Leaders

Many attribute the uprising of Stonewall to the drag queens and transgender present the night of the raid 50 years ago. Today much of our leadership is inspired by those same members of our diverse community.

Diversity and acceptance are character qualities I support, admire and strive toward. I applaud those who step up and out, to lead us through living their own truth. It is through their vulnerability that courage and strength are born.

Thank you to Peppermint, Lady Bunny and Sasha Velour for your inspiration and leadership.

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Harvey Milk

Trailblazer.

Harvey’s foray into politics followed closely after Stonewall yet it took him several tries to finally get elected into office. However as he did, he blazed a trail. Like those who took a stand the night of Stonewall and into the days that followed, Harvey took a stand and he persevered.

Neither the rioters nor Harvey knew where their new paths would lead, yet look where we are today. Let us make all of them proud and continue our march forward. America and the whole world can only be great if we keep moving forward toward better horizons of understanding, respect and equality. It’s up to us as there is much left to do.

Christopher Street West

While Stonewall is commemorated as the flash point into LGBTQI activism and equality, LGBTQI history is diverse and lengthy.

This short documentary gives a glimpse into the life and movement out here on the west coast prior to, during and after Stonewall.

We have come a long way, yet we have a long way ahead of us as well.

Lifting us all up

This is a wonderful video of someone sharing their own story about the experience of being there at the Stonewall uprising.

Fearsome highly recommends everyone clicking play.

Jay, Thank You for sharing your story and for walking the path leading us all to better and lifting us as a community. You are an inspiration.

Be true to yourself, be who you are

It was late June 1969, a few pissed off queens had finally had enough.

This is a transcript of the above article below:

Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad

The New York Daily News, July 6, 1969
By JERRY LISKER

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. “We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over,” lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

“We’ve had all we can take from the Gestapo,” the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. “We’re putting our foot down once and for all.” The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

The thick glass shut out the outside world of the street. Inside, the Stonewall bathed in wild, bright psychedelic lights, while the patrons writhed to the sounds of a juke box on a square dance floor surrounded by booths and tables. The bar did a good business and the waiters, or waitresses, were always kept busy, as they snaked their way around the dancing customers to the booths and tables. For nearly two years, peace and tranquility reigned supreme for the Alice in Wonderland clientele.

The Raid Last Friday

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn’t protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn’t want him to see her this way, she wept.

Queen Power

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

Urged on by cries of “C’mon girls, lets go get’em,” the defenders of Stonewall launched an attack. The cops called for assistance. To the rescue came the Tactical Patrol Force.

Flushed with the excitement of battle, a fellow called Gloria pranced around like Wonder Woman, while several Florence Nightingales administered first aid to the fallen warriors. There were some assorted scratches and bruises, but nothing serious was suffered by the honeys turned Madwoman of Chaillot.

Official reports listed four injured policemen with 13 arrests. The War of the Roses lasted about 2 hours from about midnight to 2 a.m. There was a return bout Wednesday night.

Two veterans recently recalled the battle and issued a warning to the cops. “If they close up all the gay joints in this area, there is going to be all out war.”

Bruce and Nan

Both said they were refugees from Indiana and had come to New York where they could live together happily ever after. They were in their early 20’s. They preferred to be called by their married names, Bruce and Nan.

“I don’t like your paper,” Nan lisped matter-of-factly. “It’s anti-fag and pro-cop.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t see what they did to the Stonewall. Did the pigs tell you that they smashed everything in sight? Did you ask them why they stole money out of the cash register and then smashed it with a sledge hammer? Did you ask them why it took them two years to discover that the Stonewall didn’t have a liquor license.”

Bruce nodded in agreement and reached over for Nan’s trembling hands.

“Calm down, doll,” he said. “Your face is getting all flushed.”

Nan wiped her face with a tissue.

“This would have to happen right before the wedding. The reception was going to be held at the Stonewall, too,” Nan said, tossing her ashen-tinted hair over her shoulder.

“What wedding?,” the bystander asked.

Nan frowned with a how-could-anybody-be-so-stupid look. “Eric and Jack’s wedding, of course. They’re finally tieing the knot. I thought they’d never get together.”

Meet Shirley

“We’ll have to find another place, that’s all there is to it,” Bruce sighed. “But every time we start a place, the cops break it up sooner or later.”

“They let us operate just as long as the payoff is regular,” Nan said bitterly. “I believe they closed up the Stonewall because there was some trouble with the payoff to the cops. I think that’s the real reason. It’s a shame. It was such a lovely place. We never bothered anybody. Why couldn’t they leave us alone?”

Shirley Evans, a neighbor with two children, agrees that the Stonewall was not a rowdy place and the persons who frequented the club were never troublesome. She lives at 45 Christopher St.

“Up until the night of the police raid there was never any trouble there,” she said. “The homosexuals minded their own business and never bothered a soul. There were never any fights or hollering, or anything like that. They just wanted to be left alone. I don’t know what they did inside, but that’s their business. I was never in there myself. It was just awful when the police came. It was like a swarm of hornets attacking a bunch of butterflies.”

A reporter visited the now closed Stonewall and it indeed looked like a cyclone had struck the premisses.

Police said there were over 200 people in the Stonewall when they entered with a warrant. The crowd outside was estimated at 500 to 1,000. According to police, the Stonewall had been under observation for some time. Being a private club, plain clothesmen were refused entrance to the inside when they periodically tried to check the place. “They had the tightest security in the Village,” a First Division officer said, “We could never get near the place without a warrant.”

Police Talk

The men of the First Division were unable to find any humor in the situation, despite the comical overtones of the raid.

“They were throwing more than lace hankies,” one inspector said. “I was almost decapitated by a slab of thick glass. It was thrown like a discus and just missed my throat by inches. The beer can didn’t miss, though, “it hit me right above the temple.”

Police also believe the club was operated by Mafia connected owners. The police did confiscate the Stonewall’s cash register as proceeds from an illegal operation. The receipts were counted and are on file at the division headquarters. The warrant was served and the establishment closed on the grounds it was an illegal membership club with no license, and no license to serve liquor.

The police are sure of one thing. They haven’t heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street.

“We May have lost the battle, but the war is far from over”.

Fifty years later, thanks to some courageous individuals, the world is a better place. I salute them with deep gratitude. Today, because of their lead, many battles have been won …but the war is far from over.

Learn to Fly

Connection:

Life:

Connection enriches life. Life connects us. We are sharing a common experience right now. We learn, love, teach, understand, support, share, laugh, cry, hold, grow and feel.

We…

Feel.

I pause to feel. I pause to experience. I pause to connect. I pause to…

Wow, just beautifully fucking powerful wow.

May I learn to fly today, today right where I am.

…and may I have a sense of humor that I might not take myself too seriously…

Life, let’s live it …and together may we have a fabulous day.

I needed love today

Life.

Life comes at you.

Don’t get me wrong, life is good…good overall, but damn it can come at you.

I’ve had so many wonderful things happen to me in the past month, and I’ve had some confusing and bewildering things happen as well. I sure haven’t posted much and I have some great things to post about (such as an in person meeting with not one but three dear blogger friends…hint…it was in Philly). Overwhelm describes my loss of words, organization and time to actually sit and post. I need to post for me and my mental health so I start here.

I need  love today. I went in search of inspirational video to perhaps jar me into some sort of clarity. Below is the video that appeared when I clicked over to you tube. The message of love, of peace and of hope is exactly what I needed.

Hope

This guy is raising the bar higher every day. We all will benefit from his just being part of this democratic primary.

He has gone from someone I watched out of curiosity to someone who has my support. I made my first campaign contribution to any candidate this election cycle by donating to him just before the end of the first quarter. Today I bought his book.

Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or does this guy make sense?

If you aren’t familiar with Pete Buttigieg check him out.

At this point I believe in hearing all possible candidates. A few are standing out. In my book Pete is one of those stand outs.

Clawing out

Sometimes, in order to get out of a hole that which I have found myself, it feels as if I am clawing my way out of the darkness even though I cannot see any light. I have found that as I claw my way it is important for me to be open to see any cracks, or even pin holes, of light and appreciate these as inspiration to keep clawing my way out. Keep clawing even if these pin holes aren’t the solution or direction in which I should go.

Inspiration lifts me. I must allow it to do so.

The pit of darkness in which I have found myself is of my own making. I make it through overwhelm due to the choices I make as to how I perceive the world around me. Choices as to how I react to others, to politics, to situations, to emotions, to comments, to work, to stress, to joy, to sadness, to love, to criticism, to direction, to you, to my thoughts, to weather, to …

Perception, like everything else in our revolving universe, cycles. This, too, shall pass.

I can choose to hasten this passing by allowing little things to lift me. This morning I choose to allow my locality of living’s politics to shine a pin hole of light inspiration into my life as I claw my way back into the light in which I prefer to live.

As I sit in the United lounge in the San Diego airport awaiting my delayed flight out I read our local paper. To my delight below the coverage of last nights national prime time spectacle of absurd news, I find that my local government has voted to take it upon themselves to assist the asylum seekers awaiting at the international border into our city.

Pin hole of light I see.

I allow it to uplift me.

I smile. I feel better.

I believe that good overpowers bad. I believe that love beats hate. I believe that kindness conquers intolerance. I believe that light eliminates darkness.

I believe that vulnerability allows us to be seen as we truly are, as the truly the imperfect flawed beings that we are. I believe that through exposing our own vulnerability we demonstrate the courage it takes to be, to be ourselves.

I am me and I’m not perfect. However I am worthy, I am courageous, I am beautiful,  I am and I can.

I can do anything. Right now I make a choice. I choose light.

Whole Hearted

Living. Living life to the fullest.

Experiencing, learning, growing, loving, giving, sharing, teaching, risking…

Those who put themselves out there, those who risk, live.

I believe that those who expose themselves for who they really are, those who allow themselves to be vulnerable, live. They live life to the fullest. They live life with a whole heart.

Hearts were meant to be broken or else they wouldn’t break. Love.

Gifts were meant to be given and shared because if they were selfishly hoarded they wouldn’t be gifts, but would be burdens. Give.

Lessons and experiences only have value to enrich others when taught. Teach.

If one isn’t growing, one is dying. Grow.

Without risk there is nothing. Risk.

Will there be pain? Yes

Will there be joy? Yes

If we couldn’t feel pain, we wouldn’t feel joy. Feel.

To get to the other side of anything, we must walk through it. Experience.

My brain thinks. My heart loves, my heart gives, my heart shares, my heart teaches, my heart experiences, my heart risks, my heart feels, my heart grows, my heart lives!

I choose to live whole heartedly from this moment on. To live, live with my whole heart.

Radio Blessings

While driving to the gym today, a treasured song from my past found it’s way from the satellite airwaves through my car speakers onto my eardrums. As my tympanic membranes vibrated to the rhythms, and the vestibulochoclear nerve impulses transferred the information to my brain, my emotions became full of overwhelm. The flood of sadness, grief, warmth, joy, hope, gratitude and rage resulted in a stream of mixed emotional tears into the softness of Fearsome Beard.

Memories enveloped me.

I’m a survivor. I never contracted the HIV virus.

I graduated high school as a very sexually active young homosexual male. I had a ball. I even attended an all night orgy the night before my high school graduation. It was the early 1980s after all and I was a young adult. I was 18. I was one of 4 students who spoke on that graduation day before our class of 500 students. I give you, my dear reader, such a graphic example for a reason.

There was an unknown threat surrounding us males of the homosexual persuasion. A threat unknown to any of us. Even unknown to men 10, 20, 30 or more years my senior.

Apparently sometime during the sexual revolution of the 1970s a virus had turned up in our population. An undetected virus that was just about to reach a critical mass infection that would soon wreak havoc on our community.

We didn’t know. We had fun. We loved. We partied. We fucked.

Love is Love is Love is Love.

It was then. It is today. Yet then we had no idea what was about to happen, and then it did happen.

Those rare cases of an immune deficiency ticked up. They ticked up in the gay community of the U.S. and suddenly we had a syndrome. It was first named GRID. Gay Related Immune Deficiency they called it. GRID was rare. GRID was seen only in large cities. GRID didn’t affect us in smaller towns. Yet it was there, we just didn’t know it yet.

Keep in mind this was the early to mid 1980s. Safe sex wasn’t yet a known practice. Gay men didn’t use condoms. Two men can’t get pregnant. No one yet knew that the virus was spreading nor how it was spreading.

As this virus did spread it showed up in a few other populations, but not in the numbers it did amoung gay men. Researchers soon discovered that it was transmissible, probably from a virus, and thus it was acquired. The name changed to AIDS or Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It was still rare, but starting to scare us. Then it started to happen. People around me started to get sick.

One of my favorite sexual partners, Jerry, came down with it. Jerry was 38, I was probably 20. Jerry was in his prime. Jerry was succesful, owned several homes and was stunningly handsome. Jerry became very ill. I was scared. I went to visit Jerry. He was thin, pale, had wierd dark cancerous spots on his skin and was short of breath. Jerry looked like hell. He offered me a drink. I said I wasn’t thirsty. I was actually afraid I would catch it from the glass. I couldn’t wait to leave. I never saw Jerry alive again.

Within about 5 years of the night of that orgy celebrating my high school graduation, with the exception of me, every single other person that was there had died. I can still see each of their faces and remember each of their names.

The 1980s for me was a war zone. It wasn’t “if” I would catch AIDS and die, it was when.

In 1990 I fell in love and moved away. Far away. Even though I moved far away, that virus was still here on the west coast. I never contracted that virus. I still haven’t today. I don’t know why I didn’t as I was never, nor did I ever become, no angel. Today the virus is called HIV. The deadly disease that is a result of HIV is AIDS.

My flood of emotion was gratitude that I am here. Gratitude that I ain’t never contracted HIV. Gratitude that I knew those wonderful men I lost, who were not only sexual partners, but mentors and friends. Grateful I loved. Grateful that I could hear Bruce Springsteen’s words. Grateful I could feel. That I could feel all the emotions pouring from me of grief, sadness, love, anger, joy, warmth, disappointment, hope, fear, gratitude and rage.

Fearsome Beard absorbed my tears. I made my way into the gym as a healthy, grateful, loving, kind and hopeful 50 something gay man. A man who was now far removed from the 1980s and far removed from the origin and experiences of the song and memories that had just overwhelmed me.

I will never forget those men whom I lost. I will never forget the times I went through. I’ll never forget the joy, laughter and tears. Those men and those experiences made me who I am today. I look forward to what is to come. I am forever grateful.

I love life. I love who I am. I have been blessed. I am blessed.

The Beginning

I start today like I start every day and that is with a choice:

Should I play the same record over and over or should I change my world?

Growth comes through change.

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life. All I have to do to change the world is to start by changing my mind.

 

“The Beginning”

This is the beginning of the record you like
Over and over, over and over!
This is the beginning of the record you like
Over and over, over and over!Breaking up, fading out,
Holding on until tomorrow!
Shake it off, turn around,
Won’t be long, till is a brand new day!

[Chorus:]
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life!
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life!

You better get it – get it (get – get) get it – get it – right – right
That was then, this is now.
Here we go starting over

That was then, this is now,
Here we go starting over!
You decide, change your mind,
Miracles happen every day!

[Chorus:]
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life!
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life!

You better get it – get it (get – get) get it – get it – right – right
That was then, this is now.
Here we go starting over

Change the world, change your mind,
We defy space and time!
Change the world, change your mind,
We defy space and time!
Change the world, change your mind,
We defy space and time!

[Chorus:]
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life!
This is the beginning, the beginning!
This is the beginning of the rest of your life