Here’s a belated piece for you: some history about the Stonewall Riots.
There’s no queer history unit in the typical U.S. history class. Yet each June cities across the U.S. celebrate Pride and, perhaps unbeknownst to them, the anniversary of nearly a week’s worth of rioting in downtown Manhattan.
Without our history to provide context for our movement, we have no way to understand how far we’ve come, how far we’ve yet to go, or why we’re wearing a rainbow cape and tiara in public. With that in mind, let’s explore the symbolic beginning of the struggle for queer rights in the United States.
-The Stonewall uprising (or Stonewall riots) is considered the birth of the LGBT rights movement, but it wasn’t the first or only queer uprising in American history. Three years earlier in August 1966 queers in San Francisco rose up, fighting against police in an incident called the Compton’s Cafeteria riots. Susan Stryker has since made a film about the uprising, 2005’s “Screaming Queens.”
- The Stonewall Inn is a bar and club in New York City’s Greenwich village. In June of 1969 same-sex activity was still illegal in New York state, and the Stonewall was a notorious hangout for homeless queer youth, drag kings and queens, trans folks, gays, lesbians and queers of all stripes.
- Police entered the bar on the night of June 27, trying to shut it down for serving alcohol without a license. Several other gay bars in the neighborhood were recently closed for similar reasons — liquor licenses could be suspended for any illegal (read: queer) activity happening inside the bar.
- Authorities rounded up those without IDs, bar employees, and anyone whose gender marker on their ID didn’t match their gender presentation. A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the bar to heckle police as they loaded people into police vans. The Stonewall patrons resisted. Punching, kicking — some people escaped from the police van into the crowd. The crowd began joining in, throwing coins, bottles and trash at officers.
-Violence broke out. The police retreated inside Stonewall. The crowd began full-on rioting in the streets. A trashcan went through the front window of the Stonewall, shattering it. It was followed by lighter fluid and lit matches. One of the fires caught. A loose parking meter was torn from the ground as some rioters began using it as a battering ram against the now-barricaded door of the Stoneall Inn, trying to get to police.
-Police called in a riot squad. Authorities chased the crowd; the crowd chased back. A Rockette-style kick-line was formed by drag queens, singing and mocking the oncoming formation of riot police. This wasn’t an easily-scared group of queers succumbing to police brutality —that night and for the next five days, queers fought back.
-Storme DeLarverie, who passed away this May, is the lesbian/drag king credited with throwing the first punch, and whose subsequent assault by police might’ve sparked the counter-violence from the crowd gathered outside the bar.
-Trans activist and co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) Marsha P. Johnson is credited with throwing the first bottle at the raiding police officers. STAR was founded shortly after the Stonewall uprising, and Johnson and fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera advocated for and provided shelter to homeless queer and gender non-conforming youth. The momentum groups like this created following Stonewall are what kept the LGBT rights movement thriving.
-The first Pride parade was held in New York City the following year in June of 1970, not as a pride parade but as an anniversary celebration of the Stonewall uprising. June has remained Pride month ever since.
As both a citation for this piece and recommendation for further reading, see Martin Duberman’s “Stonewall.”
"…we know nothing about Sappho. Or worse: everything we know is wrong. Even the most basic “facts” are simply not so, or in need of a stringent critical reexamination. A single example. We are told over and over again that Sappho “was married to Kerkylas of Andros, who is never mentioned in any of the extant fragments of her poetry” (Snyder 1989:3). Not surprising, since it’s a joke name: he’s Dick Allcock from the Isle of MAN. It’s been over 139 years since William Mure pointed this out… yet one finds this piece of information repeated without question from book to book, usually omitting the dubious source, usually omitting any reference at all."
-Holt Parker, ‘Sappho Schoolmistress’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 123 (1993)
eccecorinna asked: Now you have me looking up 18th century Parisian geography to see who else lived in close proximity to one another.
Oh my gosh I know!! Okay well secretly (okay no because I posted about it once) I was actually making a map of all our fave frev peeps who lived in Paris. But then it got too overwhelming and I got too nervous about making mistakes…BUT, I still have some leftover information:
Couthon lived about as close to Robespierre as Saint-Just did
Collot and Billaud-Varenne and Brissot all lived within like legit a couple minutes from one another, North-ish from where Saint-Just lived.
Danton and Camille’s places were on the other side of the Seine from Robespierre and company. Like it would actually take time to walk that. I believe this was during the period when Camille is living with Lucille and Horace, that he’s living so near Danton. Danton and Camille were also within minutes of one another (and for a time so was Marat!)
sidenote— some of these guys moved around a lot, so not all of these arrangements were permanent, or even necessarily happening at the same time, etc
Well anyway, because I randomly noticed his street in this image now I have to share some random trivia I noticed awhile back from fiddling with old maps of Paris and Google Maps.
Robespierre didn’t live far from where Saint-Just lived, and they were both located (like many other deputies) near the Jacobin Club.
Saint-Just moved to Paris in late September of 1792. After staying for a couple days at another hotel, Saint-Just moved onto rue Gaillon to stay at the hôtel des Etats-Unis! He’d end up staying there until Spring of 1794.
Currently that particular hôtel des Etats-Unis doesn’t exist anymore. Now there’s a different building that stands in its place, a bank. (Present-day street address: Banque BCP, 30 Avenue de l’Opéra, 75002 Paris, France).
(That’s Avenue l’Opera on left side of the picture, and rue Gaillon on the right side of the picture)
The walking distance between Robespierre’s and Saint-Just’s two locations according to Google Maps? About 10 minutes, depending on the route you take!
However roads have changed a bit since Robespierre and Saint-Just’s time. For example Avenue l’Opera, which meets with rue Gaillon to form the corner where Banque BCP stands on today wasn’t created until the late 1800s. So, today’s walking routes between Robespierre’s and Saint-Just’s past locations vary slightly from those of the past. Here’s an 18th century map of Paris where I’ve marked roughly their locations.
(I’ve put it at a tilt, that way it’s easier to compare the present-day Google Maps picture to this 18th century map…..also I should’ve moved Saint-Just over a bit but oops too late now! Hey I said roughly!!)
So things look slightly different, however I can’t imagine that the walking time between the two locations was too radically different then from what it is now.