Showing posts with label Stonewall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stonewall. Show all posts

May 28, 2014

Stonewall Mafia Owners and early Activists Story is sold to HBO

Adam Shankman Dave Kajganich Open City

New York of the late 1960s, the drama explores characters from disparate corners of Manhattan as they navigate the cultural revolutions and political turmoil of the era — including the unlikely alliance between the mafia and the city’s gay community in the opening of a West Village nightclub.
Both men will executive produce, with Kajganich writing and Shankman directing the project. Jennifer Gibgot will executive produce through hers and Shankman’s Offspring Entertainment. They have enlisted the help of Ronnie Lorenzo, a former mobster and one of the original owners of the Stonewall Inn, the Civil Rights era Greenwich Village tavern where a 1969 police raid resulted in rioting and helped inspire the LGBT movement. Lorenzo will serve as a consulting producer.
This deal comes after Offspring’s recent sale of three other cable projects under their overall with Warner Horizon. Those projects are at E!, Bravo and MTV.
Shankman and Gibgot are represented by UTA and Bloom Hergott. Kajganich is represented by UTA and Madhouse Entertainment.

February 6, 2014

Depending How the Athletes Handle the Olympics at Sochi it Could Be a Stonewall



When the Sochi Olympics begin later this week, it will provide an international platform for 
what promises to be both a controversial and politically charged conversation, but one having very little to do with the actual sports being played. Athletes may have tirelessly trained. Countries may have vigorously vied to host the games. And all eyes may be on Russia as the opening ceremony unfolds on Thursday, but the Achilles heel to these games isn’t whether or not the U.S. will be tough enough to take home the gold this year, but how LGBT rights will fare in a country that has been anything but gay-friendly.

As much as we may like to embrace the notion of good sportsmanship even in the most t
umultuous of times, truth is Russia’s crackdown on gay people (everything from same-sex partnerships to adoption, though technically it’s not “illegal” to be openly gay there) has already set off a firestorm of protests that are not expected to go away anytime soon, especially as the world’s gaze is set on Sochi
In fact, this year’s games, for as much as they are about sports and international camaraderie, also speak to what we have come expect from a world-class event. The question of whether Russia should even be hosting the games is a little too late to ask, but depending on how athletes and LGBT rights organizations handle this already sticky situation (will protests be permitted or will gay athletes be shunned – jailed even?), Sochi could easily become the Olympics’ answer to Stonewall.

November 17, 2013

NYC Historic Stone Wall in Danger of Burning

Fire two doors away from Historic Stone Wall Inn on Sheridan. As more details from local NYC Media and others come up, they will be posted here. 

June 28, 2011

The Riot of Stonewall. Know Your History as a Gay person

It was a just another hot, sticky night toward the end of June. The streets of Greenwich Village
 were filled with cruising men, displaced street youth, drug dealers and random musicians
trying to make a few bucks from small audiences. But when New York City’s Finest raided
 the Stonewall Inn in the early hours of June 28, something extraordinary happened.

 Police raids on the city’s gay bars took place all the time, but that night was different. That night people fought back. They were angry. Maybe it was because gay icon Judy Garland died two days earlier, or because the heat got to everyone. Or it just might have been that gays couldn’t take it any longer. But that evening, and for the next two evenings, Christopher Street was filled with gays, as well as the neighborhood’s more motley denizens, heckling, taunting, and at times engaging in physical exchanges with the police. It was the birth of a new era of queer life. But exactly what that new era was is up for debate.  

Stonewall, or rather the myth of Stonewall, has become an intrinsic parts of our history. It is a milestone and touchstone of gay freedom and revolution, but it has also become a millstone weighing us down with its historical burden. Have we, as a community, given such incredible weight to Stonewall, and turned it into a sentimental story of singular self-assertion, that we have actually distorted what it actually means, or might mean?

Maybe if we really understood the complexity of Stonewall – rethink it in the tangled web of late-1960s history from which it has too often been removed – we could see it for exactly what it was and better understand our relationship to it.

My own connection to Stonewall is complicated. At the time I was a 20-year-old college student across the river in Newark, New Jersey.
On the big night I was probably in New York for a hamburger and a double feature of
 art films. The following day I heard about the first riot, but figured that it was a one-
shot deal and never thought that the energy would be sustained – albeit greatly abated
 – over two more nights. But even then the event didn’t seem like front-page news, and
nobody called it a riot; it was slightly more than a minor skirmish with the police, the sort
 of thing that happened all the time on the hot city streets.

Although within weeks of the event I would become very involved in the new gay
 liberation movement, Stonewall did not mean much to me at the time. Nor, I must say,
does it mean a whole lot to me now. At Dartmouth College in March of 2009 – where
 I teach courses including ‘Introduction to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender
Studies’ – I found myself spending an entire class trying to get students to attach
less importance to the Stonewall riots and to see them in perspective.

It’s not so easy. Some students think Stonewall was simply the first gay pride parade
 with floats and an after-party. (I’m not sure why they think the word ‘riot’ is included.)
 Others imagine full-scale street fighting, and once a student asked me how many gay
 people died at the Stonewall Inn. Their more informed classmates understand the
 relatively small scale of the event but presume that its reverberations were felt
 immediately – the high-pitched scream heard around the world.
To understand Stonewall we need to place those valiant acts of street power and street
 theater into a larger historical perspective. The first fact I impress upon my students
 is that for almost 20 years before Stonewall the country saw the growth of a vibrant
homophile movement. The Mattachine Society, founded by Harry Hay in 1950, was the
 first gay rights organization in the US, followed five years later by the lesbian
 Daughters of Bilitis, founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. The Society of Individual
 Rights was founded in San Francisco in 1964 and the North American Conference of
Homophile Organizations came into being in 1966.

These groups completely changed the public discourse about homosexuality in the
 entire country. Without these homophile groups nothing that happened in 1969 and the
 years afterward would have been possible. In praising Stonewall, as we do now, we
all too often completely erase the profoundly important work that these groups did for
 nearly two decades. Stonewall was, in a very real sense, both a continuation of this
 work as well as a radical break from it, as it brought the very idea of homosexuality
from the realm of the private into the public world of the street and used anger,
not reason, as its impetus.

The second thing I try to impress on my students is that without the prevalence of
 the Vietnam War protests, without the women’s liberation movement, without the
 example of the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the counter culture’s mantra
of ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll,’ there would have been no Stonewall riots. There
would have been no gay liberation movement (at least not as it happened in 1969.)
The queens – and let’s remember that they were aided by the street people in the
Village, men and women we would now call homeless – rioted at Stonewall because
 everybody was rioting; they protested because everyone was protesting. The
 Stonewall riots were completely in sync with the crazy, frantic, angry, and yes,
sometimes heedless political activities – including the bombings by anti-war groups
 like the Weather Underground, as we were reminded of so frequently during this
 past election – of the late 1960s.  
The gay liberation movement was not made up of non-profit groups raising funds
and lobbying to enact laws. It was a grassroots movement, a groundswell of women
and men who had reached the breaking point. The first major gay activist group to
 form after Stonewall was the Gay Liberation Front -- a name borrowed from the
 Woman’s Liberation Front, which in turn borrowed it from the Vietnamese National
Liberation Front, which claimed the spirit and moniker of the Algerian National
 Liberation Front, which fought French domination in Northern Africa. The phrase
 ‘gay is good’ was derived from ‘black is beautiful.’ Gay power emerged naturally
from black power.
It wasn’t that we were copying other movements, but that we saw ourselves as part
of a broader struggle. Gay liberation was possible because the whole culture was
 being transformed and transfigured. Considering the enormous changes that took
place as a result of these movements, it truly was the second American Revolution.
There was a decisive break, and afterward things were different for gays, women,
people of color, and young people. It may not look like that now – or at least not
 all the time – but America changed in those years, and all for the better.

But even as I write this I feel that there are details missing. While all of these
connections are true – even as they are forgotten in most remembrances of
Stonewall – they lack concrete details and feel like radical rhetoric. So let’s look at
 exactly what was going on during the five years before Stonewall that, along with
the important work the homophile movement had done, set the stage for this
 remarkable event. As Bob Dylan sang in 1964, ‘The Times they are a-Changin’,’
 and when we look back at the massive cultural and political changes that were
occurring, it is impossible to imagine that Stonewall wasn’t inevitable.  
In March of 1964, Cesar Chavez and the grape pickers union called for the first
nationwide boycott of California grapes, while at the same time the University of
California Berkeley closed its campus in response to students demanding their
 right to speak out against the war in Vietnam. Later that month, the Supreme
Court granted married couples right to birth control. In response to an increasingly
 angry civil rights movement, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in June. Even
with this minor commitment to justice the next year ushered in a wave of violence.
In February of 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated, and while Congress passed the
Voting Rights Act guaranteeing federal protection for voter registration, August saw
the first truly serious race riots in Los Angeles in which almost 1,000 buildings in the
Watts neighborhood were looted, burned or destroyed. As if the world wasn’t mad
 enough, Harvard professor Timothy Leary urged Americans to ‘turn on, tune in,
drop out’ – the drug revolution hit the streets.
In 1966, race riots destroyed large sections of Chicago and three African-American
 teenagers were killed by National Guard troops. Things only got worse in 1967 as
 full-scale riots in Detroit and Newark, as well as serious conflicts in 33 other cities,
left 66 people dead and 10,000 more homeless. Antiwar protests escalated as the
US sent nearly half a million soldiers to Vietnam, many of them African-American
 men from the inner cities. On the domestic front, CBS ran a groundbreaking news
show called ‘The Homosexuals,’ which was the first time self-identified gays talked
 about their lives on television. In November, the Oscar Wilde Bookshop opened on
Mercer Street in Greenwich Village -- the first gay bookstore in the world.
 In April of 1968, the assassination of Martin Luther King led to riots across the
country that left 39 people dead and thousands of others hurt. Robert Kennedy
 was assassinated two months later. In the midst of this gays become more visible
when Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band opened on Broadway.
 Women’s liberation became increasingly visible when feminists staged a mass
 demonstration at the Miss America pageant in September. In the midst of this
upheaval it made perfect sense that a frightened America would elect Republican
 Richard Nixon to the presidency that November.

It was really only matter of time before gays got angry enough to start fighting back.
 Beginning in March of 1969, the New York Police Department stepped up its periodic
raids on gay bars; the June 28 raid on the Stonewall Inn was simply business as usual.
 After three nights of unrest women and men began to organize and weeks later the
 formation of the Gay Liberation Front was announced. The group was a direct, and
important, result of the Stonewall riots.

But Stonewall was not the end of this national narrative, just a small moment in time.
 Two months after the birth of the Gay Liberation Front, Students for a Democratic
 Society staged its largest national demonstrations. National protests against the
 war in Vietnam increased and in November an unprecedented quarter million
people marched on the Pentagon. Although inconceivable a decade earlier,
American society was in full-throttle revolt against racism, oppression of women,
sexual repression and the deadly foreign policies that were destroying lives in the
US and abroad. Is it any surprise that by the middle of 1970 there were already
 more than 300 independent chapters of the Gay Liberation Front across the country?
It wasn’t just that gay liberation was an idea whose time was ripe, but rather that in
 this context of multiple fights for massive social change it was an idea that
was inevitable.

What was incredible about the Gay Liberation Front, and what is so sorely missing
 from our gay rights movements now, is that it saw itself as a multi-issue radical

It was as concerned with ending wars abroad, fighting racism and securing
reproductive freedom for women as it was with fighting homophobia. Members
of the Gay Liberation Front also understood that they needed, pragmatically
and philosophically, to work in coalition with other movements.

 For me, as a young queer who had already been working with Students for
 a Democratic Society and had been involved in civil rights and women’s rights
 issues, gay liberation was a revelation that brought together all my political
 and emotional concerns.

The vision of the Gay Liberation Front linked freedom for gays to the freedom
 of all other oppressed groups. It is a vision that neither the homophile groups
 that preceded it nor the gay rights groups that followed understood or embraced.
 It is a lesson the gay rights movement just might be learning now.

The importance of Stonewall resides not in a sentimental vision of it as a sort
 of community coming-out story but in its unique place in the panoply of
 movements, events, riots, demonstrations, political actions, social revolts,
bad behaviors, and bursts of anger that defined the second half of the 1960s.
By all means, let’s celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall this month but
 let’s also remember that it is not just about gay equality; it is about the broadest
 vision of social change and social justice the US has experienced in our lifetimes.

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