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04 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
California Insurance Commissioner warns against denying PrEP coverage Sen. Harris introduces drug access bill FROM STAFF REPORTS On June 20, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara put the state’s insurance companies on notice that discriminatory practices against HIVnegative individuals who used pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, or PrEP, to prevent contracting the disease, is unlawful. The notice is the result of a Department of Insurance investigation that uncovered evidence of discrimination against Californians who use PrEP. The investigation found that some of these companies had denied or limited coverage, restricted products available through accelerated underwriting, placed conditions on coverage, or charged higher rates. “PrEP prevents HIV, pure and simple, and I will not tolerate insurers violating California law by discriminating against
people taking proactive steps to be healthy,” Lara stated in a press release. “The Department of Insurance warns insurers to stop discrimination against PrEP users and review their underwriting rules before we
take action. As we celebrate Pride Month, ending HIV infections is within our reach. But first we have to eliminate prejudice and fear that still stands in the way of a cure.” A department spokesperson told the Los Angeles Blade that there is a strong commitment to roll back barriers and prevent discriminatory practices by the insurers, especially in health care access issues. While the investigation did not find widespread patterns of discriminatory underwriting guidelines and practices, it determined that there had been cases in which some individuals’ ability to access the medication had been limited. The notice asks insurers to review their underwriting guidelines and practices to ensure they are not unlawfully discriminating against applicants. On June 11, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that people who are at a significant risk of acquiring HIV take PrEP. Under Federal guidelines, the recommendation means that private insurance companies will have to cover PrEP without cost-sharing for those individuals by 2021. Studies have shown that currently
only 17 percent of those eligible for daily PrEP actually take it. Meanwhile, California Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democratic candidate for president, introduced the PrEP Access and Coverage Act, legislation that would guarantee insurance coverage for PrEP and create a grant program to fund uninsured patients’ access to the medication. Harris’ legislation goes further than the Preventive Services Task Force recommendation by requiring that all private and public insurance plans— including Medicare and Medicaid—cover access to PrEP without a copay, not only for the drug itself but also all associated doctors visits, tests, and monitoring recommended by the Public Health Service. The California Insurance Department’s spokesperson said that department staff will continue to review insurer compliance with the law and noted that individuals who believe they were or are subject to discriminatory underwriting practices can contact the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357 for assistance.
Two gay Deputy DAs challenging Jackie Lacey San Francisco DA George Gascon is being recruited, too By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Roughly one year from now a very consequential election will take place in Los Angeles and it’s possible no one will show up. On June 2, 2020, residents of LA County will re-elect incumbent Jackie Lacey as district attorney or select one of two gay Deputy DAs, or perhaps former LAPD officer George Gascon, the current district attorney in San Francisco, who is being recruited by SoCal liberals aghast at the levels of mass incarceration and Lacey’s pursuit of the death penalty despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions.
Gascon has been visiting with prison reform groups, such as Black Lives Matter, which weekly calls for Lacey’s removal. Patrisse Cullors, the out co-founder of Black Lives Matter and California director of the Real Justice political action committee wrote an op-ed for The Times in which she called the upcoming election “the single most important D.A. race in the country.” But Lacey has already locked up many of the most prized establishment endorsements, including LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and out Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. In 2012, Lacey became the first woman and first African American DA in LA County, thanks to being Republican DA Steve Cooley’s right hand. Cooley had systematically rendered invisible many of the progressive programs initiated by Democratic DA, Gil Garcetti, including
eroding the highly regarded Hate Crimes Unit under out Deputy DA Carla Arranaga, who worked closely with impacted minority communities each time a member was targeted by hate. Interestingly, one of Lacey’s challengers is Richard Ceballos, a 29-year veteran of the of DA’s office who is now assigned to the Organized Crime Division and Hate Crimes Unit. According to his website, he “has been awarded special recognition for his prosecutorial work from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Inspector General’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Defense.” If elected, Ceballos would be the first Latino and the first LGBTQ DA in LA County history. Ceballos says he’s running because “we need new energetic leadership and someone with a progressive vision for the future. We need a voice who will challenge the ‘lock
them up and throw away the key’ culture of our criminal justice system and embrace the conversations and values behind the current reform movement. I believe that I am that voice.” Also running is Joseph Iniguez, 33, who joined the DA’s office in 2015 and is currently prosecuting cases out of the Alhambra courthouse. “It’s time we ask ourselves some basic questions. Why are people of color arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated more than any other population in L.A. County?” Iniguez asked in a video last April. “Why do we continue to treat addiction as a crime, instead of a disease?” Had California not changed its election primary from June to March to be part of Super Tuesday, the DA’s election might have been more visible.
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06 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
From the Black Cat to Sacramento LGBT progress from pre-Stonewall rebellion to staffing the governor By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org The 2018 elections will be largely remembered as the midterms that won back the US House of Representatives for the Democrats, reinstating San Francisco queen Nancy Pelosi as Speaker to lead the resistance against Donald Trump. In California, there was little drama in Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory over Republican John Cox to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown. But largely overlooked was how Newsom immediately appointed LGBT people to positions of power in his new administration. The contrast was sharp. When the Los Angeles Blade asked how many LGBT people served in the Brown administration, the press office said they did not keep data on LGBT staffers. Newsom, however, recognized the significance of visible diverse representation in the nation’s most populous state. Born five months after the gay protests against police raids at the Black Cat Tavern in Silver Lake in 1967, Newsom grasps the historical arc from gays being despised by society to his being despised by many in the Democratic Party when, as mayor of San Francisco in 2004, he issued marriage licenses to same sex couples -- to today, when both he as governor and his LGBT staff symbolize California’s commitment to progressive values. “Progress is built on the shoulders of others,” Newsom tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s people’s conviction. Their courage and their actions created this history. [LGBT] people took that horrific experience and rather than giving up, rather than rolling over – they stepped up and they leaned in and they demanded something more. It’s a reminder that things happen only when people make them happen and that even in the ashes of violence and riots, that great things can still emerge from that darkness.” Newsom believes in the old North Star adage that “if you believe in something, damn the critics.” Just do the right thing, including giving LGBT people a shot at power.
Left to right: Daniel Zingale; Justin Knighten; Vito Imbasciani; Joey Freeman; Jesse Melgar; Nathan Click; Matthew Tabarangao; JP Petrucione; Gavin Newsom; Julie Li; John Spangler; Ana Matosantos; Kelly Huston; Kelli Evans; Kris Perry. Photo courtesy Newsom’s office
“Not only am I proud to have LGBTQ members of my staff, but I’m more proud of this: [they are] in some of the most powerful positions in government,” Newsom says. “This is not just having staffers at low levels. Ana Matosantos is day-to-day running this administration. Daniel Zingale and the incredible work he does organizing our communications and framing the debate here in Sacramento. I could go down a list. “I’m just so proud. I mean my legal team— some of the best and the brightest in the country and they happen to be members of the LGBTQ community,” he continues. “And each one of them comes with an extraordinary story of their own heroism and their own lives, their own journey and their own struggles, their own identity. JP – a transgender member of our staff who worked for me in the mayor’s office and is now working here in the Governor’s Office.” And then the governor gets personal. “It enriches not only the administration and the state—but it’s been enriching to me, personally, because their journey – their life story is so connected to Stonewall, to the Black Cat, to the history of the movement. We’re all here because of those previous
Gov. Gavin Newsom with LGBT Legislative Caucus members Assemblymember Evan Low, Sen. Scott Wiener, Assemblymembers Susan Eggman and Todd Gloria. Photo courtesy Newsom’s office
contributions. And they’re countless, but obviously those are two among the most notable. But beyond that, it’s a compliment to so many people that have done so much and given so much to this movement that
we’re all here,” Newsom says. “We’ve got an All Star team up here. I’m really blessed. It’s really great.” Here are a few LGBT members of Newsom’s “All Star” team.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 28, 2019 • 07
Photos courtesy Gov. Newsom’s office
Director of Digital Media, Communications
What do the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions mean to you and why should we care anymore? This is a very scary moment to be transgender. They’re trying to ban trans soldiers. The word itself has been banned. Trans people are being turned into a wedge issue, a “thing’ to be banned or erased. I can’t decide if I’m being paranoid but don’t we have to wonder “what’s next?” The Black Cat, Stonewall, and I’d add Compton’s Cafeteria, remind us that we queers are powerful. And that when we stand up to power, we are perfectly capable, thank you, of making damn sure we’re not erased. Of all the employment opportunities open to LGBT people today, why did you choose government/public service? When you work in government, especially when you work for a guy like Gavin Newsom,
you have the opportunity to make history by making substantive change happen especially for queers - like in 2004 with gay marriage or this past March with the moratorium on the death penalty. How old are you? Where do you live? What’s your relationship status? I’m 46. Born and raised in San Francisco, where I also spent my early queer years hanging out at the Lexington Club, Dolores Park, Hot Pants, the Cat Club and, a few places in between, transitioning from a baby dyke to a trans-masculine queerdo. I moved up to Portland eight years ago to live the urban country life and rescue Chihuahuas. I love pickling and gardening – I’m particularly proud of my peonies. Is there something important you want to convey? Don’t give up. Resist. Fight. Have hope. I’m telling myself this as much as anything.
Chief Deputy Legislative Affairs Secretary for Policy What do the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions mean to you and why should we care anymore? For me, the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions represent the people whose shoulders I stand on, who afforded me the opportunity to live my life out loud and to be uniquely me. Growing up in a tight-knit Jewish community and attending Jewish day schools through high school, I learned about the various points in history when the Jewish community rallied to combat persecution and injustice. It was a narrative that helped inspire my passion for public service, and shaped my identity – but I was leaving another core part of my identity in the dark. I came out just shy of a year and a half ago – and while I knew about the struggle for LGBTQ rights – it takes on greater personal importance today. Each of us has our own journey, and while coming out was difficult, it pales in comparison to the members of the LGBTQ community who quite literally gave their lives in pursuit of equality. I am here because of them. Of all the employment opportunities open to LGBT people today, why did you choose government/public service? Since I was akid, I’ve been drawn to government and public service. I credit my family and teachers who instilled in me the importance of giving back. I credit my late grandfather who shared his love of Los Angeles with me, a passion that I translated into making my city an even better place. But upon reflection, I also credit something deeper. One of the challenges – and gifts – of
being gay is having to wrestle with something so big internally and externally – feeling different in a world where being gay is not the norm. I often think about how it must not be dissimilar from the experiences of many Jews around the world. It took me a long time but I finally decided to accept that I do in fact feel different – and I’m grateful for it because I believe strongly that it’s why I empathize with people, why I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and why I’ve chosen the work I do. How old are you? Where do you live? What’s your relationship status? I am 28 years old and moved to Sacramento six months ago to work for Gov. Newsom. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, which I call home, and have also lived in Berkeley and San Francisco. I am happily in a relationship – another one of the gifts of having come out! Is there something important you want to convey? I’ve worked for Gov. Newsom for five years – in his capacities as lieutenant governor, candidate for governor, and now governor. It’s been such a privilege to work for a bold leader who fights every day to achieve a California for all, and for someone who has been a part of my own personal journey. I got to march in the San Francisco Pride Parade while closeted with the man who played such a pivotal role in the fight for marriage equality – and who made me feel hopeful, even though I was not yet ready to tell others about my identity. Then I got to come out to this individual who expressed how happy he was for me. Last year, I got to march with him yet again, this time as an openly gay man. And now I get to go to work every day with an incredible team he built, a team where my identity is not only valued, but celebrated.
08 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Photos courtesy Gov. Newsom’s office
Deputy Legal Criminal Justice
What do the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions mean to you and why should we care anymore? Not only were they critical ﬂash points in the march towards freedom and equality for LGBTQ people, they are important reminders of how important visibility and speaking out against injustice are. These lessons are just as vital today as they were 50 years ago — whether we’re talking about the ﬁght for humane treatment for immigrant families, for young black and brown men, or for transgender people. Of all the employment opportunities open to LGBT people today, why did you choose government/public service? I became a lawyer to protect and advance civil rights and liberties. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to do so while working in non-proﬁts, the private sector, and government. It is an incredible privilege to be part of harnessing the power and
authority of government to try and make the California dream a reality for everyone. This is what Gov. Newsom’s vision of a “California For All” is really all about. How old are you? Where do you live? What’s your relationship status? I live in Oakland and am married to my college sweetheart, Terri Shaw. We have a 16-year-old daughter, Kaden, who will be a high school junior in the fall. She bakes, plays lots of different sports and is a math and science whiz. All talents that she deﬁnitely did NOT inherit from me. We have two dogs — a sweet old black lab named Jupiter (aka Joop Doggy Dog) and a clownish little terrier named Rocket. In my spare time, I love cooking, watching horror movies and whiskey tasting. Is there something important you want to convey? Deep appreciation to my grandmother who raised me and to all those who came before us who made it possible for a queer black girl from the projects to be where I am today.
Senior Adviser Communications
What do the Black Cat and Stonewall rebellions mean to you and why should we care anymore? An example of how these pivotal rebellions of our past should inform our present is in the current debate regarding police use of force. The queer community knows how fundamental it is to have conﬁdence that law enforcement is there to protect and respect our safety and our lives without bias. All Californians deserve the same. Of all the employment opportunities open to LGBT people today, why did you choose government/public service? I chose public service at a time when public policies, practices and laws had to change in order for queer Americans and those living with HIV to avoid being criminalized, marginalized and denied the most basic of rights. I returned to public service this year for the privilege of working with a governor whose early leadership around marriage equality demonstrated he is willing to take bold and risky action when people’s dignity and human rights are at stake.
How old are you? Where do you live? What’s your relationship status? I’m 59 years old. I was born and raised in Sacramento where I live now with my partner, our two children, two cats and a German Shepherd named Sparky. When I was coming of age — and coming out — in 1980, the message was clear. If you were open and honest about being queer, many careers would be off limits to you, like high proﬁle public service, military service or a career in law enforcement. You would never have a lasting relationship. And you would certainly not be allowed to experience parenting. Contrary to all those negative messages, I’ve had a career in public service and raised two kids within a 39-year relationship with a peace officer. So I know from my own life experience how together we can overcome bigotry and false assumptions about our limits. That applies to our brothers and sisters with disabilities and to those targeted by racial and gender bias, religious discrimination, transphobia, antiimmigrant scapegoating and other forms of hate. Don’t believe the hateful hype. Is there something important you want to convey? Please see #3 above.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 28, 2019 • 09
‘Conversion therapy’ resolution passes California Assembly ACR 99 has evangelical support By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com Out Assemblymember Evan Low is trying something different. He wants to not only make law but also eradicate the harmful anti-LGBT stigma at the core of so-called “conversion therapy” through persuasion. On June 24, at the end of Pride Month and just days before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, he took a firm step toward that goal when his ACR 99 passed the California Assembly on a voice vote, with support from moderate Republican Chad Mayes, son of a pastor and graduate of Liberty University. The non-binding resolution calls on all Californians, especially religious leaders and educators, to recognize the harm done to LGBT individuals who are forced to undergo the dangerous and disavowed practice of “conversion therapy” to try to change their immutable sexual orientation and gender identity into heterosexual. But this is not the outcome LGBT politicos expected after he pulled a bill last year. Low’s AB 2943 would have expanded the current California ban on “conversion therapy” by declaring it a fraudulent practice under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act and extending certain consumer protections to individuals harmed by efforts to “change” or “repair” their sexual orientation or gender identity. AB 2943 built on the LGBT youth protection bill authored by then State Sen. Ted Lieu to prevent state-licensed therapists from practicing “psychological child abuse” on minors under 18. Then Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in Sept. 2012, telling the San Francisco Chronicle: “This bill bans non-scientific ‘therapies’ that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” Lieu’s bill became a national model with 18 states following with similar legislation. Low’s AB 2943 passed both chambers
Out Assemblymember Evan Low at Judiciary Committee hearing Photo courtesy Low’s office
and was expected to be signed into law by Brown, despite a swarm of controversy. In fact, the conservative Federalist.com called fact-checking website Snopes a “sneaky liar” after Snopes declared “False” some religious claims that the bill would make the sale of Bibles illegal. But that hasn’t stopped conservative media from spreading the inaccuracies. Many were shocked when Low pulled the bill. But in building support for AB 2943, he saw something else happening. Traditionally anti-LGBT religious told him that while they still considered homosexuality to be a sin, they did not agree with “reparative therapy.” “I was heartened by the conversations,” Low told the Los Angeles Blade last September. “A number of religious leaders denounced conversion therapy and recognized how harmful the practice is while acknowledging it has been discredited by the medical and psychological communities. I left those productive conversations feeling hopeful.”
After Low took a year to listen and dialogue, he introduced ACR-99. “We have a long road in the fight to remove LGBTQ stigma and discrimination from our culture,” he said. “While we live in one of the most politically divided times in living memory, ACR 99 demonstrates that it is possible for two seemingly divergent, but truly overlapping, communities to work together to address a controversial subject. We will continue to work together to build bridges and strengthen alliances in our fight against the harmful practice of conversion therapy.” Some of his most unlikely support came from religious educators who were keenly aware of the depression and suicidal thinking of LGBT students. “Believing that every person is created in the image of God, we support this call to equitable treatment of all people. We are glad to affirm your desire to see people as they are, protecting their autonomy, dignity, and to treat them with the respect that is due them
as God’s creation. The call to compassion and caring treatment is consistent with our deep desire to reflect Christ in all we do,” Kevin Mannoia, Chaplain at Azusa Pacific University and former President of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in a press release after the resolution passed the Judiciary Committee. Low says meeting with evangelical leaders was like “going into the lion’s den.” But then he had an epiphany, finding “such a different contrast to what I had anticipated the reception would be when I met with them,” especially the expected hate. As he was trying to build a coalition of support for his bill, Low established “a number of genuine warm relationships” with some evangelicals who were also interested in finding a common ground. “So that’s why I felt that, okay, we’re talking about conversion therapy, but this is much broader,” Low says. “The symbolism and the rhetoric and the narrative behind this is transformational. In other words, what can we now do from this resolution in which we have put ourselves on the front lines of this, and what can be build off of this? So yes, we will hope to then figure out what we can then codify and change into law with respect to strengthening our laws against conversion therapy.” After that, Low says the coalition will look at “other things that we can do to help build bridges with the religious community on a number of things affecting our LGBT community.” The Williams Institute at UCLA updated their January 2018 report on “conversion therapy” estimates noting that 698,000 LGBTQ adults (ages 18-59) in the United States were subjected to “conversion therapy,” of which 350,000 LGBTQ adults reporting that they were subjected to the practice as adolescents. The American Psychological Association previously released a finding stating that efforts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are associated with poor mental health and tend to increase the risk of suicide, especially in LGBTQ youth. ACR 99 now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee and then to the full Senate.
10 • JUNE 21, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
HRC taps Alphonso David as next president First person of color to lead nation’s largest LGBT group By CHRIS JOHNSON After a nearly seven-month search, the Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday its next president will be Alphonso David — marking the first time a person of color will lead the nation’s largest LGBT organization. David, a 48-year-old gay black man with an extensive career in New York as a civil rights lawyer, legal adviser and law professor, was named after the board of directors launched an extensive search to replace Chad Griffin, who announced in November he’d leave the organization. David is set to start in August. “I believe that together, we can harness the strength that’s inherent in our differences, to stand together in the face of fear and division,” David said in a statement. “And that’s exactly what the Human Rights Campaign was built for.” “If we want to win full equality, that’s going to require us to come together, to dig deep, to be resilient, to embrace our differences, to tenaciously defend the most vulnerable among us, to fight with every ounce of determination we have,” David continued. “I promise you this, I will fight for each and every one of us.” In a Human Rights Campaign video, David talks about his past as a U.S.-born individual who spent his youth in Liberia, where he enjoyed roller skating, before violent political turmoil shook up his life. (David’s uncle, who served as Liberia’s president, was assassinated.) At age 14, David escaped Liberia with his family for a new life in Baltimore. The transition at the Human Rights Campaign takes places as the 2020 presidential election heats up. David will likely lead efforts in supporting the Democratic nominee to defeat President Trump, who’s built a substantial anti-LGBT record over the course of his administration. David will be the seventh president of the Human Rights Campaign — which has annual revenue of about $45.6 million — and he takes the reins as the organization approaches its 40th anniversary. John Ruffier, board chair of the Human
Alphonso David has been named the next president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Rights Campaign, said in a statement David is the right person to lead the organization at this time. “As we approach the Human Rights Campaign’s 40th year and the most important election cycle of our lives in 2020, HRC has never been stronger or better positioned to lead,” Ruffier said. Previously, David was chief counsel and legal adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, overseeing significant legal and policy deliberations affecting New York State. Before that time, David served in the governor’s cabinet as the deputy secretary and counsel for civil rights, the first position of its kind in New York. Under David’s counsel, Cuomo signed administrative orders protecting transgender rights and barring widely discredited conversion therapy for youth, as well as bills passed by a new legislature with Democratic control enacting the practices into law. Just recently, David joined Cuomo
in announcing the launch of the New York State World Pride Welcome Center in New York City. Prior to working in the public sector, David was a staff attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense & Educational Fund and a litigation associate at the law firm Blank Rome LLP. David, however, began his legal career as a judicial clerk to the late U.S. District Judge Scott Green, a Nixon appointee, in Pennsylvania. At Lambda Legal, David worked on New York’s first marriage equality lawsuit. When the route to achieve marriage equality in the courts in New York State ultimately proved unsuccessful, David worked as deputy secretary and counsel for civil rights to win marriage equality through legislation in 2011. In the past decade, David has worked as a law professor at Fordham University Law School and is currently at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Cuomo commended David in a statement and wished him luck in his new role, saying he was essential in “helping to enact real change and increasing rights for all residents of this great state.” The most recent publicly available tax forms from the Human Rights Campaign reveal Griffin in fiscal year 2017 earned $481,375 in reportable income and $20,893 in compensation in related organizations, for a total of $502,268. (The form for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation lists Griffin’s income as $0.) The Human Rights Campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the next president will earn the same amount Griffin made upon his departure from the organization. But an HRC spokesperson confirmed Alphonso would be president of both and the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the non-profit 501(c)(3) arm of the organization.
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12 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Stonewall’s lessons for today Selective use of militant tactics helped the movement to grow By DAVID CARTER At the time of this significant anniversary it is natural to ask what lessons we can take from the Stonewall Uprising for our time. There is also a natural tendency to hesitate to answer because the Uprising was not only militant but violent, and violence cannot be a usual response to political and social problems in a democracy. Of course one could focus on the Uprising’s broadest lesson, the value of LGBT people standing up for ourselves, but that is so broad that it is not very helpful in terms of specifics. So what lessons can we draw from this watershed event that are practical and relevant today? As a historian, I feel that the meanings of Stonewall can be best understood if we look at the Uprising in the broadest context: Why is Stonewall historic and how did the Uprising change the movement? Stonewall would be at best a footnote to history if it had not inspired a new wave of the gay movement, one that spread rapidly and created a mass movement. I say this since it was the creation of a mass movement by the new phase of the movement that made most of the gains of the last 50 years possible. I feel that the main reason the new movement—the gay liberation movement— spread is that it was militant, unapologetic, and it was very creative at getting in the press in a way that made the movement highly attractive. For example, as a teenager in high school in Jesup, Ga., I heard about the zaps executed by New York’s Gay Activists Alliance, or GAA. When the city’s marriage bureau said that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, GAA’s members occupied the marriage bureau, chained themselves to the bureau’s desks, and answered the phones by saying that the bureau was only giving out licenses on that day to homosexuals, and then asked,
“Are you a homosexual?” When Harper’s published a vicious article attacking gay people and refused to print a response written by gay people, GAA occupied their offices but brought along doughnuts and coffee. The activists approached Harper’s employees saying, “I’m a homosexual. Would you like a doughnut?” And thus the selective use of militant tactics such as carefully and intelligently planned zaps, boycotts, and civil disobedience when ordinary lobbying has not worked has helped the movement to grow while protecting our community and the rights we have won. For example, when Anita Bryant and her imitators succeeded in overturning laws that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gay people and our supporters boycotted orange juice. Bryant subsequently lost her job as the spokeswoman for the orange juice industry. When the federal government did not respond to the AIDS crisis, ACT UP acted up, taking over the FDA headquarters, blocking traffic around Wall Street during rush hour, and conducting die-ins. To awaken the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to the effects of their classification of us as mentally ill, gay activists stormed the convocation during their 1971 national conference. Frank Kameny seized the microphone and declared, “Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate. Psychiatry has waged a relentless war of extermination against us. You may take this as a declaration of war against you.” Before 1973 came to an end, after an intense lobbying campaign, the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. Two suggestions for applying the lessons of the Uprising to our time: 1. A suggestion for our community on its issues. Donald Trump has been attacking our community. His attacks on us are too numerous to list here, but to mention a few, he wants to take away our right to marry, he has banned trans people from serving in the military, and has revoked the citizenship of the children of gay couples. It would be appropriate to see a
coordinated campaign to oppose all these actions by Trump using not only traditional lobbying and electoral methods, but also by working to gum up the Trump administration. Suppose LGBT people organized a phone-in time on the first day of each month to tie up all of the White House’s phone lines during lunch hour until Trump ended his ban on trans people serving in the military, for example? If Trump does not end the ban, the time could later be expanded to two days a month. And so forth. I suggest these kinds of direct action tactics because I have been frustrated at the lack of a nationwide campaign that anyone can participate in to express his or her opposition to Trumpism. When I was young, for example, it meant a great deal to me to participate in the Moratorium events organized to oppose the war in Vietnam. Could a number of LGBT state and national organizations come together and forget about their disagreements about how to oppose Trump, and instead focus on the goals they agree upon. With agreed upon goals, they could then determine what tactics — actions that any citizen could do on her or his own — could work toward meeting those goals. They could look at ACT UP and GAA, for example, for inspiration. Want to help block traffic this Friday? Want to tie up Senate Republican phone lines this coming Monday? 2. A suggestion for all Americans about our country’s future. Could national organizations of all stripes that oppose Trump’s policies meet and put aside their differences and focus instead on what they can agree upon? More specifically, could they focus on tactics for either changing Trump’s policies or removing Trump from office? I think that if the American people, the majority of whom disapprove of Trump, had a menu of actions they could take against the Trump administration that anyone could do, a great many would act. One reason I believe this is that it boosts one’s morale to feel that one is acting in concert with others toward a common goal. Also, such a broad campaign would garner significant media attention, which would
then reach and energize more of Trump’s opponents. For example, an anti-Trump coalition could announce a campaign that, on the first Monday of every month, citizens who oppose Trump would not spend any discretionary funds: no going to see a movie or buying oneself a new tie or a pair of earrings or a book on that day. Instead the money one would have spent for pleasure would be donated to the anti-Trump coalition. Or the coalition could suggest that people who drive tie up traffic by driving slowly on the way to work on the first Tuesday of each month. And what if Trump doesn’t change the policies the coalition is demanding that he change? The traffic slow down could be moved to Friday to have more impact. Of these two suggestions, I recommend the second one. I say this because I believe with many others that the Trump presidency constitutes an existential crisis for our republic. Moreover, the LGBT civil rights movement is strong enough now that we can afford to think beyond our own immediate needs. I would love for us to call for all antiTrump organizations to send a delegate to a national meeting with each delegate being empowered to vote. I envision such a national meeting’s purpose as being to set a common agenda with common tactics designed to remove Trump from the Oval Office: to draw up a list of grievances and a declaration about how to address those grievances through a common plan of action. Wait, isn’t this rather like the way in which our country was founded? Yes, it is. And I believe that it is time for revolutionary action to oppose the counter-revolution led by Trump. (David Carter and the Los Angeles Blade give universal permission to copy and reprint this editorial as long as Donald Trump occupies the Oval Office.)
David Carter is author of ‘Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution.’
PRIDE STRONG From Stonewall to the steps of the Supreme Court, a half-century of progress toward LGBT equality should be celebrated â€” and held up as inspiration for generations to come. AARP salutes those who have fought and continue to fight the battle for a bias-free future and is proud to stand with the LGBT community while creating a new vision for aging â€” one complete with diverse stories and innovative ways for everyone to pursue their passions, openly and proudly. Learn more at aarp.org/pride
14 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
VOLUME 03 ISSUE 26
The invention of Stonewall commemoration N.Y.’s first Pride parade depended on Philly’s Annual Reminder By RICK VALELLY & MALCOLM LAZIN Fifty years ago this month, the Stonewall Rebellion happened. Forty-nine years ago, the first commemoration of the Rebellion occurred in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. That commemoration changed how we all think about the role of defiance and fraternity in the gay struggle. Stonewall was hardly the first episode of gay resistance against police abuse. It became, however, the riot that everyone remembers. The June 28, 1970 marches, the annual Pride parades that they spawned, and the expansion of the gay revolution that they helped to launch are why the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion is celebrated. But the commemoration that today has a such taken-for-granted aspect — after all, it happens like clockwork every year all over the world — in fact depended on two things that very few of us remember today. The first was prior commemoration that had a patriotic and Americanist cast to it. The second was an inventive repurposing of that prior commemoration to instead emphasize identity and resistance. The 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade built on an event called the Annual Reminder, held at Independence Hall each July 4th from 1965 to 1969. By leading the Annual Reminder at Independence Hall, Frank Kameny of Washington, Barbara Gittings of Philadelphia, and Craig Rodwell
of New York linked the nascent gay rights movement to the promise of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution – and thus to earlier struggles for equality and freedom. Their annual action in front of Independence Hall reminded passersby that America’s charters included gay women and men. The Annual Reminder indeed was the single largest and recurring gay and lesbian protest in American history and the first to call for equality. It grew from 40 in 1965 to 150 in 1969, which was held five days after Stonewall. That kind of turnout was a big deal. In the mid-1960s there were no more than a few hundred gay activists nationwide. Of the three – Kameny, Gittings, and Rodwell – it was Rodwell who witnessed the Stonewall Rebellion. He owned the Oscar Wilde Bookstore, the nation’s first gay bookstore, located in Greenwich Village. What he saw at Stonewall gave him the idea to dramatically scale up the Annual Reminder into a new and different form of collective action, a parade emphasizing liberation. On the evening of June 26, 1969, the people at the Stonewall Inn hardly knew that they would start a liberation movement. A Mafia-owned property, the Stonewall Inn was typically populated by gay men, queens, transvestites, and homeless teens. But that night’s spontaneous resistance to police abuse, followed by three days of disruption, built deep bonds between the closeted respectable and the marginalized, and an ethic of previously unknown fearlessness. Taking a train back to New York from the July 4, 1969 Annual Reminder, Rodwell decided to enlist the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations
(ERCHO), a sponsor of the Annual Reminder. Over the next few months he also worked on his plan with the recently formed Gay Liberation Front. At a November conference of ERCHO, he put forward his idea to suspend the Annual Reminder and to organize in its place a Stonewall march. With the support of Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, ERCHO pitched in for the 1970 Stonewall remembrance. Their mutual gamble paid off; more than 2,000 people marched in Manhattan, from Greenwich Village up to Central Park. Among them were Barbara Gittings, whose partner Kay Lahusen, a talented and prolific photographer, recorded the demonstration. So was Frank Kameny, holding a sign that read “Gay is Good,” a slogan adopted at a Chicago conference in 1968. The Pride Parade was born. It grew into an international phenomenon. Without the Pride Parade, we would not commemorate Stonewall. But the first New York parade depended, more than we have recognized, on the Annual Reminder. Critically, the leaders of that little-known Philadelphia venture were open to change and innovation. The early years of the gay revolution required nothing less if it was to grow – and they knew that. As we mark Stonewall at 50 we should also honor the political entrepreneurship that led to one of the world’s great recurring commemorations.
Rick Valelly is professor of political science at Swarthmore College. Malcolm Lazin is executive director of LGBT History Month.
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16 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Stonewall ignited gay liberation And even more LGBT history was made in 1970 By KAREN OCAMB email@example.com
Morris Kight, center, in first CSW Pride parade with Rev. Troy Perry in black behind him. Photo courtesy Brian Traynor and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, via ‘Making Gay History’
The 1960s was the era of creative transformation as young people took up John F. Kennedy’s call to service and television changed life from black and white to vivid color. By May 18, 1969 Apollo 10 transmitted the first color images of the planet Earth as seen from space and suddenly “wonder” was no longer a fanciful promise offered by Walt Disney. It was an era of peace, love, happiness and dreams that a shared humanity would eradicate poverty, racism, sexism, and entrenched inequality. But it was also the era in which the government got caught lying about the war in Vietnam, about thousands of young men sent to ignoble and senseless deaths. Revolution was on the lips of thousands of Parisian students, Maoists in China and fans of the Beatles’ “White Album” in 1968. Changing the world was not a theory, a desire, but an action. And action was fraught with danger. Two of the most prominent progressive heroes expected to lead that non-violent revolution and restore faith in America – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy – were assassinated. Eyes on the prize were refocused, turning darkly inward as protests for justice and equality transformed into liberation movements with sharper edges and a pall of violence. No one thought limp-wristed sissies who couldn’t throw a softball would even know how to throw a punch. But after Stonewall in June 1969, police and tabloid reporters in cities around the country speculated about all the pent up rage boiling behind those secret closet doors. It was clear to young New Yorkers that Stonewall was not a one-anddone reaction to a police raid. By November, some activists had organized into the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Alliance and NYU’s Student Homophile League proposed an annual commemorative demonstration in New York on the last Saturday in June called CHRISTOPHER STREET LIBERATION DAY. The activists contacted gay activists in other cities to share their idea. Being gay was no longer an arbitrary individual behavior; a chosen community was being born. Meanwhile in Hollywood, anti-war activist/ organizer Morris Kight also decided to start a Gay Liberation Front—LA was one of five cities launch GLFs in the aftermath of Stonewall. Kight’s GLF provided direct services to gays and lesbians, especially homeless youth, and pro bono legal advice for those being discharged from the military, STD shots, or busted for being gay. Kight also set up rap groups to develop self-esteem through shared
story-telling akin to AA shares and feminist consciousness raising. In November 1969, Kight took out a small ad in the leftist L.A. Free Press saying he wanted to hold a homosexual organizing meeting. He later told Eric Markus of Making Gay History that Stonewall “had not one trace of an influence upon my work.” In fact, Kight said, “I had a number of telephone calls from payphones by Christopher Park, by Sheridan Square, while the Stonewall rebellion was going on, and since I was in the midst of a whole variety of rebellions, since I was up to my neck in civil disobedience, since I was up to my neck in television and radio and newspapers, I was up to my neck in organizing…against the war in Vietnam, and against poverty, and against racism, and against classism, and against redlining. I was involved in super-radical activities, and so I absorbed it as just one more interesting activity, except it was us instead of them. And that was the only difference, uh, that came in my mind, I said, “Well, fine, thank you for calling, that’s very interesting, I’m happy it’s happening.” Uh, the Stonewall, uh, rebellion did not influence my founding the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles.” But it may well have influenced those who joined him, which in turn influenced Kight’s response. “The country was ripe with discontent and rebellion, people were already mobilized and Kight seized the momentum, as he liked to put it, to ‘free my people.’ When Morris Kight shifted his thinking and refocused his energy, he made sure that it created a rippling effect. He tapped organizational muscle, skills, and funds from the Peace Movement, Black Power, Feminism, and the LA Mission,” writes Mary Ann Cherry in her upcoming biography MORRIS KIGHT: Humanist, Liberationist, Fantabulist A Story of Gay Rights and Gay Wrongs due out in April 2020 from Process Media. Among those who joined GLF was a young activist named Don Kilhefner, with whom Kight would disrupt an American Psychiatric Association Conference and later found the Los Angeles Gay Community Services Center. Their first headquarters in a rented old Victorian on Wilshire Boulevard stopped traffic with residents and tourists alike shocked to see such an open display of the word “Gay.” “After Stonewall, we were on fire. Something was unleashed in us. After all those decades of being told who we are, we began to define ourselves and found ourselves to be good, decent people,” Kilhefner told filmmakers Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer for their forthcoming documentary Cured. “So part of our work was not only fighting back against the
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 28, 2019 • 17
shrinks, but also working with gay people to undo the harm that had been done to us. And it felt like ripples went out across the country. In every major city, something happened. In San Francisco and Chicago, in Atlanta, in New York, in Boston, something happened, and in each town it was different depending on what the circumstances were, who was meeting, and what was going on there — but we were everywhere.” In LA, Kight wanted to ensure that GLF meetings were radical, democratic, and based in the spirit of non-violence, no matter how much rage spilled out at rap meetings tackling the root cause of gay oppression—lack of self-acceptance. That pain also created bitchy attacks on one another, which Kight called “oppression sickness.” But Kight was a keen organizer. “Kight saw the big picture of gay rights as building-up one person at a time, and he didn’t let anyone leave those meetings without being affected in some positive way or learning something,” Cherry writes. “Often described as a ‘warm and encouraging leader’ and ‘father figure’ in the Gay Liberation Front, Kight did a private appraisal of every able body that expressed interest in the movement and then found a specific function for each person to contribute to their liberation. He gave every young person at these meetings a direction or an assignment, to give them a new purpose.” Cherry cites an anonymous GLF paper that expresses the point. “Look out straights, here comes the Gay Liberation Front… Understand this--that the worst part of being a homosexual is having to keep it secret. Not the occasional murders by police or teenage queer-baiters, not the loss of jobs or the expulsion from schools or dishonorable discharges--but the daily knowledge that what you are is so awful that it cannot be revealed. The violence against us is sporadic. Most of us are not affected. But the internal violence of being made to carry-or choosing to carry--the load of your straight society’s unconscious guilt--this is what tears us apart, what makes us want to stand up in the offices, in the factories and the schools and shout out our true identities.” To press the point, get media attention and give GLFers an action to take, Kight planned zaps, some of which were potentially dangerous, such as the protest against Barney’s Beanery demanding the removal of their “Fagots Stay Out” sign Another zap was a theatrical stunt declaring March 1,1970 “Lavender Sunday” during which gays protested the church of their choice then presented the church with a reparations bill for $90 billion for all the harm done to gays over the years. The reaction was mixed.
Some said “God bless you!” and shouted “Gay Power!” while others screamed, “You will all burn in hell!” Mattachine Society member and gay journalist Jim Kepner attended GLF meetings, as did the Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church with whom Kight subsequently co-founded Christopher Street West and the first gay Pride parade. By the spring of 1970 as planning began, three gay men had died in police custody and countless police beatings received no justice or accountability. “It was outright dangerous to be openly gay much less part of gay liberation,” Cherry writes. Nonetheless, Kight, Perry, and homeless advocate Rev. Bob Humphries made plans for a parade, not a demonstration, down Hollywood Boulevard. The May 14, 1970 Parade Permit Application said the purpose of the parade was: “A joyous celebration of the total freedom of homosexuals in Los Angeles, with their families and friends, indicating that they are full citizens of this community and their rights to use the streets in the city of Los Angeles.” The permit was denied but they appealed, including an extraordinary bond the LAPD required for extra police in case a Stonewalllike gay riot broke out. On Friday June 26, California Superior Court Judge Richard Schauer ordered the Police Commissioner to issue the permit for a “Hollywood Blvd. homosexual-oriented parade without requiring a $1,500 cash bond.” It was the first official recognition of “gay” in California. Death threats against Kight intensified. “Someone telephoned in the morning [of the Pride parade] and said, ‘How would you like it if I came over and killed you today?’ And I told him, ‘No, I cannot do that today. I have a very big day ahead of me and I must attend a parade.’ And I hung up,” Kight told Cherry. It took courage to step off the corner of McCadden Place and Hollywood Boulevard that June 28—but 1800 people showed up with thousands more lining the streets to watch gays and lesbians holding hands and more creative participants. Two men walked sheep dogs with signs saying, “Not all of us walk poodles.” The Guerrilla Theatre showcased “vice cops chasing screaming fairies wearing paper wings.” And The Militant Gay Movement floated a blown-up super-sized Vaseline jar. The GLF marched behind Kight. “Los Angeles activists, by participating in a Stonewall commemoration the first year, played a crucial role in the survival of the Stonewall story,” the American Sociological Review reported in 2006. “The first commemoration of Stonewall was gay liberation’s biggest and most successful protest event.”
Gay Community Services Center with Executive Director Don Kilhefner, Vice President Morris Kight, Jim Kepner, June Herrle, President Martin Field, and John Platania, 1970. Photo courtesy ©Lee Mason/ONE Archives at the USC Libraries via ‘Making Gay History’
18 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Stonewall eyewitness clarifies a few misconceptions ‘It was time for society to decriminalize our lives’ By YULANI RODGERS
Retired college professor and author Karla Jay in 1971 and today. Photos courtesy Jay
Stonewall wasn’t bloody enough to be considered a true riot. That’s the contention of one activist who went the second night to see the brouhaha she’d heard about first hand. “I’d prefer to call it a rebellion or an uprising,” says scholar/ author Karla Jay. “A riot is more bloody with fighting in the street.” Jay was born Karla Jaye Berlin in Brooklyn to her parents Rhoda and Abraham Berlin in 1947. She was raised in a nonobservant, largely secular Jewish home and graduated from Barnard College in 1968 after participating in the student demonstrations at Columbia University. She’s a distinguished professor emerita at Pace University in New York where she taught English and directed the women’s and gender studies program from 1974-2009. She’s considered a pioneer in the field of lesbian and gay studies and is author of books such as “Out of the Closets: Voices of Gay Liberation,” “Tales of the Lavender Menace: A Memoir of Liberation” and won Best Lesbian Studies Book in 1996 for “Dyke Life: From Growing Up to Growing Old — A Celebration of the Lesbian Experience.” When asked to confirm her sexual orientation, Jay says she eschews labels. Jay became involved in her activism by participating in various movements such as the peace movement, the women’s movement and the movement against the war in Vietnam. Although her views aligned with the left, she ran into issues. “The problem with the groups on the left were they were pretty homophobic and the people who were involved, like myself ... had to basically compartmentalize our lives” Jay says. Their lack of inclusion pushed Jay into the forefront of fighting for the rights of LGBT people, which started with the Gay Liberation Front and the Stonewall riots. Contrary to popular belief, films documenting what took place at Stonewall with real footage are inaccurate according to Jay. “There is no footage of the Stonewall activity. So if you’ve seen any footage of the riots, that’s fake news,” she says. What is known about the events is that on June 28, 1969 the New York City police department went into the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village for what they expected to be a routine bar raid. Things went “wrong for the police” when several patrons at the bar refused to go quietly into the police wagon. “It was time for society to decriminalize our lives. That’s what happened at the Stonewall” Jay says. Before Stonewall, New York gays were routinely humiliated, scrutinized and arrested solely for being themselves, especially in the bars. “People from my generation who went to the bars, we knew about bar raids. They happened pretty frequently and there were bar raids before Stonewall and there were bar raids after Stonewall” Jay says. It was no surprise to Jay that an event like Stonewall happened. What made her know things were going to be different were the responsive actions of the Gay Liberation Front. “When I heard it was going to be a different kind of group, a more radical way ... not like the others had been, that’s when I knew it was going to be different,” she says. A common question that pops up when hearing about Stonewall is what started it all? Some say they threw the first brick while others say they threw a shot glass. According to
Jay, neither of these is what the historic moment was about. “It had to do with a routine police raid, police pay offs, anger at police pulling them aside, stripping them, arresting them for their clothing,” she says. Another important piece Jay points to is the “context of other historical acts of defiance.” At this point in American history, several other acts of defiance had happened across the country including the Montgomery bus boycotts, the March on Washington and the draft resistance. “Events do not happen in isolation,” Jay says. Although there is no doubt that a sense of change and rebellion were in the air during the 1960s, there are quite a few disputes about what happened at Stonewall. The first misconception is that the Stonewall events were violent. “When I went down there the second night, the door was still intact, the windows were still intact,” she says. However, she does not diminish its importance saying, “it was a rebellion.” Second, is that the death of beloved actress Judy Garland sparked the rebellion. “It did not happen because people were so upset about (it),” Jay says. The last major misconception Jay addressed, which may explain the questions people have about Stonewall, is how many people place themselves in the action. “I think people want to be recognized and we all want to see ourselves in the heroism of everyone that stood up,” she says. Regardless of the blurred lines, Stonewall’s significance can’t be overstated. It led to a new way that people presented themselves based solely in pride of who they were. This newfound sense of pride was soon followed by an organized movement called the Gay Liberation Front. Jay says it “changed everything ...we changed the culture.” It was comprised of a mixture of identities standing up for what they believed was right and decided to push for legal and social action. “It made it a wonderful kind of group for a new movement because the old movement didn’t really welcome all these people, particularly trans people. It was a new wave with new beginnings of radical resistance to oppression,” Jay says. This new wave of resistance left its mark on the world and since then has trickled down into the movements of today like Gays Against Guns and the ever-growing dyke and trans marches. “We are on the cusp of a new era of taking to the streets” that will eventually grow into a “new wave of radicalism” that will address the legal backlash the LGBTQ community is facing,” she says. In light of all the movements that are pushing for social change, some institutions have thought to address their involvement in harassment against LGBTQ people, including the New York City Police Department. According to the New York Times, the commissioner, James P. O’Neil, said, “The actions taken by the N.Y.P.D. were wrong — plain and simple.” Jay thought the apology was “a great first step.” “I want to know what are they doing to protect our community now in a different and meaningful way, particularly that trans population. Your apology means nothing without concrete action,” she says.
20 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Stonewall gives middle ﬁnger to oppressive heterosexist ‘normalcy’ Fight against the APA was just as profound By KAREN OCAMB firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny, and John Fryer as ‘Dr. H. Anonymous’ at the APA meeting in 1972. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
In the Trump era, the massive LGBT parades in New York City and elsewhere on June 28, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, commemorate more than an annual Pride event: they symbolize an LGBT people intent on joyfully countering white male-dominated heterosexism and the tentacles of hatred it inspires. This counter-culture moment in many ways mirrors the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and early 1970s where hope for full equality and the spirit of freedom and democracy clashed with oppressive hardcore conservatism. Stonewall was a line of demarcation between passive acceptance and courageous self-empowerment in a culture war that is not yet won. Violent raids on gay bars were routine until Stonewall, as the Washington Post reported in their review of Howard Mann’s book Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969. “The imposition of the notorious Production Code, for example, was accompanied by a crackdown on ‘pansy’ clubs in Los Angeles and elsewhere -- all part of a reaction to the liberalization of the raucously roaring ‘20s.” Outside of dark hideouts and clandestine hookups, LGBT people survived by hiding in the closet, passing as straight. Those who couldn’t hide or got caught were often scandalized, humiliated, beaten or killed without repercussions. Gays like Howard Eﬂand, a nurse who checked into the SRO Dover Hotel in downtown LA on March 9, 1969—roughly four months before Stonewall—hoping to meet someone in those otherwise freewheeling pre-bathhouse days of the 1960s. But the LAPD didn’t just bust the “faggot” on a trumped-up charge—they dragged him naked by the feet down a ﬂight of stairs where they savagely beat him in front of horriﬁed witnesses as he screamed for help. When he died shortly thereafter, they told his parents he suﬀered a heart attack. The Coroner called his death an “excusable homicide.” The LA Advocate found out and reported the murder, prompting the Rev. Troy Perry and gay troublemaker Morris Kight to organize a march and rally at the site. But no one was ever held accountable. Protest rallies had become common in the 1960s as more people joined civil rights marches and students protested the war in Vietnam. But the 1968 assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, along with the televised brutality of the Chicago police during the Democratic National Convention, led the country to
split asunder debating politics, ethics and morality. But Stonewall in 1969 and the less celebrated earlier LGBT rebellions against police in Los Angeles at the Cooper DoNuts in 1959, Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966, the Black Cat Tavern on Feb. 11, 1967 and at Lee Glaze’s The Patch in Aug. 1968 were signiﬁcant for another reason, as well. They symbolized an arbitrarily constructed minority ﬁghting back against the prevailing deﬁnition of homosexuality as an icky moral perversion worthy of degradation, condemnation—and as the Bible suggests, death. As a result of the acceptance and promotion of that longstanding belief by society, the state, religion and families, in 1952, the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder and a “sexual deviation” in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) during the height of the McCarthy era witch hunts. Many LGBT individuals internalized that hate-based deﬁnition of homosexuality as a sin, a crime and a sick perversion, leading to suicide, profound shame, secrecy, and agonizing isolation. “It took many years of vomiting up all the ﬁlth I’d been taught about myself, and halfbelieved, before I was able to walk in the earth as though I had a right to be here,” gay author James Baldwin once wrote. “Cures” for homosexuality included lobotomies, electroshock aversion therapy, and chemical castration among other tortures—as well as the perennial “conversion” or “reparative” therapy, still thriving in many states today. Not all LGBT people were cowed by the danger, however. Edythe Eyde (aka Lisa Ben) started the ﬁrst known lesbian newsletter Vice Versa in 1947 during oﬀ time as a secretary for RKO Pictures. Harry Hay and a few others founded the Mattachine Society and ONE Inc, which published ONE Magazine, in LA in the early 1950s when poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” was all the rage. San Francisco drag queen and Army vet Jose Sarria ran for political oﬃce in 1961, before founding the Imperial Court System. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon founded the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955, also publishing The Ladder for lesbians. But most of the early organizations were clandestine since being discovered to be a homosexual led to instant unemployment, loss of family and friends and a myriad of other personal horrors, including depression, anxiety and other emotional
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 28, 2019 • 21
and mental illnesses. Gradually activists such as Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings from the Washington DC chapter of the Mattachine Society publicly protested, promoting the argument that “Gay is Good.” “The problems of the homosexual stem from discrimination by the heterosexual majority and are much more likely to be employment problems than emotional problems,” Kameny wrote in a letter to Playboy in 1969 in response to a story about “therapeutic methods” for treating gay men, according to the New York Review of Books. Doctors “would be of greater service to the harassed homosexual minority,” Kameny concluded, “if they ceased to reinforce the negative value judgments of society and, instead, adopted a positive approach in which therapy for a homosexual would consist of instilling in him a sense of confident self-acceptance so he could say with pride, ‘Gay is good.’” Indeed, Dr. Saul Levin, the out gay CEO of the APA, tells the Los Angeles Blade, “LGBTQ folk have always been stereotyped and in some ways derided. There was a stigma to it.” But “as mental illness became more part of the medicalization,” some psychiatrists began to question the dataless assumptions about homosexuality, including Professor Sigmund Freud, a neurologist and psychiatrist. “A mother bought her son and said that there was something wrong with him. And that’s when [Freud] began to really look at a sort of homosexuality,” Levin says. “In some of his writing, he did not think that this was a mental illness, per se—that in some ways it was a sexual variant. I’m paraphrasing his words….But by the 1970s, it became very clear that some asked why was it a mental illness? Show us that we had a different problem or a mental illness compared to someone who has depression or anxiety.” That questioning led to an APA panel in 1972 with Kameny and Gittings and a masked “Dr. H. Anonymous,” the only gay psychiatrist who agreed to participate. “Yes, we are sick—we are sick of your manipulation and exploitation of us,” Kameny said. He demanded that “homosexuality be removed permanently from the psychiatric list of diseases” and called for “treatment of the oppressing society instead of the attempted treatment of us, the oppressed homosexual.” But, says Levin, it was “Dr. H. Anonymous” who really got them thinking. “John Fryer, a psychiatrist out of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was a gay man who realized at that time
he could lose his job, he could lose this apartment,” who came forward, says Levin. “The gay community was very much beginning to come out of the closet but it was also a time where we were highly discriminated against by legislation. And he eventually said to the APA that it was time for them to either take homosexuality out of the DSM, or they need to show the data of why it’s a mental illness. And the APA leaders at the time heard him, and within a year they had decided that there actually was not data so they took it out of the DSM,” in the 1973 publication. “Today, we know that it’s not a mental illness. We are just a variant in who we love and who we want, and who we are inside,” Levin says. “And obviously, sometimes whether you’re straight or gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, there may be parts of you that, because of some of the discrimination you may have had when you were younger, that’s the issue that has to be addressed as part of a good mental health, healthcare checkup….The bottom line is that it is a natural variant of the human being and, it does not need curing,” a position the APA continues to strongly advocate. Though less colorful and public than the Stonewall Rebellion, the fight against the APA’s designation of homosexuality was also a significant resistance to the oppressive heterosexual construct of “normalcy.” It is also the subject of the upcoming documentary Cured. “We were drawn to this story because it’s such a pivotal but largely unknown moment in LGBT history,” Cured Co-Director Patrick Sammon tells the Los Angeles Blade. “In fact, following the Stonewall rebellion of 1969, the campaign that resulted in the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses marked the first major step on the path to equality for LGBT Americans.” “At a time when every lesbian and gay man, no matter how well-adjusted, was automatically considered sick and in need of a cure, the diverse group of activists who took on the APA found the courage to stand up and tell the world that they — not psychiatrists — were the experts on their own lives,” says Bennett Singer, CoDirector of Cured. “Their tactics and strategy offer crucial lessons about how to create and sustain social change, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition. And their insistence on speaking truth to power can inspire and guide every LGBTQ American — as well as our allies — who wants to ensure that hard-won progress toward equality is not rolled back.”
APA CEO Dr. Saul Levin Photo courtesy APA
22 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
‘Stonewall 50’ expected to draw millions to NYC
Marches, rallies, celebrities to commemorate 50th anniversary of riots
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Melissa Etheridge is among the entertainers scheduled to perform at the World Pride Closing Ceremony on Sunday.
Organizers of the many events this weekend in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, credited with launching the modern LGBT rights movement, say an expected turnout of 4.5 million people will make it the world’s largest ever LGBT Pride celebration. In addition to the larger turnout expected from people from throughout the U.S., New York City Pride this year is the official host of World Pride, an international LGBT Pride event originally started in Europe that will take place for the first time this year in the United States. Heritage of Pride, the group that has organized New York City’s LGBT Pride events for more than 20 years, has said more than 4 million people were expected to turn out for the official New York Pride March on Sunday, June 30. The group says about 115,000 people were expected to march in over 100 contingents and the remainder of the crowds would be lining the streets as spectators. A spokesperson for Heritage of Pride said a large number of march contingents would be comprised of LGBT people and their supporters from other countries who were coming to New York to participate in World Pride events that began earlier this week. Among the Heritage of Pride, or HOP, events planned for June 30 is the official World Pride Closing Ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. in New York’s Times Square, which will include “a slate of influential speakers” and big name entertainers. Among the entertainers scheduled to perform are Melissa Etheridge, Deborah Cox, Jake Shears, MNEK, and The Prom Musical. Lesbian comedian Margaret Cho will host the event. The official New York City Pride March, organized by Heritage of Pride, is scheduled to kick off on Sunday at noon at 26th Street and 5th Avenue. It will travel past the Stonewall Inn gay bar in Greenwich Village, the site of the Stonewall riots, which has been designated a U.S. Historic Landmark. The march will end in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Organizers and longtime activists in New York say in recent past years the march has lasted as long as eight hours or more and this year’s march could last even longer. For the first time this year a dissident group in New York City, the Reclaim Pride Coalition, has organized a separate Queer Liberation March set to take place the same day as the official New York City Pride March on June 30. But the Queer Liberation March is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., at the site of the Stonewall Inn bar in Greenwich Village. It will travel from its starting point at Sheridan Square in front of the Stonewall along 7th Avenue to 10th Street where it will turn onto 6th Avenue and travel to Central Park, where a rally will take place. “The Queer Liberation March is a people’s political march – there will be no corporate floats, and no police in our march,” according to a statement released by the Reclaim Pride Coalition. “Our march is a truly grassroots action that will mobilize the community to address the many social and political battles that continue to be fought locally, nationally, and globally,” the statement says. Although not as large as the World Pride closing ceremony in Times Square organized by Heritage of Pride, the Queer Liberation March Rally, set to take place on Central Park’s Great Lawn, will include speakers and performers. Among
them will be nationally acclaimed playwright and co-founder of the AIDS protest group ACT UP, Larry Kramer. Among those scheduled to perform at the rally are Kevin Aviance and the lesbian singing group Betty. Activists in New York who have been following the plans for the two marches say many plan to participate in both since the Queer Liberation March will likely end before the New York Pride March begins at noon. James Fallarino, a spokesperson for Heritage of Pride, has said that while corporate floats will take part in the New York City Pride March in their role as corporate sponsors, such floats will be far outnumbered by contingents made up of nonprofit LGBT or LGBT supportive organizations. However, the New York City Pride website says that due to the large number of participants in the march, individuals interested in marching must be part of a group or contingent that has registered in advance to join the march. An individual that shows up on the day of the march won’t be allowed to join the march if he or she isn’t part of a preregistered contingent, although they will be allowed to watch the march on the sidelines, which will be fenced off from the street by security barriers set up by the New York City Police Department. Ann Northrop, one of the lead organizers of the Queer Liberation March, said that march will allow anyone to join its ranks at any location along its route. Northrop said for people unable to come to New York for the weekend events, organizers will be livestreaming the Queer Liberation March and rally on its website, reclaimpridenyc. org. The New York City Pride March will be broadcast live from noon to 4 p.m. on WABC TV Channel 7, the ABC Television Network’s New York City affiliate station. It couldn’t immediately be determined whether out of town viewers could see the ABC7 broadcast through a livestreaming on the station’s website. The following are some of the main events scheduled for this weekend by New York City Pride and the Reclaim Pride Coalition: • Stonewall 50 Commemoration Rally—Friday, June 28, 6 p.m. at Christopher Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village • Youth Pride—Saturday, June 29, 12 p.m. at Summer Stage in Central Park • Pride Island Celebration—Saturday, June 29, 2 p.m.; Hudson River Park’s Pier 97. The event will feature big name entertainers, including legendary singer Grace Jones, Teyana Taylor, Kim Petras, Pabllo Vittar, and Amara La Negra. • PrideFest street fair—Sunday, June 30; 11 a.m.; 4th Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place. The event includes exhibitors, entertainers and fun activities. • Queer Liberation March—Sunday, June 30, 9:30 a.m., begins at Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village outside the Stonewall Inn. The march ends in Central Park, where a rally will be held. • New York City Pride March—Sunday, June 30; 12 p.m.; begins at 26th Street and 5th Avenue. Grand marshals include the cast of “Pose,” Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Gay Liberation Front members, the Trevor Project, and Monica Helms. • World Pride Closing Ceremony—Sunday, June 30; 7 p.m. in Times Square; Melissa Etheridge is among the entertainers scheduled to perform.
24 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
The Marsha mystery and mystique Johnson and pal Sylvia Rivera key players in Stonewall legacy By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN
Marsha P. Johnson’s family says the criminal justice system in New York failed her. Photo courtesy Netflix
Ten-year-old Xander came out as nonbinary-femme this year to their elementary school. Transgender service member Terece began transitioning to female while still a sailor on active duty. Both recognize their historical debt to Stonewall activist Marsha P. Johnson. According to many sources and records, Johnson was an African-American self-identified drag queen and regular at New York’s Stonewall Inn, a mafiaowned gay bar catering to a crowd of mostly queer minorities, gender non-conformers and homeless youth. On June 28, 1969, the bar was raided by police and many reported Johnson and others fought back, resulting in rioting and later a commemorative march that would evolve into modern Pride parades. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color and her friend, would go on to found STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a charity and shelter for homeless transgender teens. After decades of activism punctuated by poverty, homelessness and mental illness, Johnson died in 1992 under suspicious circumstances. Rivera would die 10 years later from liver cancer after a lifetime devoted to trans activism. But it’s a history Millennial and Gen Z genderqueer youth like Terece and Xander have had to learn on their own. “I have heard of Stonewall,” says Xander, who uses they/them pronouns. “I’m actually reading a book about the Stonewall riots … and I listen to a queer history podcast.” “I know a little about the Stonewall uprising,” Terece says. “I’m learning on my own. I went to school in the ‘90s … so anything regarding LGBT rights has been self-study in my adult life now.” Both are aware of its impact on their lives. “I am aware of Marsha P. Johnson and her role in the Stonewall events,” Terece says. “To me Marsha is a trans woman of color who saw abuse and misjustice within her community and decided to take a stand. She is a figure of which we look to for guidance for how trans people should be treated.” Xander is just starting to hear about people like Rivera and Johnson. Some previous wrongs are slowly being righted. Johnson’s likeness is front and center on a new YA book called “What Was Stonewall?” by Nico Medina. In 2018, Johnson received a lengthy obit in the New York Times in its “Overlooked” series that supplies obits of those initially overlooked at the times of their deaths. Albert Michaels, Johnson’s nephew (who’s straight), says Johnson’s legacy and name recognition are sadly uneven. “I’m finding ... especially in her hometown of Elizabeth (N.J.), Marsha’s not really known there,” Michaels says. “Every time something goes on (to commemorate her) I post it to my Facebook page or post it to a community page. I mean, here, nobody really knows about Marsha, straight community, trans community or otherwise. Even when I did an
interview the other day in front of Stonewall and I went inside for the first time into the bar, no one really knew about Marsha. There was one guy who knew … and yet they all had these T-shirts and were selling them for Pride. But there would be no Pride or no Stonewall if this whole event didn’t happen.” Though he was just 8 in 1969, the weight of the loss adds emotion to his voice. “It’s sad to me. I went there (to Stonewall Inn) for some kind of enlightenment ... and I felt very disappointed. … I never saw Marsha in New York and to this day that is one thing that I regret. That I never went to search for Marsha, never walked the streets with Marsha … and to see things through Marsha’s eyes.” David France, director and producer of the Netflix documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” did meet Johnson in New York after moving there in 1981 and deeply appreciated the opportunity. “The queer community was still a very small and geographically bounded community and all gay life centered on Christopher Street,” he says. France’s voice lifts as he remembers a happier time as well as “Marsha’s joy.” “Christopher Street had a number of prominent characters,” he says. “And the most prominent of them was always Marsha. If you got in with Marsha, you felt like you had found a home. She made you feel at home. I was introduced to her in 1981 and not that she and I were friends, but I can say she served as a kind of an ambassador’s role to newcomers as they arrived in the city. And especially to the young people that she took under her wing. And I felt that in a small way she had bestowed some of that attention on me and I especially looked up to and felt grateful for that.” Michaels also appreciated Johnson’s motherly attention. “I knew Marsha all my life as a kid,” Michaels says. “When my memories shift of Marsha, I go back to the ‘70s and that 8-year-old kid.” His early memories of Johnson and the riots add color to the often white, middle-class narratives younger generations like Terece and Xander are reading. “Marsha was quite blunt and quite frank with me,” Michaels says. “She would talk about harassment from police and people mistreating her and how people were evil to each other. Telling me be true to myself and don’t let anyone change me, and to get my education. Basically, the things that a mother or a father would tell their children, basic things in life to try to get you along.” She once spoke of getting shot in the butt by a taxi driver. And of being beaten by cops and her “johns.” “She was straight with me,” he says. “She said you gotta be aware. And that actually helped me. That helped me be who I am today.” Continues at losangelesblade.com
Celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots & 50 years of
Love feeds the soul
26 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Five decades of progress since Stonewall 20 events that shaped the LGBTQ movement By MICHAEL K. LAVERS
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which are credited with launching the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Since that time, the country has seen tremendous progress in LGBTQ equality and acceptance. Here is a list of 20 events that have shaped the LGBT rights movement over the last 50 years.
JUNE 28, 1970:
Upwards of 2,000 people took part in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day that commemorated the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. This march is seen by many as one of the first Pride events.
DEC. 15, 1973:
The American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as a mental illness.
JUNE 8, 1977:
Voters in Dade County, Fla., repealed a gay rights ordinance the Dade County Commission approved earlier in the year. Anita Bryant’s campaign against the ordinance ahead of the referendum prompted outrage among LGBT activists across the country and a boycott of Florida orange juice. The Miami-Dade County Commission in 1998 approved a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. Dan White assassinated City Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone inside San Francisco City Hall on Nov. 28, 1978.
NOV. 27, 1978:
San Francisco Supervisor Dan White assassinated City Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone inside San Francisco City Hall. The assassination of Milk, a pioneering activist who was the first openly gay man elected in California, sparked an outpouring of grief that included a candlelight vigil in which up to 40,000 people participated. White’s sentence for voluntary manslaughter in connection with Milk’s murder sparked what became known as the White Night riots that took place in San Francisco in May 1979.
OCT. 14, 1979:
The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place in D.C. The gathering was the first of several large LGBT rights marches that have taken place since the Stonewall riots.
JULY 3, 1981:
The New York Times published an article on a “rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer” that later become known as AIDS. The AIDS epidemic has killed more than an estimated 600,000 people in the U.S. It also sparked activism that persists to this day, even though medications and access to treatment have allowed many people with HIV/AIDS to live longer lives.
JUNE 30, 1986:
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick ruled the Constitution does not protect consensual same-sex sexual activity. The decision upheld a Georgia law that criminalized oral and anal sex among consenting adults.
SEPT. 20, 1996:
President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples that were legally performed. Edith “Edie” Windsor challenged DOMA after she paid $363,000 in federal estate taxes when her wife passed away in 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 found DOMA unconstitutional.
OCT. 12, 1998:
Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student, died after two men brutally beat him and left him tied to a fence. Shepard’s death sparked outrage across the country. It also prompted his parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, to become vocal LGBT activists through their work with the Matthew Shepard Foundation they created after their son’s murder. President Obama in 2009 signed the Matthew Shepard and James
Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes law.
JUNE 29, 1999:
James Hormel became the first openly gay U.S. ambassador. President Clinton named Hormel to represent the U.S. in Luxembourg. More than half a dozen other openly gay men have been named ambassadors since 1999. These include current U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
JUNE 26, 2003:
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas ruled sodomy laws are unconstitutional.
NOV. 2, 2003:
New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop ordained by the Episcopal Church.
MAY 17, 2004:
Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to allow same-sex couples to legally marry.
FEB. 1, 2009:
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became the world’s first openly LGBT head of government when she was sworn in as Iceland’s prime minister. Sigurðardóttir left office in 2013. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel are openly gay, while Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić is a lesbian. Elio Di Rupo, who was Belgium’s prime minister from 2011-2014, is also openly gay.
SEPT. 20, 2011:
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that prohibited openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military, was officially repealed. “As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love,” said then-President Obama. “As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many
gay and lesbian service members.” The Pentagon in 2016 announced it would no longer prohibit openly transgender people from the military. The Trump administration has reinstituted this ban.
NOV. 6, 2012:
Tammy Baldwin became the first openly LGBT person elected to the U.S. Senate.
JUNE 26, 2015:
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges extended marriage rights to samesex couples across the country. James Obergefell, who was the lead plaintiff in the case, legally married his late-husband, John Arthur, on the tarmac of BaltimoreWashington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in 2013 after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. The couple’s home state of Ohio did not legally recognize their wedding.
JUNE 12, 2016:
A gunman killed 49 people inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others at a Las Vegas concert on Oct. 1, 2017. The Pulse nightclub massacre sparked renewed calls for gun control from LGBT rights advocates and their supporters. It also prompted President Trump, who was running for president, to renew his calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
NOV. 7, 2017:
Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the U.S. when she defeated then-Virginia state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), a vocal opponent of LGBT rights.
NOV. 6, 2018:
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected governor of a state. .
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28 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Stonewall Inn’s owners look back while moving forward LGBTQ landmark continues to evolve 50 years later By MARIAH COOPER
The modern Stonewall Inn is about half the size of the original bar and was last sold in 2006.
Open the front door to the Stonewall Inn today and you’ll find LGBTQ people from every walk of life. Locals and tourists alike gather for reasons as diverse as they are. Some patrons want to see the worldfamous Stonewall Inn; others pop in for a cocktail and the rest simply want to hang out in a gay bar. Among the crowd, you may even spot a famous face. Taylor Swift recently performed at Stonewall Inn; Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden came by to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots; and Madonna surprised fans with a New Year’s Eve performance at the historic bar in 2019. Co-owners Kurt Kelly and Stacy Lentz gave birth to this modern-day Stonewall Inn when they purchased it in 2006. Kelly, who is gay, felt that the Stonewall Inn had lost its connection with the LGBTQ community. He and a group of investors decided to purchase the property and brought investor Lentz, a lesbian community activist, on board as co-owner. It was the first bar Kelly and Lentz had ever owned but they were ready to return the Stonewall Inn to its LGBTQ roots. The original Stonewall Inn was a Mafia-owned bar located on 51–53 Christopher Street in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. “The Mafia bought up a lot of the gay bars because they saw money involved in there. They saw money in those spaces because gay people would go there and spend a lot of money,” Kelly says. Police raids were common for gay bars during that time and one such routine raid would make history on June 28, 1969 when bar patrons resisted arrest. The Stonewall Riots sparked a movement one year later when the first-ever Pride march was organized to commemorate the event. The march route stretched from the Stonewall Inn to Central Park. Shortly after the riots, the Stonewall Inn shut down. Over the years, it was converted into a bagel shop, a deli and a shoe store before reopening as a bar at 51 Christopher Street from 1987 before shuttering in 1989. The 53 Christopher Street location reopened as a bar in 1990 as New Jimmy’s but the name was changed to Stonewall a year later. Kelly, Lentz and their group of investors purchased the space at 53 Christopher Street making the new Stonewall Inn half the size of the original bar. Today, the Stonewall Inn is recognized as the catalyst for the modern LGBTQ rights movement. In 2016, President Barack Obama designated the Stonewall National Monument, which includes Stonewall Inn and Christopher Street Park, located across the street from the bar. The Stonewall National Monument became the first national monument marking an LGBTQ designated site. “I think it was incredible for the entire community, not just the owners of the bar, to have that recognized as telling us the fabric of American LGBTQ history is really important. The Parks Department and the national monument really can do that. We were super, super excited and it was an incredible moment for our entire community,” Lentz says. “It’s just extremely important for the LGBTQ community to have Stonewall, the birthplace, recognized as a national monument. Now it’s as famous as the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon.” The Stonewall Inn has also become known for its LGBTQ advocacy in recent years. In 2013, Lentz helped organize 80 non-profits for a rally outside of the Stonewall Inn in support of marriage rights. After the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre, the outside of the Stonewall Inn became a memorial for the victims. The outside of the bar has also been the site of protests against the Trump administration. Lentz decided to make Stonewall’s advocacy work more official in 2017. She spearheaded the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, a non-profit organization working toward LGBTQ equality in the United States. “We wanted to focus on places all over the country where equality has been slow to arrive. So a lot of that emphasis is on the 28 states where you can still be fired for being LGBTQ. They like to say you can get married on Friday and fired on a Monday. Legally, they don’t have the same options that we have and those places also have that daily stigma because of the prejudice of the communities around them,” Lentz says. As World Pride draws near, Kelly and Lentz say they’re prepping for the momentous occasion. “We’re planning to keep the doors open. We’re the epicenter. We’re at ground zero. We just have to make sure all the beer is there and the liquor is there for everyone to enjoy,” Kelly says. The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots has drawn more attention to the iconic bar and Kelly and Lentz hope that people will remember just how instrumental the Stonewall Inn was to the LGBTQ rights movement. “That’s where Pride began and that’s where Pride lives,” Kelly says. For Lentz, it’s also a conversation that needs to keep going. “What happened there in 1969, the brave men and women that started that fight, is not over. We have to honor that and all continue to vow to work and keep going until we have full equality and that’s what we all have to do together,” Lentz says. For more information on the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, visit stonewallinitiative.org.
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GEORGIA O’KEEFFE LIVING MODERN On view July 20 – October 20, 2019 The only West Coast venue to offer a new look at this iconic artist through her art, fashion, and style. Wayne and Rachelle Prim Nancy and Harvey Fennell | Dickson Realty The Jacquie Foundation LEAD SPONSOR
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Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts | E. L. Wiegand Gallery 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno, Nevada | nevadaart.org
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University and made possible by the National Endowment of the Arts. IMAGE : Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946). Georgia O’Keeffe, circa 1920–22. Gelatin silver print, 4½ x 3½ in. (11.4 x 9 cm). Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 2003.01.006.
30 • JUNE 28, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
One for the history books Spate of new and vintage titles wrestle with Stonewall’s complicated story By PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN
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Fifty years after a police raid on a seedy gay bar resulted in an historic uprising and the start of the modern Pride movement, several new books struggle to teach that history to a new and increasingly multicultural queer generation. “The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History” by Marc Stein is an encyclopedic work that invites readers to look past legends and examine primary documents for themselves. However, activists of color are not featured prominently despite an acknowledgement that “multiple sources on the riots mention these and other individuals,” arguing instead “many accounts are incomplete.” Still, the scope and scholarly nature of this work make it a must read for students and scholars of LGBT history. Gayle E. Pitman’s “The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets” is also a comprehensive yet short history written for a YA audience. Its strength is also its exposure of police records, historical photos and contemporaneous news accounts to young readers. Additionally, there are mini-lessons on Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Storme DeLarverie. But depictions such as separating DeLarverie from the “Stonewall Lesbian” could make it a challenge for young readers to understand why they were included other than to subtly dismiss them. However, Pitman’s engaging language and use of visual artifacts make this work an excellent ﬁrst foray for young readers, and it can easily be coupled with Harriet Dyer’s “The Queeriodic Table: A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Culture” as a quick reference to ﬁll in gaps. “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution” by David Carter remains a foundational text and was also the basis for the PBS American Experience documentary “Stonewall Uprising.” Despite being written nine years ago, its exhaustive research is still cited in many later books and documentaries. Its depth of focus on the people and places surrounding the bar enable a rich exploration of key ﬁgures such as Johnson in a way that may not seem ﬂattering but at least feels three-dimensional and real. This is a beneﬁt from focusing on narratives over artifacts, which is why each of these texts work together to relay a complex history to an increasingly diverse audience. “PRIDE: Fifty Years of Parades and Protests” from the photo archives of the New York Times is another interesting addition to any LGBT library. This is work is a visual history consisting of photos paired with descriptions of major events from each decade since Stonewall. It currently is a bestseller in Amazon’s lifestyle photography section and editorial reviews note “To take in the breadth of (PRIDE’s) contents ... is to witness the power of visibility ﬁrsthand.” The strength of this work is the feeling it gives you of being a witness to history even while living the freedoms and challenges of its legacy. The popular series WhoHQ series, which features “Who Was?,” “What Was?” and “Where Is” books in its series, takes on Stonewall with a new release “What Was Stonewall?” You’ve probably seen the series — They’re small paperbacks featuring vivid, full-color caricatures of their subjects on the covers. This 107page book by Nico Medina and lavishly illustrated with line drawings by Jake Murray, is a YA book that gives a nice, easy-to-digest account of the riots, what led up to them and what came after. It’s just $5.99. More info at whohq.com. “Pride: Photographs After Stonewall” features vintage photos from The Village Voice’s ﬁrst photo editor and staﬀ photographer Fred W. McDarrah. A reissue of a 1994 release timed to Stonewall’s 25th anniversary, it features blackand-white vintage photos taken in the immediate aftermath of the riots showing smashed jukeboxes, graﬃti-scrawled windows, participants and more. “Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet Into the Stonewall Era” features photos by Kay Tobin Lahusen (Barbara Gittings’ partner) and Diana Davies that are also featured in a current exhibit at the New York Public Library that runs through July 13. Together these works represent and depict not only LGBT history, but the complex social realities of American history as well.
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 26, June 28, 2019