Sunday, 28 June 2009

Stonewall 40 years on

History has a way of miscasting what actually happened, some get marginalised, erased, misrepresented and so on. Especially when the revolution was not televised.

It was not the first riot and police harassment continues to this day if perhaps not in such a blatant manner.

Some comments around this event state it was the birth of the gay rights (sic) movement but there were groups and campaigners before perhaps rather unfairly criticised. They were portrayed as older and conservative homosexual groupings.

Understandably there was an element of frustration yet the work of activists like Harry Hay, to name but one are ignored or dismissed. It was just a case of right place (the centre of the major US news media and influential fringe publications), right time. That placed it above other notable events like the Gene Compton's Cafeteria riot, a few years before.

The riots do seem in the following years to have been spun. The ethnicity whitened which possibly makes the attempt to link the campaign for gay marriage with the civil rights movement look even more disingenuous as well as offending black allies and alienating minority lgbt. Trans elements were marginalised as were lesbians it seems. There was no radical movement for trans peoples in the aftermath and things have been slightly touchy with some in the US ever since. As for lesbians I have great sympathy for the suggestion that it was the gender equality movement which provided the impetus.

Then again it probably does not matter whether it was a "drag queen", lesbian or green eyed reptile who cast the first stone it is the symbolic nature and the name which resonates throughout the world.


  1. Nice one, Lucy.

    Mind you, the trans community in the US does not do too badly when it comes to support from the GLB movement there. Witness the recent Sacremento radio fracas.

    Can anyone here see the UK's GLB pressure groups making a similar stand on our behalf? I can't, certainly not at the moment.

    I agree that the US movement has its problems, but our own are far worse.

    The UK's own history of organised GLBT pressure groups does not go back a long way and, certainly as far as the G & L side was concerned, in its early stages the movement was immediately hi-jacked by a single political party.

    This was mainly because the groups were largely centered in London, where a far-left council leader held sway.

    This partisanship was NOT a good thing, because from then on LGBT rights became a party-political football.

    The UK's Stonewall (I always thought taking that name was SUCH a cheek) is, and always has been, a Labour party movement. They didn't come along until around 1989, very late in the day.

    Before then the only truly vocal group were the radical lesbian feminists, who's philosophies effectively marginalised and alientated vast swathes of the Gay and Lesbian community. This group were also far left.

    Sadly, they STILL have a presence in the community and, in spite of some claims to the contrary, STILL have a lot of clout with the political left in this country.

    I think things will improve here, but perhaps it will be for another generation to enjoy that change.


  2. @ Chrissie - "Mind you, the trans community in the US does not do too badly when it comes to support from the GLB movement there."

    Is that some kind of joke?

  3. @Stephanie Watson.

    No. I'm sure it's not perfect but there's certainly a fair degree of support.

    The whole paragraph read...
    "Mind you, the trans community in the US does not do too badly when it comes to support from the GLB movement there. Witness the recent Sacremento radio fracas."

    That last line is important.


  4. Well, I suggest you read some of the more political US trans blogs - it would hardly be going too far to say they are enraged by the marginalisation of trans issues by the gay/lesbian establishment. Have you not followed, to take one example, the whole business with ENDA?


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