Pride & Pageantry On Display At Stonewall 50 Commemoration

The crowd at the Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally (image via Twitter/NYCPride)

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

Steps away from “where pride began,” World Pride hosted the “Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally” before an audience filling both Christopher and Grove Streets to capacity around Sheridan Square.

Marking the first night of the Stonewall Uprising, it was a historic event in World Pride’s impressive spectrum of attractions for visitors gathered from around the world as one to celebrate Community.

Starting off the proceeding with a true international flare was Fogo Azul, an all-woman Brazilian samba reggae drumline entering before the crowd in attendance quickly turning the summer night into a hot street dance.

New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio welcomed Pride visitors to the city and paid tribute to the Stonewall veterans who were the reason for the evenings gathering. Along with current Stonewall Inn owner, Stacy Lentz, the Mayor called those who rose up fifty years ago to the stage presenting them with a Mayoral proclamation declaring, June 28, 2019 as “Stonewall Day.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) presents “Stonewall Day” proclamation
(photos: Lawrence Pfeil Jr)

Drag trio Stephanie’s Child took to the stage for a performance and served as mistresses of ceremonies for the night welcoming a roster of LGBT+ notables who have gotten the Community to today and continue to fight for equality, civil rights and justice throughout the world.

Stephanie’s Child

Notable among the speakers was Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse nightclub and founder of onePULSE Foundation.

Poma give a stirring speech recounting her son’s journey of coming out as a gay man and losing him to AIDS when he was only 28 years old. Through her son she learned the importance of “safe spaces” for LGBT+ people like nightclubs where they can gather and be themselves.

Barbara Poma (at podium)

In spite of the horrific tragedy of mass murder, hate crime at her own ‘safe space,’ Poma noted how the conversation about the safety of Black and Brown LGBTs has been elevated and needs to continue as they are disproportionately affected by hate crimes.

Considering all the people of color present when police raided the Stonewall Inn, maybe we haven’t come as far we’d like to be believe.

More photos from the event.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

A blessing of unicorns

And some eye-candy in the crowd was nice, too 🙂

News Round-Up: May 30, 2019

• When the hot tub gets 'that much hotter' thanks to InstaHunk Guoyang510 (above).

Some news items you might have missed:

• When the hot tub gets ‘that much hotter’ thanks to InstaHunk Guoyang510 (above).

• Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, key figures in the gay rights movement, will be honored with a permanent monument in Greenwich Village near the Stonewall Inn.

• A 38-year-old gay man wrote to Slate’s “Dear Prudence” advice column asking whether he’s morally obliged to tell a female co-worker that he found her 18-year-old son appearing on an adult cam site.

• For the first time in decades, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has scheduled a hearing to discuss legislation to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state. Republicans have routinely opposed statehood due to the vast majority of registered Democrats that reside there.

• A Brazilian man has been left in a vegetative state after being beaten in a homophobic attack.

• A new animated children’s series from Hulu, The Bravest Knight, features two gay dads, (voiced by TR Knight and Wilson Cruz) Sir Cedric and Prince Andrew, who share the adventures of Cedric’s journey to knighthood with their daughter and aspiring knight, Nia.

RuPaul, Christine Baranski, Wanda Sykes, Donna Murphy and A.J. McLean (of the Backstreet Boys) also appear in the series which debuts June 21.

Madonna’s “I Rise” Is An Empowering Anthem For Pride

Madonna drops the second single, “I Rise,” from her upcoming album, Madame X.

Acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, the Queen of Pop dedicates the song to “all marginalized people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their mind.”

In a statement, Madonna says the positive message of the track “encourages all individuals to be who they are, to speak their minds and to love themselves.”

The new track begins with a sample of openly bisexual high school student Emma Gonzales’s famous quote at a rally shortly after the deadly mass shooting at her school in Parkland, Florida.

“They say us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS!”

The single’s release comes just a day before Madge will be honored with the Advocate for Change Award at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 4. Madonna is the second person and first woman to ever receive this recognition, which is awarded to a person who changed the game for LGBTQ people around the world through their work.

“I Rise” follows the release of “Medellín,” Madonna’s collaboration with Latin pop star Maluma.

Before the album’s release on June 14, Madonna has announced three more tracks will drop: “Crave” on May 10, dance track “Future” on May 17, and “Dark Ballet” on June 7.

New Docu-Series ‘PRIDE’ Explores LGBT Pride Celebrations Around The World

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York, the new docu-series Pride - The LGBTQ+ History Series follows award-winning filmmakers Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa as they travel to different Pride celebrations around the globe to learn about LGBTQ+ history and how it can inform our communities going forward.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York, the new docu-series Pride – The LGBTQ+ History Series follows award-winning filmmakers Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa as they travel to different Pride celebrations around the globe to learn about LGBTQ+ history and how it can inform our communities going forward.

Over six episodes, the series will travel to various pride celebrations in New York City, Salt Lake City, Hong Kong, Palm Springs, Calgary and Berlin.

Perhaps best known as the ‘outspoken’ original cast member on Logo TV and MTV Canada’s 1 Girl 5 Gays, producer/director Yerxa has worked behind the scenes as a producer on some of Canada’s most successful factual television shows including The Amazing Race Canada, Canada’s Smartest Person and Still Standing.

Mark Kenneth Woods (L) and Michael Yerxa (R)

Woods is a multi-award winning filmmaker whose work has been screened in over 400 festivals and galleries around the world. A familiar face on Canada’s OUTtv Network, Woods is known as the creator and star of various TV series (The Face of Furry Creek, The House of Venus Show) and the popular LGBTQ commercial for Starbucks “Coffee Frenemies” starring Bianca Del Rio and Adore Delano.

Pride will debut on television on OUTtv Network and streaming via OUTtvGo in Spring 2019.

For more information, click over to the official website here.

Trans Pioneer & Stonewall Activist Marsha P. Johnson Finally Gets NYTimes Obituary

Marsha P. Johnson

Twenty-six years after her death, Marsha P. Johnson, transgender pioneer & Stonewall activist is finally being recognized by The New York Times.

Noting that obituaries in the Times have long been dominated by white men, the new series Overlooked includes a lengthy paean to Johnson honoring her groundbreaking activism on behalf of the LGBT community.

Marsha P. Johnson was an activist, a prostitute, a drag performer and, for nearly three decades, a fixture of street life in Greenwich Village. She was a central figure in a gay liberation movement energized by the 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn. She was a model for Andy Warhol. She battled severe mental illness. She was usually destitute and, for much of her life, effectively homeless.

When she died at 46, under murky circumstances, in summer 1992, Johnson was mourned by her many friends, but her death did not attract much notice in the mainstream press.

In the years since, however, interest in her legacy has soared. She has been praised for her insistent calls for social and economic justice; for working on behalf of homeless street youth ostracized by their families for being gay or otherwise not conforming to traditional ideas about gender; and, later, for her advocacy on behalf of AIDS patients. Some have called her a saint.

Although the term transgender wasn’t in wide use during her lifetime, Johnson identified by a rotating list of labels from gay, transvestite or simply “queen.”

In a 1992 interview, Johnson declared, “I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville, until I became a drag queen.”

In a life long riddled with strife and conflict, Johnson was known to live her joyful exuberance even as she worked for LGBT acceptance.

“As long as gay people don’t have their rights all across America,” she once said, “there’s no reason for celebration.”

Read the full, well-deserved profile at The New York Times.

(h/t The OUTfront)

First Permanent Rainbow Flag To Be Flown On Federal Land

Even as the Trump administration lobs grenades at the LGBTQ community by rescinding Obama-era protections for trans people in the workplace and issuing “religious liberty” executive orders meant to undermine advances in LGBTQ rights, good news arrives that for the first time a rainbow Pride flag will permanently fly over federal land beginning October 11.

This coming Wednesday at noon, the international symbol for the LGBT community will be raised above the Stonewall National Monument in Manhattan. The flag will be maintained by the National Park Service.

The Stonewall National Monument is the first U.S. National Monument dedicated to LGBT rights and history. The Obama administration awarded the designation on June 24, 2016.

The raising of the flag falls on the 30th anniversary of the March on Washington for LGBT rights in 1987, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered to call for an end to discrimination as well as more federal funding for AIDS research and treatment.

Stonewall Riots: Newspaper Reports “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad”

Click to enlarge pic

Props to JoeMyGod for finding this newspaper report on the Stonewall riots 48 years ago.

As we all celebrate Pride Month, it’s always important to remember why we “pride” and who’s shoulders we now stand on.

You’ll note how condescending the writing is: “She was a he;” “lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting;” “do whatever little girls do…”


-by Jerry Lisker, New York Daily News, July 6th 1969

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. “We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over,” lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

“We’ve had all we can take from the Gestapo,” the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. “We’re putting our foot down once and for all.” The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

The thick glass shut out the outside world of the street. Inside, the Stonewall bathed in wild, bright psychedelic lights, while the patrons writhed to the sounds of a juke box on a square dance floor surrounded by booths and tables. The bar did a good business and the waiters, or waitresses, were always kept busy, as they snaked their way around the dancing customers to the booths and tables. For nearly two years, peace and tranquility reigned supreme for the Alice in Wonderland clientele.

The Raid Last Friday

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn’t protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn’t want him to see her this way, she wept.

Queen Power

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

Urged on by cries of “C’mon girls, lets go get ’em,” the defenders of Stonewall launched an attack. The cops called for assistance. To the rescue came the Tactical Patrol Force.

Flushed with the excitement of battle, a fellow called Gloria pranced around like Wonder Woman, while several Florence Nightingales administered first aid to the fallen warriors. There were some assorted scratches and bruises, but nothing serious was suffered by the honeys turned Madwoman of Chaillot.

Official reports listed four injured policemen with 13 arrests. The War of the Roses lasted about 2 hours from about midnight to 2 a.m. There was a return bout Wednesday night.

Two veterans recently recalled the battle and issued a warning to the cops. “If they close up all the gay joints in this area, there is going to be all out war.”

Bruce and Nan

Both said they were refugees from Indiana and had come to New York where they could live together happily ever after. They were in their early 20’s. They preferred to be called by their married names, Bruce and Nan.

“I don’t like your paper,” Nan lisped matter-of-factly. “It’s anti-fag and pro-cop.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t see what they did to the Stonewall. Did the pigs tell you that they smashed everything in sight? Did you ask them why they stole money out of the cash register and then smashed it with a sledge hammer? Did you ask them why it took them two years to discover that the Stonewall didn’t have a liquor license.”

Bruce nodded in agreement and reached over for Nan’s trembling hands.

“Calm down, doll,” he said. “Your face is getting all flushed.”

Nan wiped her face with a tissue.

“This would have to happen right before the wedding. The reception was going to be held at the Stonewall, too,” Nan said, tossing her ashen-tinted hair over her shoulder.

“What wedding?,” the bystander asked.

Nan frowned with a how-could-anybody-be-so-stupid look. “Eric and Jack’s wedding, of course. They’re finally tying the knot. I thought they’d never get together.”

Meet Shirley

“We’ll have to find another place, that’s all there is to it,” Bruce sighed. “But every time we start a place, the cops break it up sooner or later.”

“They let us operate just as long as the payoff is regular,” Nan said bitterly. “I believe they closed up the Stonewall because there was some trouble with the payoff to the cops. I think that’s the real reason. It’s a shame. It was such a lovely place. We never bothered anybody. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?”

Shirley Evans, a neighbor with two children, agrees that the Stonewall was not a rowdy place and the persons who frequented the club were never troublesome. She lives at 45 Christopher St.

“Up until the night of the police raid there was never any trouble there,” she said. “The homosexuals minded their own business and never bothered a soul. There were never any fights or hollering, or anything like that. They just wanted to be left alone. I don’t know what they did inside, but that’s their business. I was never in there myself. It was just awful when the police came. It was like a swarm of hornets attacking a bunch of butterflies.”

A reporter visited the now closed Stonewall and it indeed looked like a cyclone had struck the premises.

Police said there were over 200 people in the Stonewall when they entered with a warrant. The crowd outside was estimated at 500 to 1,000. According to police, the Stonewall had been under observation for some time. Being a private club, plain clothesmen were refused entrance to the inside when they periodically tried to check the place. “They had the tightest security in the Village,” a First Division officer said, “We could never get near the place without a warrant.”

Police Talk

The men of the First Division were unable to find any humor in the situation, despite the comical overtones of the raid.

“They were throwing more than lace hankies,” one inspector said. “I was almost decapitated by a slab of thick glass. It was thrown like a discus and just missed my throat by inches. The beer can didn’t miss, though, “it hit me right above the temple.”

Police also believe the club was operated by Mafia connected owners. The police did confiscate the Stonewall’s cash register as proceeds from an illegal operation. The receipts were counted and are on file at the division headquarters. The warrant was served and the establishment closed on the grounds it was an illegal membership club with no license, and no license to serve liquor.

The police are sure of one thing. They haven’t heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street.

New York City To Host WorldPride 2019 To Coincide With 50th Anniversary Of Stonewall Riots

Via press release:

NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, today joined with Heritage of Pride, organizers of NYC Pride, to formally announce the two-year countdown to WorldPride 2019.

Set to take place in New York City in June 2019, the global celebration of Pride will coincide with the historic 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement—making it a year to underscore New York City’s progress and resilience as a global LGBTQ capital.

The announcement was made as New York City’s 2017 Pride celebrations are currently underway this week. A new invitational campaign, titled “One World, One Pride, One New York City – Unite in 2019” launched yesterday in New York City, with additional promotion and activations taking place in Madrid during the upcoming WorldPride celebrations there June 23–July 2.

“As a city with such a rich history of fighting inequality and an unwavering dedication to social progress, we are thrilled to host WorldPride 2019,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I can think of no better time to celebrate the LGBTQ community than on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall—a seminal moment in the struggle for inclusion and human rights that has reverberated across the country for decades.”

Click here for more info on WorldPride 2019 as well as NYC 2017 Pride.

President Obama Celebrates Designation Of Stonewall National Monument

On Friday, June 24, President Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument – the first national monument dedicated to telling the story of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s struggle for equal rights.

In this week’s address, the President talked about the importance of preserving and sharing this significant part of the American story.

President Obama also reflected on the amazing progress LGBT Americans have seen over the course of his administration.

Over the past seven years, we’ve seen achievements that would have been unimaginable to the folks who, knowingly or not, started the modern LGBT movement at Stonewall. Today, all Americans are protected by a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is history. Insurance companies can no longer turn you away because of who you are. Transgender Americans are more visible than ever, helping to make our nation more inclusive and welcoming for all. And one year ago this weekend, we lit the White House in every color – because in every state in America, you’re now free to marry the person you love.

President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument

Via White House press release:

Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have made historic strides in expanding opportunities and advancing equality and justice for all Americans, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. From major legislative achievements to historic court victories to important policy changes, the President has fought to promote the equal rights of all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love. That commitment to leveling the playing field and ensuring equal protection under the law is the bedrock principle this nation was founded on and has guided the President’s actions in support of all Americans.

Today, President Obama will designate a new national monument at the historic site of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City to honor the broad movement for LGBT equality. The new Stonewall National Monument will protect the area where, on June 28, 1969, a community’s uprising in response to a police raid sparked the modern LGBT civil rights movement in the United States.

The designation will create the first official National Park Service unit dedicated to telling the story of LGBT Americans, just days before the one year anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 states. Additionally, in celebration of the designation and New York City’s Pride festival, the White House, in coordination with the National Park Foundation and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, is releasing a video that will be played on the billboards in Times Square on Saturday, June 25, beginning at 12:00pm ET.

The new Stonewall National Monument will permanently protect Christopher Park, a historic community park at the intersection of Christopher Street, West 4th Street and Grove Street directly across from the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The monument’s boundary encompasses approximately 7.7 acres of land, including Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

Today’s designation follows years of strong support from local officials, organizations, members of Congress and citizens in New York City and across the country, as demonstrated recently at a public meeting held in New York City in May. The National Park Foundation is also today announcing that it will support the establishment of a local Friends Group to support the monument and that it will work with local and national organizations and the community to raise funding for dedicated National Park Service personnel, a temporary ranger station and visitor center, research and materials, exhibits, community outreach, and public education.