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====STONEWALL====

* The Name * The Era * The Club * The People * The Rebellion *

 

The Name | The Era | The Club | The People | The Rebellion

 Gay History:  
First night of the NYC Stonewall Rebellion - Friday, June 27th, 1969
Second night of the Stonewall Rebellion - Saturday, June 28th, 1969
Third night of the Stonewall Rebellion - Sunday, June 29th, 1969
Note:  Most 'historians' cannot even get the above basic facts correct much less.....
Fourth night of the rebellion - Wednesday, July 2
Fifth and final night of the uprising - Thursday, July 3 
   

    
   

STONEWALL:  The Name

SW 40 button

 



The British derivation of the word and name "stonewall" for The Stonewall Inn or, later, The Stonewall Club is actually the combination of two words:  "stone" and "wall".  It is literally a barrier or a fence made of "stones" to have the strong effect of a "wall".  It was typically a loosely made -- but immovable -- wall of big stones without mortar.  A "wall of stone" was used chiefly to enclose a field or a cemetery.  Historically, the original Stonewall site, 51 and 53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, were horse stables!  During the Great Depression, the location was converted by a woman named Bonnie into a controversial tearoom.  In fact, the name was then two words as "The Stone Wall".  It subsequently had several other incarnations during which the name was revised to The Stonewall Inn.  As a Gay bar and dance club, The Stonewall was never an "inn".  Nor did anyone call it an "inn".  The Stonewall was, in reality, a bar and a club and, thus, referred to as a bar and/or a club.  At The Stonewall Club, the "stone walls" were literally used to enclose Gay, and other, people in a Gay club.  Moreover, you had to pay 'the man at the front door' to enter these "walls of stone"!

As an aside to this section "Stonewall:  The Name", as the S.V.A. founder Williamson Henderson has always said, and humorously includes in his speeches:  It's lucky that The Stonewall Club was not named "The Pink Poodle"!  Imagine our having the "Pink Poodle Era"?  Or, perhaps, the annual "Pink Poodle Gay Pride Parade"!  How about the "post-Pink Poodle Era"?  The Pink Poodle Chorale?  And, the "Pink Poodle Republicans"!  Plus, we would have had to refer to the 1969 Cadillac "Pink Poodle Car"!  By the way, don't over-laugh.  There is a restaurant in Greenwich Village from the Stonewall Era (and it is still there today) named "The Pink Teacup"!  Luckily, the Gay rights rebellion wasn't started there!

Politically, the term "stonewall" has appropriately and interestingly developed to intend the engaging of parliamentary or other debate or discussions.  It is usually used as a delaying or avoiding tactic.  Someone who is "stonewalling" is being very uncooperative, obstructive and/or evasive.  The person who is doing the "stonewalling" can be called a "stonewaller".  

To the veterans of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion for Gay rights, the term "Stonewaller" -- with a capital "S" -- has another and now historic meaning.  Having been at The Stonewall Club and/or participated in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, the members of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") are all "Stonewallers".

As of the March 2007 reopening of The Stonewall with new owners, The Stonewall's name returns to its original:  The Stonewall Inn.

 
   


 

   

STONEWALL:  The Era



"Gay Street" sign

Gay Street, off Christopher Street and near The Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, N.Y.

 




Many people -- including scholars and all media -- refer to the "Stonewall Era".  We members of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") know!  We, and, of course, many others, created the "Era" and, thus, we coined the term!  However, most people do not know exactly what "era" of actual time The Stonewall is made reference.  The Stonewall Club opened in the first month of 1966 (January) -- that's when the Mafia owners had a signed lease starting (January 1, 1966) -- and The Stonewall did not close until the last month of 1969 (December), the literal end of the decade.... and an era!  Many -- if not most -- people wrongly assume that The Stonewall Club  closed permanently as of  the time of the uprising.  Once the club reopened about ten days later, it slowly got busier than it ever had been prior!  Think about it!  You could actually go to the original and real club to drink, hang-out and/or dance where the Gay rebellion actually took place!  To the regulars, we were somewhat expecting a repeat of the invasion by the police.

Therefore, the "Stonewall Era" refers to the last four years of the 1960s, that is, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 inclusive.  Put in musical year terms, such as by Diana Ross & The Supremes, that would be "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1966), "Reflections" (1967), "Love Child" (1968) and "Someday We'll Be Together" (1969).  That's how many of us kids framed the years and thought in terms of what songs came out what years.  It was especially popular to do so as music was such a critical part of life at The Stonewall or any Gay club at that time.  Any Gay time-referral prior, 1965 and before, to the Stonewall Era has emerged in Gay and other history as being "pre-Stonewall".  Any time reference beginning in the new decade, 1970 and beyond, is known as being "post-Stonewall".  Today is post-Stonewall!  The Stonewall Club even set the era and its precise time boundaries.  The analogy is "B.C." and "A.D." likened to "before-Stonewall" and "after-Stonewall".  

The year 1970 was the the first Gay Pride Liberation March -- not a "parade" that year -- in New York City.  The main purpose of the march was to commemorate and celebrate the one-year anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.  That never-before-type event --  a Gay March -- in 1970, starting in Greenwich Village, New York, really crystalized the just completed and really historic "Stonewall Era" in earnest.  The secondary reason was visibility!  



   

1994:  "Stonewall:  Night Variations" (the musical play)
     

"Stonewall:  Night Variations" -- The Play 
[Original Painting by Joanna Jasinska of NYC]


The timely purpose of the musical "Stonewall:  Night Variations" was to further commemorate and tribute the 25th anniversary of the incredible 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.  In fact, the play appropriately opened during Gay Pride Month in June of 1994.  In order to obtain accurate information about the Gay people of the Stonewall Era, and particularly patrons of the Stonewall Club, many members of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") were interviewed extensively.  From these interviews, authentic composite characters were created for the play.  Williamson Henderson, Terri Van Dyke, Leigh McManus, Dave West and Electra O'Mara were a few of those.  S.V.A. members also provided more than enough 411 to create a Marsha Johnson character named "Wanda".  The site-specific production location was established above the rusting piers along the Hudson River on the lower West Side of Manhattan namely at Pier (ironically numbered) "25".  Because "Stonewall" was a memorialization of that historic Gay event for civil rights and power, the production company qualified and were finacially helped by, for example, a grant from the Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund. 

This musical play "Stonewall" was presented by En Garde Arts.  Actually, the production was mainly run by the interesting concept (especially then) of all women.  Tina Landau wrote and directed, film segments were created by Jennie Livingstone ("Paris Is Burning"), Annie Hamberger produced the happening and Michele Bosch managed the stage.  All of the reviews were positive, interesting and appreciative.  One of The New York Times critics stated:  "Stonewall: Night Variations is in the great American tradition of the hometown historical pageant".  Another NYT entertainment reviewer declared:  "The Stonewall show is the kind of busy, exciting and upbeat spectacle that celebrates a battle win"!  Opening night -- extra exciting during Gay Pride Month -- proved to also be a reunion of Stonewall veterans and long-lost friends from the Stonewall Era.  The original painting (shown above) by commissioned for this theatrical "Stonewall" production.  Subsequent to the theatrical run, the painting was generously donated by the artist Ms. Joanna Jasinska to the STONEWALL Veterans' Association during the Summer of 1994.  Several actors associated with "Stonewall" (the play), such as actor Tyrone Mitchell, have kept in touch periodically with the S.V.A.    
   
 

En Garde Arts presents "STONEWALL:  Night Variations" -- a music theater spectacle!  Fifty actors will celebrate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising!!


   

   

   
STONEWALL:  The Club


The Stonewall Club at 51 and 53 Christopher Street is a building
whose main floor is literally a cemented "stonewall". The club
was composed of two bars, two bathrooms (with infra-red lights),
a wooden dance floor, four cafe booths in the second room (dance
room), a great jukebox and, incredibly, a wishing well! Oh, yeah!
In brief, the Stonewall Club served as the first NYC Gay Community
Center. In New York City, the Stonewall Club was undeniably the
prime place that Gay people met. Of course, there were some other
Gay places, too, but Stonewall was the main event. It's where you
were with other people of the same sexual persuasion. The "SW" was
a "safe place". That's why the club was registered as a "private
club" -- to keep anti-Gay heterosexuals out. Regular heteros were
not allowed either, unless they were accompanied by a Gay. We had
to be careful back in 1969 and not take any chances at a Gay club!
The club was where you found out what was going on in the greater
Gay community. The Stonewall was where you made friends -- some
for life! You could go there with your boy- or girlfriend. At The
Stonewall, same-gender couples could actually dance together and
publicly display some affection. In fact, you could even make-out!
As a matter of fact, you could dance slow together and make-out!!
It was also the place to meet your next boyfriend -- or girlfriend.
As stated, in many ways, the Stonewall Club in Greenwich Village,
New York City, functioned as the center of the entire Universe.






1968:  Pre-Stonewall Rebellion
at
The
STONEWALL Inn


Pre-Stonewall Rebellion

Williamson and Sonia Jane at The Stonewall
[Photography by a special Stonewall photographer]
 

New York, NY - The Stonewall Inn, New Year's Eve, December 31, 1968.  This is the only known existing photo taken inside The Stonewall Inn.  It is one of the few booths that were in the club.  The exact location inside the club is in the second room -- the dance room -- against the right side wall of the club.  Don't let the linen tablecloth give you the right impression.  Only thrice a year on certain holidays, namely Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve, the Mafia-owned Stonewall Club "went all out" and "did the right family thing".  Some think that it may have been done on Easter Sunday during that era yet definitely at The Stonewall Club  

On these special occasions, to bring a lasting and real sense of "family" to the Gay patrons, they actually had an 'authorized' photographer -- for those who wanted to have their photo taken at The Stonewall.  As a matter of reality at that time, virtually all patrons of any Gay establishment scooted in the opposite direction of any camera.  Flash bulbs were mostly a must to avoid.  However, the Gay couples and the fag' n' hag duos, such as Williamson Lee Henderson and Sonia Jane Attkiss, pictured above at The Stonewall on New Year's Eve in 1968, loved it!  It was a happening that many of us looked forward to as a happy souvenier from the place we loved.  The cost was $10 per picture.  You paid the ten bucks in advance before the picture was taken.  This was not The Copa!  We never understood then (we do now) how the club was able to present you with your cardboard-framed picture within about an hour.  
Williamson and Sonia even bought photo copies -- also at $10 each -- for their mothers.  Little did the moms (and many other relatives) know that the straight-looking couple were at a forbidden Gay dance club in the notorious Greenwich Village and were simply Gay friends posing.  

Naturally, the Stonewall Club made a nice profit on all of this -- as they did with the coat check, the jukebox, the bar, of course, and even the wishing well!  Otherwise, they would never have done it.  It was the moneys!  With the Gay clubs, besides the most up-to-date fashion styles, the most colorful outfits and the koolest dance moves, the Mafia owners could always count on a Gay profit!
   





"Songs of The Stonewall"


The songs of The Stonewall Club refer to any of the songs that
were in the jukebox of the original Stonewall Club located at
51 and 53 Christopher Street opposite Sheridan Triangle and
off Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village in New York City, N.Y.
The music at Stonewall was the glue that linked all together.
Listed below are the most popular Stonewall songs from 1969. 



50 Songs from the
1969 STONEWALL Jukebox*

Someday We'll Be Together.............Diana Ross & The Supremes
I Want You Back.............Michael Jackson & The Jackson 5
(I Love You) More Today Than Yesterday.............Spiral Starecase {male pop group}
Stand!.............Sly Stone & The Family Stone
Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (from "Hair").............The Fifth Dimension w/ Marilyn McCoo
Honky Tonk Women.............The Rolling Stones w/ Mick Jagger
I Can't Get Next To You.............The Temptations w/ Dennis Edwards & Eddie Kendricks
This Is My Life.............Shirley Bassey
My Way.............Frank Sinatra
It's Your Thing.............The Isley Brothers
Friendship Train.............Gladys Knight & The Pips
(Na Na, Hey Hey) Kiss Him Goodbye.............Steam {male rock group}
Before The Parade Passes By (from "Hello, Dolly").............Barbra Streisand
Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.............Marvin Gaye
We've Got Honey Love.............Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
And That Reminds Me (Of You).............Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Am I The Same Girl.............Barbara Acklin
Come Together.............The Beatles w/ Paul McCartney
Nothing But A Heartache.............The Flirtations (girl soul group)
Don't Bring Back Memories.............The Four Tops w/ Levi Stubbs
A Brand New Me.............Dusty Springfield
Build Me Up, Buttercup.............The Foundations {white male soul group}
U Came, U Saw, U Conquered.............Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes
Good Morning Starshine (from "Hair").............Oliver
Stand By Your Man.............Tammy Wynette
What Does It Take To Win Your Love.............Jr. Walker & The All Stars
Grazing In The Grass.............Friends of Distinction {mixed M&F group}
Crystal Blue Persuasion.............Tommy James & The Shondells
This Girl's In Love With You.............Dionne Warwick
My Cherie Amour.............Stevie Wonder
Past, Present And Future (1966 reissued 1969).............The Shangri-Las w/ Mary Weiss
The River Is Wide.............The Grass Roots {male rock group}
Put A Little Love In Your Heart.............Jackie de Shannon
Twenty-Five Miles.............Edwin Starr
Make Your Own Kind Of Music............."Mama" Cass Elliot
Touch Me.............The Doors w/ Jim Morrison
Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By.............Tammi Terrell 
Suspicious Minds.............Elvis Presley 
Happy Heart.............Petula Clark
I Can Hear Music.............The Beach Boys
Destination Anywhere.............The Marvelettes
Everybody's Talkin' (from "Midnight Cowboy").............Harry Nilsson
Share Your Love With Me.............Aretha Franklin
Easy To Be Hard (from "Hair").............Three Dog Night
While You're Out Lookin' For Sugar.............The Honey Cone (girl soul group)
Hooked On A Feeling.............'B.J.' Thomas
Tonight I'll Say A Prayer.............Eydie Gorme
Baby, Baby, Don't Cry.............Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Ticket To Ride.............Karen Carpenter
I Can Sing A Rainbow.............The Dells {male soul group}
*
=bonus song=
 
Over The Rainbow 
(1939 tribute reissue June 1969).............Judy Garland

*
{Songsters that are lesser known nowayears, are described in italicized parenthesis.}

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* Information compiled from the copyrighted "Songs of The Stonewall" (1969)
and all references must credit the STONEWALL Veterans' Association (SVA).

 Musical Note:  To provide the greatest diversity of singing artists popular at The Stonewall Club, "50 Songs in the Stonewall Jukebox" -- chosen from the composite "Songs of The Stonewall" -- represent only one song by each artist.  Some singers such as The Supremes and The Seasons had several singles in the Stonewall Jukebox in the course of a year.  Some other very popular artists like The Temptations, The Stones, Streisand, Sinatra, Smokey, Shirley and Sly had a few singles in the Stonewall Jukebox in a calendar year  All of the songs listed (above) were not simultaneously in the Stonewall Jukebox.   

Suggestion:  Use any of the authentic "Songs of The Stonewall" listed above as the music for a Gay Pride
parade float, a Gay-themed theatrical production, a Gay celebratory event, a theme song for a rally, an outdoor stage or a school presentation.


 

       
1997:  The Stonewall Club calls on help from the S.V.A. (once again) 

Supportive letter from the first openly-Gay New York City Councilmember Antonio M. Pagan -- as arranged by S.V.A. President Williamson Henderson -- to get The Stonewall Club a "Cabaret License" for the second floor new entertainment room.  The S.V.A. via Williamson and S.V.A. Ambassador Storme DeLarverie testified at the New York City Bureau of Standards and Appeals.  The big hearing room was packed with S.V.A. members and supporters and Stonewall Club staff and patrons.  We won!

 

 



"The Stonewall Window II"
[Photo by Leigh McManus]


*    "Stonewall Window" -- This is the second version replete with 'homey' Peyton Place flower box but with one-quarter of the window area still panelled.  Quite a change from 1969 when the window was painted black (from the inside and the outside).  Nice flowery effect now but, remember, this is right on the Gayest street in the world:  Christopher Street, U.S.A. -- the most Gay pedestrian thoroughfare.
*    "Stonewall Sign" -- This sign, made by The Stonewall's printer, heralds the upcoming S.V.A. fun-raising and fund-raising event.  It states the date, Tuesday, November 21, 1997, and the starting time of 8 p.m.  The event was the kick-off to the S.V.A.'s "Stonewall Memorial" project.  A beautiful, professional design was on display on an easel inside the club.  So was the artist, Dahn Huini.  The 1969 "Stonewall Car" was on display outside (no need to post that on the sign).  Curiously, the "718" phone number belonged to the S.V.A. Treasurer Terri Van Dyke in 1999, when he used to live in The Bronx.
*    "Stonewall Poster" -- The poster which The Stonewall Club posted out front is actually the colorful centerfold of a recent Transgender Tapestry Magazine (Summer 1997).  The story title reads:  "STONEWALL:  From Stonewall the Rebellion to Stonewall the Movie - An Interview with Queen Allyson Ann Allante".  Pictured are Queen Allyson in a sparkling, strapless, red sequined dress being masculinely embraced by King Farrell Armstrong wearing a pair of black Armani slacks and brown muscles.  It is a colorful, racey, eye-catching photo by any standards.  Around the main photo are smaller pix, which are various promotional scenes from the actual movie "Stonewall".  Queen Allyson Ann has a special, significant, unforgettable "Stonewall Testimonial" cameo appearance in the crucial opening sequence of the film.  The STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") is mentioned with "Special Thanks" in the film's credits.  This placing of the "Stonewall" poster, of course, drew a lot of attention to the S.V.A. event.

   

 

   

 S.V.A.'s promotional postcard for its "Stonewall Vets Monument Project"

 

Stonewall Vetz Mini-Reunion at The Stonewall Club
[Photo by Dominic DeSimone]

Pictured deja vu in the legendary Stonewall Club for a STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") event are (l-2-r):  King Stormé DeLarverie, S.V.A. Vice-President; Queen Allyson Allante, S.V.A. Board of Directors and S.V.A. Spokesperson; Terri Van Dyke, S.V.A. Treasurer; Sylvia Rivera, former S.V.A. Secretary (wearing purple bandana and red intoxicated with one free drink after another); and Yvonne Ritter, current S.V.A. Secretary and a nurse!  The S.V.A. had the entire club -- upstairs and downstairs -- for its benefit function.  The photo was taken on the SVA-owned Minolta 35 m.m. camera by The Stonewall Club's current chief owner Dominic DeSimone.

 

 

 

1999:  The Stonewall Club is added to the National Register of Historic Places

 

 

Stonewall 30:  Federal recognition of the original Stonewall building and surrounding area by the United States of America

S.V.A. Editorial Notes:  The above story grossly and incredulously leaves out letters from the STONEWALL Veterans' Association, representing the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ("GLBT") people who started it all!  It's as if some people selectively think that the Stonewall Rebellion was conducted by descendants of "The Invisible Man".  The story rudely does not even mention the actual human "veterans" of the Stonewall Rebellion.  It's like "honoring" the bus that she rode on but not Rosa Parks!  This story also failed as well to mention letters arranged by the S.V.A. from many of the very prominent public officials such as NYS Governor George E. Patali, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, current Mayor Rudy Giuliani, U.S. Congressmembers Edolphus Towns, Carolyn Maloney and Joseph Crowley, former Congressmember Geraldine Ferraro, N.Y.S. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, former NYC Family Court Judge Karen Burstein, among others, who were recruited exclusively by the S.V.A. to send powerful testaments as to why the historic Stonewall Club and immediate area should be declared a historic site and placed on the National Historic Register. 



STONEWALL
Newzletta Newz (March 2007 item)

The Stonewall at (just) 53 Christopher Street has been totally renovated in a beautiful decor and romantic atmosphere.  Bi the way, the other half of the original Stonewall Club at street level is now occupied by a fingernail salon!  Before then, that storefront was leased to a men's leather clothing shop.

The new Stonewall owners have returned it to the original name:  The STONEWALL Inn.  These diverse owners attended a recent meeting of the renowned S.V.A.  Appropriately, the Stonewall Club again supports the Stonewall People!!  We hope that it lasts this time.

Double doors to The Stonewall Inn have re-opened on Monday, March 12, 2007.

Recent Gay History Event:  The "Grand Gay Re-Opening" of The Stonewall was on Friday, June 1st, 2007 @ 6 p.m.  The STONEWALL Veterans' Association was ever-present.  The 1969 "Stonewall Car" convertible was on display out front of the club on Christopher Street -- just like in the Gay days!  For any upcoming S.V.A. events periodically held at the place that we made famous, The Stonewall Inn, visit:  www.STONEWALLvets.org/upcomingevents.htm.

   

 


 

   

STONEWALL:  The People

Stonewall Song:  "Kind Of A Drag"

Stonewall Veteran Daria Modon in N.Y.C. in 1969

 

 

"The Spirit of Stonewall -- 30 Years Later"
by Stonewall Vet Williamson L. Henderson 
as featured in LGNY Newspaper

 


"The Spirit of Stonewall:  30 Years since the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion"

The "Songs of The Stonewall" referred to in this Gay Pride history article include the following:  "When I'm Gone" (1965) by Brenda Holloway, "Strangers In The Night" (1966) by Frank Sinatra, "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" (1967) by Diana Ross & The Supremes, "The Windmills Of Your Mind" (1969) by Dusty Springfield and "My Way" (1969) by Sinatra.  Other favorite singers from The Stonewall who were mentioned in the story include a musical "who's who" with Judy Garland, Marvin Gaye, Barbra Streisand, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Elvis Presley, The Shangri-Las featuring Mary Weiss, The Temptations, Shirley Bassey, Paul McCartney of The Beatles, Dionne Warwick, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Mick Jagger and Tammi Terrell.  For more 411 about the "SOTS", visit:  www.STONEWALLvets.org/songsofStonewall-1.htm.

   

 

Stonewall Song:  "Message To Michael"

Michael Ira Swerdlow

Stonewaller Michael I. Swerdlow of New York in June 1969

 

 

Stonewall Song:  "If U Wanna Be Happy For The Rest Of Your Life"

Miss Marsha P. Johnson

Miss Marsha P. Johnson goes to Gay Pride!
[Copyrighted photo by GOAL Officer Peter Guardino courtesy of the TJ Archive]

 

 

1999:  SVA's Williamson Henderson featured Speaker at Stonewall Protest
as reported in the New York Post by Clemente Lisi

"Anti-Gay Protestors run into STONEWALL" -- and Williamson Henderson!

"In June, President Bill Clinton announced that the Stonewall Inn, the nearby park and Christopher Street and Sheridan Square would join the list of more than 70,000 national historic sites.  Williamson Henderson, president of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association, who was at the famous police raid on The Stonewall Club thirty years ago, said the (anti-Gay) group stood no chance of getting its message across.  'We were able to drown them out', he said.  'They were chanting anti-Gay messages that were very nasty and bigoted.  But our numbers grew over the two-hour period while no one joined their side.'"

 


   

Stonewall Song:  "Expressway To Your Heart"

Carl Keller Volvo   

Stonewall Vet and Viet Nam Veteran Carl J. Keller, Jr. in 2000
[Photo by Widge of Waterbury]

 

 

2001:  Next Magazine interviews Stonewall Veterans at an S.V.A. Meeting

 

 

"A Visit with the Stonewall Veterans"
by Tony Phillips
NEXT Magazine
15 June 2001

"Riot".  The word encompasses everything from bad television copy ("laff riot") to destructive urban unrest (Newark - 1967, Crown Heights - 1991, South Central Los Angeles - 1992).  One thing STONEWALL Veterans' Association Executive Director Williamson Henderson wants to make abundantly clear is that the June 1969 Stonewall Rebellion was not a 'riot'.  "The word is pejorative", the impish S.V.A. leader says.  "When Black people used to march in the civil rights marches of the 1960's, some White people liked to say, 'They're rioting'.  It's used to keep people down by implying destruction, fires, looting, massive casualties and loss of life.  None of those things happened at Stonewall."

The occasion for this visit to the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") is their monthly executive meeting at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center on Little West 12th Street in Manhattan.  It's smack in the middle of the Memorial Day weekend, but that doesn't matter to the ten men and two women gathered around three long, solid folding tables, which cut the room diagonally.   The S.V.A. meets on the last Saturday of the month, rain or shine, holiday weekend or not.   In fact, the end of the month is so important to them, that their phone number =6-27-1969= is also the exact calendar date of the first night of the Stonewall Rebellion (June 27, 1969).

The working weekend is not to say that a meeting of the Stonewall Veterans is all matter-of-fact business.  At one point during the meeting, two rather large women with fanny packs join in progress.  After exchanging puzzled looks, they wait a beat and then get up, mumbling, "We think we're in the wrong meeting".  Not even cries of "We have juice" and "We need the gender mix" can entice them to stay.  The same thing happens towards the end of the meeting when a cute boy in an Armani Exchange (AX) hat mistakes it for an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and is bombarded with, "Who are you?"

There's also Williamson, with his fly-away Warholish hair and his hysterically funny, 'politically incorrect' banter.  He takes on Heritage of Pride's frequent Rally hostess Judy Gold ("I make better jokes when I'm taking a shower").  He curtails chatter from Reverend Magora about racial profiling that's threatening to derail his meeting with the admonition, "Bring it up with the Gay Scrabble Club".  He even gets off a read of lesbianism proclaiming:  "It sounds like a disease.  Anyone who is a lesbian is GAY".  All this joking aside, what Williamson and the S.V.A. are looking for boils down to hard-earned, well-deserved, largely overdue, simple RESPECT.

This becomes more evident when one of the Veterans, Terri Van Dyke, explains to me....  "The word is respect".  Williamson, the tight blue-jeaned Veteran with a diamond stud in his ear, and the other Stonewall Veterans have just been rehashing an unfortunate incident that happened in 1999's New York City Gay Pride Parade.   While pausing in front of The Stonewall Inn for their annual photo and prayer, Williamson explains, the Stonewall Veterans were confronted by a New York City Police Department inspector for stopping the parade.  An official of Heritage of Pride, who used the police against the Stonewall Veterans, tore up the S.V.A. parade car permits, tossing them into the air like confetti.  To add insult to injury, after "resolving" the matter, at the end of the block, the Stonewall Veterans' contingent of six cars was forced by the police out of the parade.
   

   
How is it possible that 30 years after the initial uprising such a diss could take place?  Williamson explains:  "As you can gather from our meeting today, it's a battle for the S.V.A. to get people who are very much alive today to understand the truth and the significance of the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.  Usually, we first educate them on the basic terminology -- a rebellion (not a 'riot') -- and the basic date -- June 27th (not June 28).  There are people walking around today in the GLBT community who really know very little about it and don't seem to have much interest in their own history.  The past is part of the future.  If you don't respect the past, it doesn't bode well for the future."

But when all is said and done.... have things really changed?  The Reverend Magora Kennedy, a plucky 62-year-old Black Lesbian sporting a purple S.V.A. pin on her lapel, addresses the question of whether we're really much better off post-Stonewall.  "It's better in the fact that people are more visible.  And always, if you're more visible you have a little better chance.  And I always believe in safety in numbers and so as a group, as a community, as we become more visible, it is going to be better.  But police brutality has definitely gone up; before it was the Gays and the Lesbians.  And now, it's mostly people of color.  So, in one sense it's gotten better, in another sense it's gotten worse.

Stormé DeLarverie adds that pre-Stonewall, it was possible to incur $70 fines just for "looking at someone with desire".  The Reverend Magora explains, "If you were a man in drag out and about in The Village and you didn't have on at least two pieces of male clothing and a cop stopped you, they frisked you and you were going to jail.  Same thing for females who were 'drag kings'.  Even though they had on three-piece suits, if they weren't wearing a bra, panties and stockings (ha, ha, ha), they were going to jail."  Of the Stonewall Rebellion, she says, "People just got sick and tired of being sick and tired.  In a place like The Stonewall, male couples were dancing and the white lights would flash.  That meant the cops were coming and everybody stood still or sat down.  You always had what they called, for lack of a better term, 'fag hags', so the guys were standing with or sitting with females."

Williamson Henderson cannot resist making a joke about the question of the future of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association.  He is asked where he sees the S.V.A. from now?  "50 years from now?", he asks.  "This group?  50 years from now I see this group as dead."  The room dissolves into peals of laughter.  Once they've collected themselves, another Stonewall Veteran, Bert Coffman, states, "The legacy of Stonewall will always be kept alive by the New York City Gay Pride Parade every year and all the other smaller pride parades".  Williamson adds, "The most important thing is absolutely the GLBT Pride Parade and for everyone to show visible support."  He decries the Gay and non-Gay businesses holding 'special Gay Pride' brunches during the parade hours, saying, "That is really obscene.  Any business that tells Gay people to come in and spend money and not go to the Gay Pride Parade is demonstrating the exact opposite of "Gay Pride".  That never happened until a few years ago.  Gay businesses used to be closed during the parade.

Williamson responds to the question of whether we'll be attending a 'march' or a 'parade' on June 24th.  "Anyone knows the definition of a parade," he says.  "You can look it up in a dictionary.  When you have marching bands and floats and drag queens and classic cars and balloon arches, it is clearly a parade."  Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  It's something to keep in mind when the "Stonewall Car" goes by this year.  Gay Pride is also a reason to celebrate.  One need look no further than the Stonewall Veterans to understand that.  "This parade has everything except organ grinders and monkeys," Williamson adds, with a laugh.  "And if you told me you saw them, too, I wouldn't be surprised."

[Tony Phillips is a national free-lance writer, editor and filmmaker living in New York City.]

 

 

Stonewall Song:  "Leader Of The Pack"

David Raphael Ali

David R. Ali, literally killed in a motorcycle crash
[Photo above by Anthony P. Middleton]

 

 

 

 

Stonewall Song:  "Sometimes I Wish I Were A Boy"  

 Rose "Roby" Giordano, 66 (in 2002), S.V.A. Member
at the GLBT Community Center in N.Y.C.
[Photo by Terri Van Dyke]

 

 

2003:  The New York Blade News Feature Gay Pride Story --
"The Stonewall Rebellion, The Stonewall People and the "Stonewall Car"


 

"Memories Fade, Apathies Grow:  Who Will Tell Our (Gay) Story?" 
by Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

     "If you have witnessed the start of any Gay Pride Parade in any of the boroughs of New York City, you have undoubtedly seen the mint-condition, metallic blue 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible that leads every parade, bearing the NYS license plates "STONEWALL"!  With it are the mothers and fathers of our community.  

These are the 'accidental' heroes and heroines who started the largest civil rights movement in history when they stood up and said, "Enough!"  They are the members of the S.V.A., the STONEWALL Veterans Association, founded by Williamson L. Henderson, on July 11, 1969, just two weeks after the Stonewall Rebellion.

SVA recently held the "Stonewall Symposium XXXIV", at the GLBT Center.  Panelists included Stonewall veterans Jeremiah Newton, Williamson Henderson, Storme DeLarverie, R. Bert Coffman, Electra J. O'Mara, Dr. Tom R. Stevens and Reverend Magora E. Kennedy.  The panel recognized a number of other Stonewall veterans also in attendance....................................................................

   

 

Follow-Up Letters from Stonewall Vetz
to the New York (Gay) Blade News


Stonewall Veterans Respond with Letters to the New York Blade Gay Newspaper

   

 Stonewall Veterans respond to Provide more Information and Complement the Blade Story

   

 

STONEWALL Newz:  Stonewall Vet legally Marries his Male Spouse

Stonewall Song:  "Happy Together"

   Stonewall veteran David Bermudez (left) and spouse Robert Isadore: 
  together for over three decades; married in Massachusetts in 2004 
Dave & Bob lead the NYC Gay Parade every year with the S.V.A.

   

   

   2004:  The Men in Blue at Stonewall: 
New York City Police Department "Stonewall Cops" 
-- 35 Years Later via the New York Blade News

Front-page date for the Stonewall Rebellion is seriously wrong!  "June 18th"?!  No, it was June 27th! 

 Some retired New York City Police Department ("NYCPD") officers from the Sixth Precinct in Greenwich Village, New York, who were at one or more evenings of the Stonewall Rebellion and pictured above are as follows (l-2-r):  Vinny Giamusso, Frank Tuscano, John Romani and John Pigot.  Other officers present but not shown include Richie Ornstein, Frank Belloti, Tommy Noble and Ritchie Carlotti.  The Boys-in-Blue now belong to the community-minded, non-profit Stonewall Benevolent Association ("SBA"), comprised of retired NYCPD 6th Precinct officers.  They periodically coordinate Stonewall Era educational or social events with the STONEWALL Veterans' Association.  

"Stonewall's Police -- the Gay Alamo:  Present at the Creation" 

   

   

   New York Blade publishes letters of the S.V.A. President and the S.V.A. Editor

     Stonewall Punchline:  "Stonewall Vets and Stonewall Cops -- Friends Now"

 

 

Stonewall Song:  "Don't Rain On My Parade"

Chief Dave West leads the S.V.A. in NYC Gay Pride Parade
[Photography by the New York Daily News]

 

   

2004:  The New York Times reports on the First and 35th Anniversary Reunion of 
the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion Vets, the Stonewall Cops and the "Stonewall Car"

     Reunited:  "The Two Sides of Stonewall Raise Glasses on Common Ground"

 


 

First Reunion:  NYCPD with Gay Veterans of the Stonewall Rebellion

Photos of the actual reunion of the Stonewall Copz and the Stonewall Vetz:

www.NPR.org/story/StonewallCops&StonewallVetsReunion


    

 

Stonewall Song:  "This Girl's In Love With U"

 Dianne Yodice SVA

Dianne P. Yodice of Bensonhurst in Bloomingdale's
[Photo by Terri J. Van Dyke]

   

     

Stonewall 35 Play:  "The Last Sunday In June"

This Gay play's title refers to the Stonewall Rebellion's weekend timeframe

   



Stonewall Song:  "Girls, It Ain't Easy"

Bettye Cleveland Bristol

43 years after Stonewall, Bettye Bristol celebrates her 60th birthday
[Photo by Thomas Oakley in Cleveland, Ohio]

   

 

 

       

STONEWALL:  The Rebellion



   
There were many factors which contributed to an actual uprising -- standing tall-- at The Stonewall Club in mid-1969.  The first night of the rebellion was Friday, June 27th.  One of the unexpected ingredients causing the proverbial Gay soup pot to boil over and into the street was that Friday, June 27th, 1969 was the worldwide-publicized funeral of Gay icon entertainer/actress/singer Judy Garland in Manhattan, less than two miles from The Stonewall Club!  As guest speakers at many STONEWALL Veterans' Association seminars and forums over the years, the New York City Police Department (NYCPD) via the "Stonewall Cops" have acknoweledged that the police picked the wrong day in the wrong city to raid a Gay bar on the night day of the funeral of the patron saint of Gay people:  Judy Garland!

Simmering for months was, really years, a potent ingredient for a Gay uprising was that an active contingency of the Stonewall's Gay people patrons decided, without discussion, to "come out of the closet" in unison as a group.  Thus was "Gay Unity" at its best!  One of the many immediate positive results was that the secret "Gay World" was no longer just mainly an underground subculture.  And, "Gay people", with a capital "G", at last achieved 'minority status' as a legitimate group of people.  The Stonewall Rebellion ushered in an everlasting social change movement that expanded from Christopher Street to the World!             

One year later on the last Sunday of June in 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion was celebrated with the very first Gay Pride March -- anywhere -- in Manhattan of New York.  The organization arranging the march was known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee.  Many participants were original members of the STONEWALL Veterans' Association.   

 

 


   1969:  The New York Daily News finally 'reports' on the SW-Rebellion -- days later  

"Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad"


==STONEWALL Newzletta Editorial on the Stupid write-up in Daily News== 

This New York Daily News writer/liar Jerry "Jerrie Ann" Lisker's last name should be "Schmuck".  He/it is an azzhole!  He/it totally missed the history-making significance of this famous Gay liberation event in the worldwide Civil Rights Movement.  Many of the sleazy author's demeaning words and ludicrous statements are clearly intended to insult and marginalize the entire GLBT community.  He makes a mockery of Gay history!  For example, referring to a transgendered person, "She was so upset that she didn't bother to shave."  How un-funny!  Beisdes, don't think for a moment that any real D/Q would ever do that... they wouldn't.  "A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake make-up...."  Again, ridiculous!  Was he there?  Obviously, not!  This closet bitch "paperback writer" must be talking about her own damn self -- or her papa!  And his stupid guess-wrong lie:  "All hell broke loose when the police entered The Stonewall Club".  Of course -- not!  Nothing 'broke loose' in the club.  They had guns; we didn't.  People were stunned at the siege and rightfully afraid.  In fact, if anything, it was basically calm inside The Stonewall Club because no one really knew what was going on other than originally thinking that it was a routine raid -- stay still, be quiet and the cops will leave.  The bitchy witchy authoress then attempts to make a hideous mockery of Gay Rights.  That's why the S.V.A. didn't post the other even worse seventy-five percent of her mostly trashy story.  Imagine what he would snidely and bad jokingly write about Rosa Parks and the Black Civil Rights Movement?!
   
   

 

SVA's pamphlet "The History of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion"

   

STONEWALL Newzletta:  A special four-paged pamphlet created and 
coordinated by the S.V.A. for distribution to visitors at The Stonewall Club 

   

 

Stonewall Rebellion Cartoon

 

 

           1994:  "Stonewall 25" Tribute to the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion

The International Stonewall Committee ("ISC") disrespectfully and foolishly consisted of no actual veterans of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion .  It was a power grab for steraling "Stonewall" from the rightful owners!  The ISC rudely never requested or accepted any factual information from the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A."), people who actually know the facts.  Therefore, the ISC recklessly and knowingly published and distributed a piece of, frankly, self-serving, story-telling literature laden with fried falsehoods, misleading misinformation and over-spiced with hyperbole.  Their very first sentence is significantly and tellingly wrong!  The first night of the rebellion started late Friday, June 27th -- not "early morning" (that would have been the 28th).  The customers were not all "thrown out" of the bar one by one.  Many patrons were, in fact, not released and against their will.  In fact, no one was literally "thrown out" as was implied!  The SW-25 Committee missed one of the key factual points.  On the contrary, some -- precisely 13 -- patrons were actually arrested and taken to jail with many court appearances down the pike -- not just told to go (if only they were)!  A reality check proves that none of those arrested were drag queens.  That is a much later Stonewall myth.  

      

 

1997:  S.V.A.'s Plans for a Stonewall Rebellion Monument

S.V.A. promotional and fund-raiser Letter for a Stonewall Veterans Memorial

The Stonewall Rebellion Monument has been designed by Dahn Hiuni.

   

   

   

Statues in Sheridan Triangle Park:  Gay Guys Couple and Gay Girls Couple
[Photo in 1999 by Stonewall vet Bob DeSantis]

Most people think that these two sets of Gay couple statues represent the Stonewall Rebellion.  They do not!  They represent Gay rights.  This is another reason why the S.V.A. is spear-heading the Gay campaign to erect something that actually commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion which began actual "Gay Power", "Gay Rights", "Gay Marriage" and sometimes "Gay Unity".  

   

 

=====Communication with Stonewall=====
Your organization, association, school or you can e-mail the STONEWALL Veterans' Association at:
 SVA@STONEWALLvets.org
with questions, comments, suggestions and/or compliments. 

You can call the SVA's 24/7/365 phone line at:  (212) 6-27-1969.  
Be sure to leave your full name, organization, phone number and, 
the full purpose of your communication -- if you want a call back! 

Did you observe that the SVA's actual phone number 6-27-1969 is 
the date of first night of the Stonewall Rebellion on June 27, 1969






  STONEWALL Veterans' Association  *  Monthly Meeting Notice


   






SVA business card

 

 


Contributions and dues to the non-profit organization may be mailed to:

STONEWALL Veterans' Association
Suite 120
70-A Greenwich Avenue
Manhattan, New York
10011

*

The historic Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender ("GLBT") civil rights and mainly. but not exclusively, GLBT educational, non-profit STONEWALL Veterans' Association, historically and legally known as the S.V.A., is duly-registered since the Summer of 1969 and annually renews its non-profit status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the State of New York Charities Bureau.  
www.OAG.state.ny.us/Charities.html

Search Enter >>>>>  STONEWALL Veterans Association 

   *

=====Gay Marriage - the Movement started at Stonewall!=====

American Gay History - May 12, 2013 -- New York became the sixth American state with a Gay Marriage Equality law in 2011!  This was a Stonewall dream come true!  Since then six more states have made Gay Marriage legal.  (See below.)  The Gay Marriage movement started as a direct result of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.  Protest signs included "Gay Power", "Gay Rights" and "Gay Marriage".  There would be no Gays marrying same-gender Gays if not for Stonewall!  The Marriage Equality law in New York, proudly signed by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (a longtime supporter of the S.V.A.), officially commenced with worldwide fanfare on Sunday (marriage bureaus and clerks' offices specially opened), July 24th, 2011, throughout the great state of New York!!  The other twelve American Marriage Equality states (updated as of June 26, 2013) are as follows (chronologically):  Massachusetts (MA), Connecticut (CT), New Hampshire (NH), Vermont (VT), Iowa (IA), Washington (WA), Maine (ME), Michigan (MI), Delaware (DE), Rhode Island (RI), Minnesota (MN) and California (CA) {reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court} -- plus the District of Columbia (DC).  The following countries democratically and proudly have Gay Marriage laws (alphabetically):  Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands, the progressive first nation to sanction Gay marriage!  In Israel, Gay marriage is recognized but not religiously performed.  In Mexico, in certain jurisdictions, Gay marriage is legal.   

*

"S.V.A. 's 44th Annual Conference 
& Stonewall Veterans Reunion
"
 
Saturday, June 29th, 2013 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

at the New York City Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Center
in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, New York.

The S.V.A. has a welcoming table with a mandatory sign-in "S.V.A. Guest
 Book".  To gain entry, e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y signs it legibly and with some
contact 411 such as phone number and/or email address.  While there
 is no required charge, contributions/dues are welcomed for the non-profit,
many-purposed, multi-functional STONEWALL Veterans' Association.

The yearly educational and unique event features actual veterans of the
original Stonewall Club and the Stonewall Rebellion.  Special guests include
New York City public officials, Gay organization leaders such as from 
the Imperial QUEENS of New York, Marriage Equality USA, PRIDE
Democrats, GLBTS Political Coalition, et al. and many non-Gay
community heads and non-Gay groups.

The program includes a panel of actual veterans of the 1969 Stonewall.  
An opportunity is given the audience with a questions and answers session.
S.V.A. literature and other group brochures are distributed to all attendees.

Entertainment includes the legendary and 'live' Gay singer and songwriter
Sandy Rapp from New York City!  Finale entertainment is by the 
legendary all-female and all-Gay band The Deadly Nightshade

"Songs Of The Stonewall Club", created by SVA's founder Williamson 
Henderson, are played at the beginning, during intermission and at the end
of the program.  The finale song from The Stonewall Club, then and now 
tonight, is the beautiful, timeless and inspiring 'Gay National Anthem' by
Miss Connie Francis:  "Where The Boys Are"!

Light foods and beverages are provided complementary by the S.V.A.

*


20 March

2014

*


==2014:  45th Anniversary of the Gay Stonewall Rebellion==
 [Friday night, 27 June ~through~ Thursday evening, 3 July 1969]

*

The symbolic background color of lavender is for year-round Gay Pride!

   

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