the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, and marriage equality.

And that just scratches the surface of the beginning of our story.

It might seem like a lot in a relatively short amount of time, but for those who were there at the Stonewall Inn and since, every slur suffered, every homophobic confrontation, every Pride flag raised in solidarity, has been its own journey.

I never forget whose shoulders we stand upon today.

And also, the vast number of LGBTQ allies who stood with us on the way to here, and continue forward as we look forward.

Even as we remember where we came from, it’s important to acknowledge the struggles for equality that are still with us.

Via the Human Rights Campaign:

• In 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who they are.

• LGBTQ youth continue to face elevated levels of bullying and rejection, and many associated physical and mental health challenges.

• According to FBI hate crimes statistics from 2017, the most recently available data, the bureau reported a surge in hate crimes disproportionately affecting LGBTQ people, Black people and religious minorities, especially those living at the intersection of multiple identities.

• At least 100 transgender people — most of whom are transgender women of color — have been the victims of fatal violence in the U.S. since the beginning of 2015. In 2019, at least 11 Black transgender women have been killed — the vast majority as the result of gun violence.

But, today, for a moment, we stop to remember (and maybe dance a bit).

Back in 2011, in my first blog post for The Randy Report, I shared that growing up as a kid in Texas I was “afraid of everything.”

It’s only because of the heroes of Stonewall that I somehow got on a train in April 1993, from New York City to Washington DC, alone (but not really), and took part in the Gay & Lesbian March on Washington.

That a little over ten years later, surprising no one more than me, I would walk into a Toronto courtroom and exchange actual marriage vows with my husband, Michael – before anyone in the United States could legally marry.

And, that I would find the nerve to take to this blog every single day for years to write about LGBTQ equality and more.

I’ll try to wrap this up with a tweet by Chasten Buttigieg last night before the Democratic debate where his husband, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, became the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate to take the stage as a credible contender.

If anything sums up my personal thoughts on this incredible journey, so far, it’s this:

If you had told my ten-year-old self this would ever be possible, I’d have never believed you.


NYC Police Commissioner Officially Apologizes For Stonewall Riots

The producers of WorldPride 2019 | Stonewall 50 have publicly asked for the New York City Police Department to officially apologize for the violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.
The historic Stonewall Inn (photo by annulla is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Is it ever too late to apologize?

The producers of WorldPride 2019 | Stonewall 50 have publicly asked for the New York City Police Department to officially apologize for the violent police raid at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.

The brutal raids in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, led to what has become known as the Stonewall Uprising as drag queens, gays, lesbians, and transgender people fought back leading to more protests against police brutality. The event is credited for giving birth to the modern-day LGBTQ movement.

The Executive Board of Heritage Pride, Inc., the organization responsible for producing over 25 events in New York City celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, issued a statement which read, in part:

“Last night, we voted unanimously to demand that the NYPD formally apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community for the violent police raid that triggered the Stonewall Uprising. We offer our stage at the Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally on Friday, June 28, 2019 for Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill to do so on behalf of the Department.”

The statement acknowledged “significant strides” made by the NYPD under Commissioner O’Neill, but asks the Department to “take responsibility for the decades of police violence committed against” the LGBTQ community in New York City.

The executive board added that the “small, albeit meaningful step” of an apology would demonstrate “what is possible for the future of our community and our movement.”

“Commissioner O’Neill and the NYPD, the eyes of the world are on our city, and we call upon you to show what real change can look like,” the board wrote in closing. “The platform is yours on June 28th.”

In an interview with radio station 1010WINS, openly gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also called for an apology.

“The NYPD in the past has apologized for other incidents that have occurred, and so I think the NYPD apologizing on this would be a very, very good thing, and it’s something they should do,” explained Johnson.

“I would love for it happen this month, and I will bring it up to the police commissioner,” Johnson continued. “Because I think it would be an important step toward further healing and reconciliation and recognizing what happened in that crucial moment, and not just in American history, but New York history in June of 1969.”

When reached for comment regarding an apology to the LGBTQ community, Commissioner O’Neill told 1010WINS, “The NYPD of today is much different than the department of 50 years ago, and a number of important changes have been implemented that bring the police and all the communities we serve closer together.”

With an estimated three million people expected to travel from around the world to New York City for the WorldPride events, O’Neill said, “We are looking forward to the many events surrounding this year’s milestone anniversary, and to working with all attendees to ensure that everyone not only is safe, but feels safe, too.”

This isn’t the first time the idea of an apology from the NYPD has been floated.

Back in June 2017, at an event hosted by the NYC Bar Association, an attendee in the audience asked O’Neill if he would “apologize for the discrimination and violence” that occurred at the historic raid.

“I think that’s been addressed already,” replied O’Neill. “We’re moving forward.”

But this morning, Eric Bottcher, chief of staff for Speaker Johnson, tweeted that O’Neill formally apologized to the LGBTQ community at the first ever NYPD LGBTQ Pride Month Community Safety Briefing this morning.

“I’m certainly not going to be an expert of what happened at Stonewall,” O’Neill told the press. “The actions taken by the NYPD were wrong … and for that I apologize.”

From The New York Times:

“I think it would be irresponsible to go through World Pride month and not to speak of the events at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“What happened should not have happened. The actions taken by the N.Y.P.D. were wrong, plain and simple,” he added.

“The actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize.”