A. "Berti" Coffman
STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association
Past S.V.A. Vice-President and former Treasurer
and current S.V.A. Executive Committee Member
Zappalorti G.L.B.T. Society Founder and President
|Robert A. "Bert" 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 Rebellion 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 aka Wimpy at their Bronx apartment.
graduated from Long Island
University in Brooklyn, NYC 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 STONEWALLl Club to dance, to Christopher's End to meet guys and to old Julius' Bar to be treated to free drinks by aging or old queens! The spirit of protest started to arise in the Gay community. "Gay Power!" "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 ("Z-Society"), named after Jimmy Z. Bert was its first and only leader. The organization provides peer group, psychological and social support for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ("G.L.B.T.") 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 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. formerly at the ambivalent New York City GLBT Community Centre and now at the welcoming St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church on Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.
After winning an election in December of 2000, Bert became a Vice-President of the STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association ("S.V.A."). Bert has been back to Brooklyn many times with the S.V.A. in June leading the annual Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade with the famous blue 1969 convertible known as the "Stonewall Car"! On December 12, 2002, Bert went to Brooklyn, ironiacally, back to his alma mater Long Island University, to witness S.V.A. President Willson L. Henderson receive a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ("G.L.B.T.") Pride on stage Award from New York City Councilman Jed E. "Jed" Davis. There was also a City Council Citation to the S.V.A. that was presented to Willson, Dave West, Reverend Magora, Bill Saltzman and Bert on stage by Councilman Davis to a standing ovation!.
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 Willson Henderson at many meetings
public officials such as U.S. senators Hillary
Clinton and Charles Schumer; U.S. congressmembers Carolyn
J. Maloney, Jerrold X. Nadler and Anthony 'Hot Dog' Weiner; N.Y.S. Attorney
General Eliot L. Spitzer; N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
N.Y.S. Senators David
Paterson, Liz Krueger and Tom Duane; N.Y.S.
Keith L. Wright, Jonathan
Bing, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Brian
Kavanaugh and Matthew Titone; Manhattan Borough presidents
Fields and Scott Stringer; and many N.Y.C. councilmembers such
Davis, Margarita Lopez,
David Weprin, Eva Moskowitz, Eric Gioia, Jessica Lappin, David
Melissa Viverito, Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez, John Liu,
Danny Dromm, Ben Kallos, Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera.
Bert observed that "All of these diverse
City Councilmembers that I've met via the S.V.A. and Willson
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 Willson 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" hosted bi Willson Henderson and AnDre Christie and attended by Storme DeLarverie, Leigh McManus, Joni Sobel and Ramon Bellido among other Stonewall veterans and guests!
Congressman Anthony Weiner rendezvous with a
few S/W-Vetz including Bert
[Photo by Phil "Micah" Jones]
Berti Coffman, along with many other Stonewall veterans, represented the STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association during Gay Pride Month 2007 with planning sessions at The Stonewall Club, leading the Brooklyn Gay Pride Parade, acknowledged at Gracie Mansion by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his Gay Pride celebration, on stage in Bryant Park in Manhattan for the Gay Pride Rally sponsored by Heritage of Pride, 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 Club in Greenwich Village, NY, and the annual S.V.A. Stonewall Veterans Reunion at the New York City 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 S/W-Vetz and the "S/W-Car". Uh-oh! Ta-ta! Suddenly, there were two paths!! The other cleared a jungle path for the pacoderm return of Berti's ancient, Stonewall Era nemesis: The Gay Grincha! By Fall, Bert's S.V.A. officership tenure was relieved by an S.V.A. resolution during "Autumn Leaves". Meanwhile, Berti still has his paws full with the likewise worthwhile Zappalorti "Z" Society and remains an active member of the S.V.A..
Berti Coffman re-elected as the First Vice-President of the STONEWALL V.A.
STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association (S.V.A.)
Big Berti's Birthday Bash!
Photo-Op with S.V.A. for OUT Magazine
on location at The STONEWALL Club, N.Y.C.
52nd Anniversary of the Gay Stonewall Rebellion in NYC=====
[Friday night, June 27 ~through~ Thursday evening, July 3, 1969, Greenwich Village, New York City]