Approaching is the 50th anniversary of an epic event—the Stonewall Riots (or Uprising) which took place in New York’s Greenwich Village from June 28—July 1, 1969. Stonewall represents decades of dramatic social change in the circumstances of LGBTQ people, the impetus for which exploded after resistance to a police raid on a gay bar. While LGBTQ people had acquiesced in discriminatory treatment for years, suddenly on a hot June night in Sheridan Square the community coalesced to fight back. After Stonewall, there was no turning back on the road to equality.
The celebration of Stonewall 50 culminates in a gala parade on Sunday, June 30, 2019 in New York City. Yet the Boston Pride Committee has organized a series of events to take place in connection with Pride Week in Boston. Of particular note is the Faneuil Hall Community Forum on the significance of Stonewall, set for Monday, June 3rd. Those wanting to experience some reliable history can attend Stonewall Uprising at Rabb Hall at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square location on Wednesday, June 5. This documentary assembles an array of existing historical information to give us an excellent take on the events of 50 years ago. Check out the full range of Boston Pride Committee Stonewall 50 offerings on our web site and in the official Pride Guide.
Stonewall 50 marks an epoch in LGBTQ community life. If you’d like to connect to this august anniversary event or join us in New York please contact Boston Pride’s Stonewall 50 Chairman, Don Gorton, at Stonewall50@bostonpride.org.
Stonewall 50 Events
Stonewall 50 Displays of Banners and Art
Co-sponsored by the History Project and The Boston Pride Committee
At sites relevant to LGBTQ history in Boston and Cambridge
Banners and other artistic displays (digital and printed) will herald the occasion of Stonewall 50. Displays will indicate that LGBTQ history was made at particular locations (e.g. Boston City Hall, the Charles Street Meeting House, and the Fenway Health Ansin Building). A web link: www.Historyproject.org/Stonewall50 –will allow for follow-up on the historical significance of each location. There are also plans to create sidewalk drawings at sites where LGBTQ landmarks appeared in the past.
Pride: Hand in Hand Chamber Concert – Juventas New Music Ensemble
Saturday, June 1, 2019/7:30 PM
First Church in Boston – 66 Marlborough Street
Co-Sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee
Contemporary LGBTQ composers are featured in a Pride Week chamber music concert by the Juventas New Music Ensemble, to take place at First Church in Boston on Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 PM. The event is co-sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee as a Stonewall 50 Event.
“From Tchaikovsky to Copland, many gay composers have been classical music ‘luminaries’” says Junventas Artistic Director Oliver Caplan, “and yet our field rarely performs work speaking to the LGBTQ+ experience, or honors these composers’ contributions as a whole.” Among the featured works is Dennis Tobenski’s Only Air, dedicated to LGBTQ teenagers who took their own lives because of anti-gay bullying. There are five movements each honoring a teenager who died by suicide after being bullied for being gay: Justin Aaberg, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Zach Harrington, and Tyler Clementi.
Another piece, Ingrid Stölzel’s The Voice of the Rain, takes its title and inspiration from the great American poet Walt Whitman. The work compares the cyclical nature of life to the creative process.
“In the performing arts LGBTQ composers, musicians, artists, and fans have both created beauty and militated for social change,” according to Stonewall 50 Chair Don Gorton. “The Pride Committee is delighted to co-sponsor this tribute to contemporary LGBTQ composers whose works tell of our lives and validate our collective experience.”
Tickets are available costing between $15-45 ($10-20 for students and seniors) at Pride In Hand
Stonewall 50 Community Forum at Faneuil Hall
Monday, June 3, 2019/7 PM
Sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee
The Boston Pride Committee is calling a Stonewall 50 Community Meeting to occur at Faneuil Hall on Monday, June 3, at 7 PM. Two keynote speakers will address the theme of Stonewall 50: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, former Obama White House Aide and Director of External Relations for the National Center for Transgender Equality; and Amy Hoffman, Author of An Army of Ex-Lovers: My Life at the Gay Community News and veteran of the early LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement in Boston.
After the keynote addresses, three additional panelists will join the keynoters to comment and answer audience questions. Dale Mitchell, the Grand Marshall of this year’s Boston Pride parade and a veteran of the Stonewall Riots will be joined by Gary Daffin, 29 year Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, which originated the LGB civil rights bills in the 1970’s. In addition, Elijah Oyenuga, Senior Peer Leader for Boston GLASS a/k/a LGBTQ+ Social Services, will offer vision relevant to the concerns of LGBTQ youth.
The Community Meeting program will inquire into Stonewall 50 to probe a variety of dimensions. The central questions for keynoters, panelists, and observers focus on personal understandings of the Stonewall Uprising: How has life changed for LGBTQ people since 1969? How do you place Stonewall in the context of the times? What are the goals we should pursue as a continuing movement?
The Stonewall Riots started in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 when officers of the NYPD “Public Morals” unit raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York City, the then-largest gay bar in the country. Police encountered resistance nearly from the start, as transgender/transvestites refused to strip and exhibit their genitals; male genitalia under a dress exposed the citizen to arrest. A crowd swelled outside on Sheridan Square, and soon turned its anger on the much smaller number of police officers. The police were forced to take refuge inside the Stonewall Inn, while LGBTQ people wrested a parking meter from the sidewalk to use as a battering ram against the door. Police reinforcements were delayed, but arrived just as someone tried to start a fire in the club. There were injuries to LGBTQ protestors but no deaths. The riots continued off and on until July 3, 1969, and were commemorated a year later in the first LGBTQ Pride March.
Stonewall Uprising – A PBS/WGBH Documentary
Wednesday, June 5, 2019/6:30 PM
Rabb Hall, the Boston Public Library Central Library Copley Square
Co-Sponsored by the Boston Public Library and the Boston Pride Committee
For an event with epic significance, the Stonewall Riots starting June 28, 1969 left the present day with scant photographic or video evidence. Few would have seen the point of documentation when the “Public Morals” Unit of the New York Police Dept. launched their infamous raid on America’s largest gay bar of the time. Same-sex intimacy was illegal in 49 states. Oppressive policing and crippling stigma forced LGBTQ people into closets and onto the margins of American social life. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity were pervasive.
The Boston Public Library and the Boston Pride Committee are marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots by presenting the best available historical account of the landmark rebellion. Based on historian David Carter’s landmark study, Stonewall; The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, the documentary produced for Boston’s WGBH television, assembles the most complete array of Stonewall participants ever to tell the story of those legendary nights in 1969. Video footage from the era and background scenes filmed specifically for this movie lend verisimilitude to the portrayal. Even the police supervisor who led the June 28th raid was thoroughly interviewed to ensure the completeness of the story.
In taking us back to a time when LGBTQ’ people were actively persecuted, the film emphasizes the rapidity and tentativeness of social change over the past half century. Stonewall Uprising is a fascinating history lesson that warns against complacency insofar as freedom is concerned. After the screening of the film, Stonewall 50 Chair Don Gorton will lead a discussion about Stonewall and its relevance.
Author Talk Featuring Russ Lopez – Author of Hub of the Gay Universe
Thursday, June 6, 2019/6 PM
Commonwealth Salon, BPL Copley Square
Co-Sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee and the BPL
Boston-based writer Russ Lopez will discuss his recently released history of the LGBTQ presence in Massachusetts, from the Pilgrims’ landing in Provincetown in 1620 through the defeat of the anti-trans referendum on the ballot in November, 2018. Mr. Lopez illustrates how LGBTQ people have been a distinctive element in the life of the Commonwealth since the 17th century, challenging gender, sexual, and social norms even in colonial days. Lopez sheds light on such interesting historical phenomena as the “Boston marriages” of the late 19th century and the legacy of “Banned in Boston” relating to things LGBTQ.
Mr. Lopez’s account reveals interesting but relatively unfamiliar facts of how LGBTQ people have participated in Massachusetts society for nearly 400 years. For example, Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and a leading Boston socialite, hosted a luncheon for Irish author Oscar Wilde during his American tour in 1882. Criticized for audacity Howe took to the media to defend herself. Lopez also notes that while colonial sodomy laws were severe, no men were executed for sodomy in Massachusetts, in contrast to England and the other American colonies.
Mr. Lopez emphasizes Boston’s many firsts. The Tiffany Fair, Fantasia Fair, and the Trans Day of Remembrance had their origins in the Bay State. Most notably, Massachusetts was the first United States jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage starting in 2004. So many national LGBTQ leaders have spent time in the movement in Massachusetts that activists speak of a “Boston Mafia.”
Mr. Lopez showcases the colorful history of the LGBTQ community in a readable and engaging text. Hub of the Gay Universe is especially topical at the time of Stonewall 50.
Panel Discussion on In Search of Stonewall
Hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Review and Dr. Richard Schneider, Publisher
Monday, June 10, 2019/ 6:30 PM
Rabb Hall, BPL Copley Square
Co-Sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Review, Boston Pride Committee, and the BPL
In collaboration with the Boston Public Library and the Boston Pride Committee the Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Review will host a Stonewall 50-themed panel discussion during Boston Pride week. The Review began publishing as the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review in 1994, the year of Stonewall 25. It changed its name in 2000 as it went “worldwide.” The magazine marks its 25th anniversary amidst Stonewall 50 with a collection of its best all-time essays on the Stonewall Riots: In Search of Stonewall.
The panel will feature LGBTQ intellectuals who contributed to the anthology. In his preface Dr. Schneider notes that “because “Stonewall’ exists as a symbol of the LGBT movement quite apart from the historic event itself, the search is always on for the meaning of Stonewall …. [S]omething happened, and it happened quite rapidly and even magically after the riots, so in this sense the search for Stonewall can also be a desire to reconnect with the overpowering energy and excitement of the period.”
Participating in the Review panel discussion will be writers Amy Hoffman and Russ Lopez and historian Martha Stone. Dr. Schneider will moderate. Each will analyze the significance of Stonewall from his or her perspective.
Intergenerational Dialogue About Stonewall Among LGBTQ Youth and Elders
Saturday, June 15, 2019/2 PM
Teen Central at the BPL Copley Square
Co-sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee, the BPL, and BAGLY
The Stonewall 50 Subcommittee of the Boston Pride Committee, together with the Teen Central at the BPL and the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth, convenes a conversation among older LGBTQ activists and community leaders about the meaning of Stonewall for our time. Pre-selected activist elder (55+) panelists will introduce themselves and talk about their experiences as youth and the change they have seen in their lifetimes. Then youth participants will ask questions of the panelists and comment to focus discussion. There is much both elders and youth can learn from each other.
Stonewall 50 Chair for the Boston Pride Committee Chair Don Gorton stressed that “generativity is critical as the Baby Boomers who took the movement forward from Stonewall approach retirement. Young people born long after 1969 will inherit a legacy of civil rights advances coupled with challenges both unique to the LGBTQ community and at the intersection of other social justice causes.”
Author Talk Featuring John-Manuel Andriote, Author of Stonewall Strong
Tuesday, June 25, 2019/6 PM
Commonwealth Salon, BPL Copley Square
Co-Sponsored by the Boston Pride Committee and the BPL
Public health advocate John-Manuel Andriote finds in LGBTQ history patterns of resiliency, mutual support, and community that suggest to him heroism, seldom acknowledged but enormously instructive. His book, Stonewall Strong, being released in paperback in the spring of 2019, canvasses past triumphs like the Stonewall Riots in 1969, the delisting of homosexuality as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and the emergence of ACT UP in response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s. With redoubtable hope and creativity the community engineered increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, culminating in the landmark Obergefell decision in 2015.
Mr. Andriote, who writes a blog for Psychology Today, interviews some of the leading LGBTQ intellectuals of the post-Stonewall era. From their personal stories he discerns capacities for transcending trauma that have helped ameliorate symptoms of minority stress. Among the subjects interviewed, the fiery activist and writer Larry Kramer comments that “Somewhere along the line I was able to work out that I love being gay, that it was the most important thing in my life.”
Harvard medical professor Kenneth Mayer, M.D. calls Stonewall Strong “a tour de force.” Dr. Mayer, who also is director of medical research at Boston’s Fenway Institute, says that in Stonewall Strong, Mr. Andriote “skillfully educates the reader how the lessons learned from addressing the [HIV-AIDS] epidemic have laid the foundations for a stronger, more resilient community.” He adds, “The book is well-written, compelling, and highly informative.”
Join Mr. Andriote as he talks of the resiliency and renewal demonstrated time and again in the collective LGBTQ experience.