Why the Commonly Told Story of Stonewall is the Least Interesting Thing About It
In the early morning of June 28th 1969, lesbians, gay men, drag queens, street hustlers, and transgender people fought the police and rioted for three nights on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Stonewall Riot, as it came to be called, was the birth of the modern day Gay Liberation and Gay Rights movements. This was a momentous historical moment. It is also, possibly, the least interesting part of the story. Stonewall is the founding myth of today LGBTQ movements – but it is also the story of a moment in history that gripped the imagination of the nation crossing racial, gender, political, and social divides. It is a tale of riots, rebellion, revolt, freedom, and not least of all, drugs, sex and rock and roll.
Michael Bronski has been active in the Gay Liberation movement since 1969. Over the past fifty years he has been a writer, journalist, editor, publisher organizer, theorist, and independent scholar. His writing has appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Fortune, The Advocate, and Out. He is the author of numerous books including A Queer History of the United States (2011) won the 2011 Lambda Literary Award for Best Non-Fiction as well as the 2011 American Library Association Stonewall Israel Fishman Award for Best Non Fiction. A Queer History of the United States for Young People will be published in June of 2019. In April 2018 he was awarded the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle. Past recipients include Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Martin Duberman, Samuel R. Delany, Alison Bechdel, and Jonathan Ned Katz. He is Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media and the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University.