STONEWALL Veterans' Association
Former S.V.A. Vice-President and Treasurer
and current S.V.A. Executive Committee Member
Zappalorti GLBT Society Founder and President
|Robert "Bert" A. Coffman was born on March 3, 1949 at
a.m. in the Harkness Pavillion at Columbia Presbyterian
Washington Heights at West 168 Street and Broadway in
Upper Manhattan, New York. He grew up in The Bronx on the
Concourse at Fordham Road.
Bert also lived in Brooklyn near DeKalb and
Flatbush Avenues on the campus of Long Island University in
the 1970s. In the 1980s, Bert moved to Staten Island to Von
Stueben Street and lived there throughout the
1990s. He moved back to
Manhattan for 2000. The only N.Y.C. borough Bert missed was
Queens yet he was there many Junes leading the
annual Queens Gay
Parade with the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.").
In the photo above in early
only one-and-a-half years after
the Stonewall Rebellion, Bert is shown with his
little Pekingese dog Wimpleton at his Bronx apartment.
graduated from Long Island
University in Brooklyn in 1974.
|"1969 was the most exciting year of my life. It was my Gay 'coming out' year. Greenwich Village was the Gay mecca. In 1969, I went to The Stonewall Club to dance, to Christopher's End to meet guys and to old Julius' Bar to be treated to drinks. The spirit of protest started to arise in the Gay community. "Gay Unity!" There was much from the anti-Viet Nam War protests, the civil rights demonstrations and the women's rights movement." "Gay Rights!" Bert nutshells saying: "I went from moonlit Stonewall to rainy Woodstock in the Summer of 1969, with many protest demonstrations in between." "Gay Power!"|
After the brutal Gay bias murder of Jimmy Zappalorti, a disabled Viet Nam era Navy veteran and psychiatric survivor who was Gay, in Staten Island in 1990, Bert founded the Zappalorti Society, named after Jimmy. Bert was its first head. The organization provides peer group, psychological and social support for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ("GLBT") members of the mental health community. Many call themselves "Gay consumers". As the perennial big wig of the Z-Society, Bert chairs their weekly Saturday sessions at the GLBT Community Center in Manhattan.
After winning an election in December of 2000, Bert became a Vice-President of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A."). Bert has been back to Brooklyn many times with the S.V.A. in June leading the Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade. On December 12, 2002, Bert went to Brooklyn to witness S.V.A. President Williamson receive a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ("GLBT") Pride Award from N.Y.C. Councilman Jed Davis. There was also a City Council Citation to the S.V.A. that was presented to Williamson, Reverend Magora and Bert on stage at his alma mater Long Island University.
was re-elected S.V.A.
for 2003, 2004 and 2005. "Berti" has been
City Hall to Bryant Park to Gracie Mansion and has joined
S.V.A. President Williamson at many meetings
public officials such as U.S. Senators Hillary
Clinton and Charles Schumer; U.S. Congressmembers Carolyn
Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner; N.Y.S. Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer; N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
N.Y.S. Senators David
Paterson, Liz Krueger and Tom Duane; N.Y.S.
Keith Wright, Jonathan Bing, Hakeem Jeffries, Brian
Kavanaugh and Matthew Titone; Manhattan Borough Presidents
Fields and Scott Stringer; and many N.Y.C. Councilmembers such as
Davis, Margarita Lopez,
David Weprin, Eva Moskowitz, Eric Gioia, Jessica Lappin, David
Melissa Viverito, Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and John Liu.
Bert observed that "All of these diverse
City Councilmembers that I've met via the S.V.A. and Williamson
are in all five boroughs. They all are respectively
supportive of the
S.V.A.'s 2nd V.P. Bert Coffman big handshakes with N.Y.C.
[Photography by the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York]
For 2006, with Cally Mark Z's completion
of S.V.A. Treasurer, Bert reluctantly agreed to be his follow-up.
calling prosepective supporters with his "X-Y-Z"
(meeting/letter/support) menu. On General
Night in 2006, as an elected S.V.A. officer, Bert
was invited as an SVA-er to the Sheraton Ballroom in Manhattan
for the victory
parties of U.S. Senator
Hillary, N.Y.S. Governor-elect Spitzer, Attorney
Cuomo and Congressmember Maloney -- all
avid S.V.A. supporters. Bert was joined by other S.V.A.
such as Emile Griffith plus Luis Rodrigo and Williamson plus Andre
Christie. Quoting Bert:
"Oh, what a great
night and all the winners are S.V.A. supporters! It was
ecstatic to witness the final demise of Marc "Gang" Green. A
schunda is he!"
Berti at N.Y.S. Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo's Inaugural Party
[Photo by Ruthybird]
In 2007, with no other candidates, Bert was re-elected the S.V.A. Treasurer. He tripped off the new year at an S.V.A. meeting with a 'prognosis negative' for the group's non-finances. In February, Bert represented the S.V.A. at a political candidates forum in Manhattan. On the 3rd of March, the S.V.A. held its "Big Berti's Biggi Birthday Bash at Bruxelles Bistro & Bar"!
Congressman Anthony Weiner rendezvous with a
few SW-Vetz including Bert
[Photo by Phil "Micah" Jones]
Berti, along with other Stonewall veterans, represented the S.V.A. during Gay Pride Month 2007 with planning sessions at The Stonewall Club, leading the Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade, acknowledged at Gracie Mansion by Mayor Bloomberg for his Gay Pride celebration, on stage in Bryant Park in Manhattan for the Gay Pride Rally, the "Stonewall Tribute" at St. John's Evangelical Church in The Village, the Stonewall Rebellion 38th Anniversary Party and S.V.A. Fun/Fund-raiser at The Stonewall Inn and the annual S.V.A. Stonewall Veterans Reunion at the Gay Community Center. In late June on Gay Pride Weekend, however, Berti chose a 'free' trip to a Gay mental health forum in Cally-fornia rather than as an S.V.A. officer proudly leading the NYC Gay Pride Parade with the SW-Vetz and the "SW-Car". Uh-oh! Ta-ta! Suddenly, there were two paths!! The other cleared a jungle path for the pacoderm return of Berti's old nemesis: The Grincha! By Fall, Bert's S.V.A. officership tenure was relieved by S.V.A. resolution during "Autumn Leaves". Meanwhile, Berti still has his paws full with the likewise worthwhile Zappalorti Society.
Gay Pride Month
Photo-Op with S.V.A. for OUT Magazine
of the NYC Stonewall Rebellion==
[Friday night, June 27 ~through~ Thursday evening, July 3, 1969]