The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Sunday, June 28, 2009

40 Years Ago

Forty years ago today I was most likely at Wald Park swimming pool with my friends and my thoughts were most likely directed toward my upcoming written test and learner's permit that I was looking forward to. Can you say "Ford Falcon?"

But in New York City a landmark event took place on this date in 1969. The Stonewall Riots took place after police raided The Stonewall Inn (sometimes June 27 is named but the response to the raid really began in the early morning hours of the 28th). Here is how the Inn looked this week. It's really an unassuming little place, but it was packed the night we visited.

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was a gathering spot for gays, lesbians and transgender people and raids on such establishments were common. Bar owners were often tipped off about the raids, and the lights would come on and customers would stop any suggestive behavior before the raid began. Sometimes.

On this particular night the clientele got fed up and an uprising occurred. This account at Wikipedia is as good as any of what happened, with good pictures and links.

There is no doubt that the actions of those brave men and women began the movement which is finally beginning to see some progress (although slowly) with the Obama administration.

In New York at the Public Library next to Bryant Park is an exhibit titled 1969 The Year of Gay Liberation.

Inside, the exhibit is on the second floor.

Display cases hold letters written by activists and newspaper articles, photographs and mementos of the event and the following weeks. In runs through the end of June.

The Stonewall Inn is on Christopher Street and is across from Christopher Park, where homeless youth (probably kicked out of their homes for being gay) and others hung out. Now the park is clean and is home to George Segal's art piece titled "Gay Liberation" of a lesbian couple and a gay male couple. They are cast in bronze and painted white.

You might remember this park from the movie "Big Daddy." This is the park where Adam Sandler taught the kid to spit. But I digress. (And I will have to watch the movie again to confirm this).

This park has been a gay hangout for decades, and it is said that gay sailors sought R & R here during World War II.

Anyway, today is a day to reflect and to celebrate. We've come a long way, baby, but we've still got a long way to go.

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