View Full Version : Why don't you guys do something?!!
01-05-2009, 01:19 AM
In June it will be forty years since that angry lesbian was handcuffed and dragged kicking and screaming to the squad car. Twice she got free and tried to run back into the Stonewall Inn. And twice the cops tackled her and dragged her back to the car.
LGBT people in New York City had been harassed, dehumanized, beaten, and arrested for decades and until June 27th, 1969 they had never done anything about it. But that hot June night forty years ago, everything changed and would never be the same again for LGBT Americans.
Nobody knows who this woman was. But witnesses say she was visiting a bar employee who was a friend when the police bar raid occurred that night. She was arrested and handcuffed for not wearing the three pieces of clothing correct for her gender according to New York law. But that night she decided that she had had enough and she wasn't going to take it anymore.
"Don't be so rough!" she yelled at the cops as they yanked her towards the front door. That's when one of the cops hit her with his billy club. From that point on she fought them all the way to the squad car fighting and cussing. One witness said, "There's no doubt about that, furious for whatever reason, she put up a fight. She was giving them their money's worth."
It took four police officers to get her to the squad car. In his 2004 book, Stonewall - the Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution author David Carter says, "As the heroic fight by the lesbian who had twice escaped the car neared it's end, the crowd erupted."
"Why don't you guys do something?!!" she shouted to the crowd of hundreds just before the cops bodily threw her into the car. In Carter's book, a witness said that the woman's fighting "set the whole crowd wild - beserk!"
Other witnesses agree that it was the lesbian's struggle with the police that ignited the riot. "It was at that moment that the scene became explosive," one man said. At that moment "the turning point came."
Someone took a knife and slashed all four tires on the police car. Others started throwing bricks and trashcans. The mob's anger exploded. "That's when the police backed down and barricaded themselves in the Stonewall," Carter writes in his book.
For the next five hours four-hundred LGBT people rioted outside the Stonewall Inn trying to get inside the bar and at the police. Carter writes, "A general assault now began on the Stonewall Inn using anything and everything the crowd outside could get it's hands on; garbage, garbage cans, pieces of glass, fire, bricks, cobblestones, and an improvised battering ram were all used to attack the police held up inside the Stonewall Inn."
"Everybody in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us. All kinds of people, all different reasons, but mostly it was total outrage, anger, sorrow, everything combined. "
By daybreak LGBT people in New York City knew that things would never be the same again.
Forty years have passed and nobody knows who that angry woman was who fought the police that night. She has never come forward to take credit for her heroic actions. But the words she shouted at the crowd for gays to fight back ignited a revolution and we've been fighting back ever since.
01-07-2009, 10:08 AM
Here's an editorial from 30 years ago from Boston's Gay Community News in the June 23rd, 1979 edition of the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots:
A Stonewall Nation
Stonewall means fighting back. In the past ten years gay people have begun fighting back: in the cities and in small towns, in the courts and legislatures, and in the streets. The fights have been local, the leaders unconnected, the movements disparate. Slowly we have begun to develop a national consciousness, a sense of common identity. We made contact with each other in the Dade County fight and in raising money to defeat the Briggs Initiative. Now we are creating a national grass roots organizing and mobilization structure to plan the March on Washington.
As we reach out and support one another, we find ourselves with symbols, our literature grows, we develop mythology. Anita Bryant has become a symbol of the Right; the Dan White verdict is violence against each of us; and the riots in San Francisco are seized as the second Stonewall Rebellion. We have a romantic vision and see ourselves fighting together towards common goals. But we must examine our culture, scrutinize our romantic vision, and make sure the symbols we have developed are the symbols we need.
The gay movement has used Stonewall as a symbol of gay men fighting back - we must take this symbol back if it is to be our own. Women participated in the riots. Stonewall must come to mean lesbians and gay men fighting back against oppression, passionately and together.
We are a nation across lines of gender and color and language and class because of our common identity as queers. What we have in common is our sexuality and our oppression. We have been trained to hate ourselves, and we still feel guilty because we as women love women and we as men love men. We are different and separate in all other aspects. Our unity is hard-won and limited. As a nation we are divided and struggling. But our culture, which means taking back our language, which means altering the power structure, which means changing our sexual dynamics and liberating ourselves from thousands of years of control, is most alive in ideological struggle. As we create our mythology, as we do with Stonewall today, we must recognize the difference which separate us and celebrate that which unites us in constant struggle.
Gay Community News - June 23, 1979
(no name was attached to the article)
Gay Community News began as a Boston gay newspaper in 1973. In the late seventies it became a major newspaper and expanded nationally with gay news from across the nation and the world. Arsonists burned down the newspaper's office in June 1982 but the staff found a new location immediately and the paper continued to print in July of that year. The newspaper finally went out of business in 1992.
06-11-2009, 01:32 AM
The story about the angry lesbian is noted in Wikipedia's history on the Stonewall riots that occurred 40 years ago in New York City.
"A scuffle broke out when a woman in handcuffs was escorted from the door of the bar to the waiting police wagon several times. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting, for about ten minutes. Described as "a typical New York butch" and "a dyke—stone butch", she had been hit on the head by an officer with a billy club for, as one witness claimed, complaining that her handcuffs were too tight. Bystanders recalled that the woman, whose identity remains unknown, sparked the crowd to fight when she looked at bystanders and shouted, "Why don't you guys do something?" After an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the wagon, the crowd became a mob and went "berserk": "It was at that moment that the scene became explosive".
06-11-2009, 01:50 AM
This is an excerpt from David Carter's book, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution
"There is no doubt that, furious for whatever reason, she put up a fight. Yates says , “She was giving them their money’s worth,” and remembers that there were three or four policemen on her. She fought them all the way from the Stonewall Inn’s entrance to the back door of a waiting police car. Once inside the police car, she slid back out and battled the police all the way to the Stonewall Inn’s entrance."
"As the heroic fight by the lesbian who had twice escaped the car neared the end, the crowd erupted. The anonymous author of the letter wrote that the woman’s fighting “set the crowd wild - berserk!” Both the Voice reporters are agreed that it was the lesbian’s struggle with the police that ignited the riot."
06-11-2009, 02:05 AM
Leslie Feinberg says in the 2006 article about Stonewall titled, Stonewall 1969: ‘Turning point of rage’:
"........when the police forced this butch lesbian into the police car for the third time, “the turning point came.”
06-11-2009, 02:41 AM
I find it amazing that of the 32 years I've been involved in the LGBT movement that it wasn't until 2009 that I first heard the story of the angry lesbian at Stonewall. And the reason the story fascinates me so much is that when she screamed to the crowd, "Why don't you guys do something!?" those words became the pivotal point in the modern LGBT movement because it was at that point that the crowd exploded. The riot at the Stonewall Inn that night in June 1969 turned a small movement into a revolution that continues to this day.
All the LGBT marches on Washington, all the gay pride parades, all the protests and demonstrations and organizations and internet groups, all the lobbing to legislatures, all the openly gay or lesbian elected officials, all the millions of LGBT people who have bravely come out to their friends and family, and all the many LGBT people who have fallen in love in the past four decades may have never happened if not for that one angry lesbian who shouted those five words on that hot summer night forty years ago.
"Why don't you guys do something!?"
06-11-2009, 10:06 AM
Where would we be without Stonewall?
Even before the Stonewall riots there was a small movement of brave gay and lesbian activists struggling for equality. It was an extremely slow and frustrating struggle however and most LGBT people were too apathetic or afraid to become involved.
The incident at the Stonewall Inn changed that overnight. The riots on June 28th, 1969 instantly propelled the movement forward. Word of the riots spread throughout the national LGBT community and within months organizations began popping up all across the country.
Harvey Milk who had been living in New York City in 1969 had been inspired by the people who fought back at the Stonewall Inn. In the early 70s Milk moved to the Castro in San Francisco and became a charismatic activist and leader for gay equality there making national headlines. His assassination in 1978 galvanized the national movement ever further.
By 1979, just ten years after the Stonewall riots, 100,000 LGBT people marched on Washington demanding equality. Lesbian activist Robin Tyler gave a moving speech at the rally and became a leader in the national movement. Thirty years later she remains a significant force in the fight for marriage equality in California.
But what if Stonewall had never happened? Where would we be now? Would the small movement for equality in the 50s and 60s have brought us to where we are today?
If the Stonewall riots hadn't happened when they did and on a scale of that size (there were 400 to 500 people involved in the riots the first night) the movement may have crawled into the 70s at a snail's pace. If the small "homophile" movement as they called it then, had been insignificant to the national media, Anita Bryant may have never begun her campaign against gays in Florida and there would have been no galvanizing of the national LGBT community in 1977. The first march on Washington may have not occurred until 2000 or later. Harvey Milk may have never left his job on Wall Street and moved to San Francisco. Robin Tyler may have never become involved in LGBT activism until much later in life. Mel White may never been moved to speak out for LGBT rights.
There may be no PFLAG, no Human Rights Campaign, no Soulforce. Millions of LGBT people may still be in the closet living lives of quiet desperation.
I suppose another riot or incident where gays fought back could have eventually occurred at another time. But would it have had the impact that Stonewall had? Who knows?
But Stonewall did happen and the event in New York that night has directly effected my life. Five years after Stonewall in 1974 while I was living in Minneapolis and struggling with my homosexuality I was seriously considering seeing a psychiatrist who (at that time) may have steered me in the wrong direction of reparative therapy. Fortunate for me and my future I came across a book written by a Stonewall veteran, Peter Fisher.
Fisher wrote about the "New Homosexual" saying that the "Stonewall Rebellion" had given birth to a more militant and aggressively visible liberation movement. "The years of hiding and hating myself and putting up with things and hurting and lying and wanting to scream ripped through me and exploded," he wrote.
"Oppression in any form requires the complicity of the oppressor. To come out is to refuse to oppress oneself, refuse to play the game. To come out is to assert one's validity and equality and to declare that one will defend them. It is the only real form of self-respect."
Stonewall influenced my coming out in 1974 to my college roommates and close friends and eventually my family. It had a direct effect on my self-acceptance and happiness in life. To that I am deeply grateful.
I think we are all descendants of Stonewall. Every time we open up to someone about our sexual orientation or join an organization for LGBT equality or attend a protest, we are fighting back against oppression. We are saying to ourselves and to others, "I'm not going to take it anymore," just as they did in New York City forty years ago this month.
"We would never have been in the closet in the first place if we had not allowed others to make our moral decisions for us.
Freedom must be chosen." - Peter Fisher 1972
Me and John in 1979 - Ten years after Stonewall
06-24-2009, 06:15 PM
Top Stonewall Cop says "Raid" was Right
From the Advocate News:
Nearly 40 years to the day have passed since the Stonewall riots that sparked the modern LGBT rights movement, but the New York City police officer who led the pivotal bar raid in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, maintains that the operation had little to do with gay people, and everything to do with following orders.
Read the entire article here --->http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid92968.asp
06-27-2009, 03:30 PM
Newly Obtained Documents Reveal Name of Woman Arrestee and Names of Three Men Arrestees:
Marilyn Fowler, Vincent DePaul, Wolfgang Podolski, and Thomas Staton
Read arrest report here ---> http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Stonewall_Riot_Police_Reports,_June_28,_1969
06-29-2009, 07:38 PM
Like the civil rights movement, the Stonewall Riots were destined to happen. People were tired of oppression, harassment, and being made to feel like second class citizens. When you think about a lot of people felt that way. Women, drag queens, blacks, Latinos, Latinas, transsexuals, straights, people in the arts. If these events didn't happen, we would still be harassed and oppressed today.
Another lesser known riot happened in 1966 in San Francisco. Transgender, street people, people of color, and drag queens fought the cops when they were being arrested. If anything the 1960's demonstrated how much power people had, even if they didn't know that it was in them. That same spirit is needed today. The issues may be different but the needs are still the same.
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