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Thu Aug 20, 2015, 09:32 AM

Tearing Down the Walls [View all]

Stonewall marked a sharp break from the past and a qualitative turning point in the gay movement — not only because of the continuous rioting in the streets against police, but because activists were able to seize the moment and give an organized expression to the spontaneous uprising that encapsulated the militancy of the era. While the homophile movement made steady, if limited, progress throughout the 1950s and ’60s and laid the basis for the gay liberation movement, Stonewall broke the dam of political and social isolation and catapulted the gay movement out from the margins and into the open.

Activists didn’t waste a minute. Before the riots even finished, homophile militants Charles Pitts and Bill Katzenberg created a flyer and distributed it to thousands of Village residents. It read, “Do you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your sweet ass we are!” and described the Stonewall Rebellion as the “The hairpin drop heard around the world.”

Michael Brown, a gay socialist involved in the New Left who was at Stonewall and helped Pitts and Katzenberg pass out their flyers, reached out to the Mattachine Society after the first night of rioting in the hopes of calling for an organizing meeting to tap into the new momentum ...

Tearing Down the Walls

The story of the Stonewall Rebellion and the rise of the gay liberation movement.
by Keegan O'Brien 8-20-15

Forty-six years ago patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a popular New York City gay bar, fought back against abusive police, and in doing so launched the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement.

With the historic Supreme Court ruling in June declaring gay marriage the law of the land in all fifty states, it’s undeniable that we’ve come a long way from a time when cops routinely raided gay bars, and being outed virtually guaranteed a person would be labeled a sexual psychopath, blacklisted, and legally barred from employment in most occupations. It’s no exaggeration that many of the freedoms experienced by queer people today would have been inconceivable just a generation or two ago.

However, LGBTQ people still face oppression: a lack of protection in employment and housing, youth homelessness, bullying and high suicide rates, violence against trans women (disproportionally trans women of color), incarceration, police brutality, and poverty. Mainstream LGBTQ organizations (what some radicals refer to as Gay Inc.) are tied to corporate America and prefer to cozy up to the political establishment rather than confront it ...


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