Full Moon Over the Stonewall: Howard Smith's Account of the Stonewall Riots

Categories: Gay Rights

Fred W. McDarrah
Stonewall Inn, 1969
Saturday June 28 marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. To mark the occasion, we've excavated "Full Moon Over the Stonewall," Voice columnist Howard Smith's account of the night spent the night he spent on "the wrong side of the blue line," barricaded inside the Stonewall Inn with police.

Smith, who dutifully cataloged the city's cultural flotsam in his "Scenes" column starting in 1966 and continuing through 1983, passed away on May 1 of this year at the age of 77.

During the "gay power" riots at the Stonewall last Friday night I found myself on what seemed to me the wrong side of the blue line. Very scary. Very enlightening.

I had struck up a spontaneous relationship with Deputy Inspector Pine, who had marshalled the raid, and was following him closely, listening to all the little dialogues and plans and police inflections. Things were already pretty tense: the gay customers freshly ejected from their hangout, prancing high and jubilant in the street, had been joined by quantities of Friday night tourists hawking around for Village-type excitement. The cops had considerable trouble arresting the few people they wanted to take in for further questioning. A strange mood was in the crowd -- I noticed the full moon. Loud defiances mixed with skittish hilarity made for a more dangerous stage of protest; they were feeling their impunity. This kind of crowd freaks easily.

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This Was the Gayest St. Patrick's Day Ever, Relatively Speaking

All photos by Jenna Pope
The Irish Queers protest at the 2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade
While St. Patrick's Day revelers were puking technicolor green on each other all up and down 5th Avenue, a mass beericide was narrowly averted at the Stonewall Inn, as part of what turned out to be a (relatively) gay-friendly St. Patrick's Day. The famed gay bar had planned a mass dumping of Guinness yesterday afternoon, to protest the company's decision to sponsor the official, no-gays-allowed St. Patrick's Day parade. Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall, says the bar planned to dump between 10 and 15 cases of the beer.

But late Sunday, Guinness announced it would pull its sponsorship of the parade, writing: "Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy." The Stonewall canceled its planned beer-dumping and proceeded with its $10 Guinness and Jameson special, allowing everyone to dump beer down each other's gullets, where it belongs. (Heineken also pulled its support for the New York parade, as did Sam Adams in Boston.)

At the same time, both New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh were declining to march in their city's parades, citing the anti-gay policies. The Irish Queers, a group that's been protesting the parade for more than two decades, see a sea change underway.

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Robert Pinter's Lawsuit Against NYPD for Targeting Gay Men in Video Store Entrapment Stings Allowed to Go Forward: Federal Judge

In a ruling which could lead to a range of new lawsuits against the Police Department, a federal judge has refused to dismiss a claim filed by a gay man who says the NYPD targeted and arrested men in porn video stores in violation of their civil rights.

The judge in the case, Shira Scheindlin, has become something of a thorn in the side of the Bloomberg administration. Scheindlin presided over the landmark stop-and-frisk class-action lawsuit, which led to the unprecedented imposition of a monitor over the department.

Now, Scheindlin has ruled on the case of Robert Pinter, who for years has been involved in a campaign to stop the NYPD from hanging around gay video stores and arresting men on prostitution charges merely for frequenting the shops.

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In NJ Conversion Therapy Lawsuit, A Teenage Boy Begs To Continue Counseling for His "Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions"

Photo via NJ.gov
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who signed the conversion therapy ban August 19
At the end of August, two therapists in New Jersey sued the state over its recently signed ban on "conversion therapy," a practice which purports to turn gay people straight. In new affidavits filed with the court last week, a 15-year-old boy and his parents say that conversion therapy had been life-saving for him. They ask that he be allowed to continue trying to rid himself of his "unwanted same-sex attractions," which they believe are the cause of his suicidal thoughts.

The therapists suing the state, Dr. Tara King and Dr. Ron Newman, were joined in the suit by the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, the main supporter of conversion therapy these days and the group they both belong to, as well as the American Association of Christian Counselors. They're all represented by the Liberty Counsel, who often represent anti-abortion and anti-gay causes, and who are fighting a similar ban in California. And while most of the case has been about whether the New Jersey ban restricts free speech or prevents harmful pseudo-scientific treatments, these affidavits shine a light on the motivations of people who seek out conversion therapy.

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Surprise: Anti-Abortion & Anti Gay-Marriage Groups Are Uniting to Donate Lots of Money Against Gay City Council Candidates

One of City Action's anti-Torres mailers
The City Action Coalition is an assemblage of conservative religious groups, whose members mostly pop up to oppose abortion and hold rallies against legalizing gay marriage. But this election season, they've also quietly expanded into city politics, holding a mayoral candidate forum at Monroe College in April that Politicker gently described as "peculiar." And while City Action's stated platforms include "religious freedom" and "opposition to racial discrimination," in practice, their PAC, which has just five donors, is mostly throwing money at one thing: defeating three openly gay City Council candidates. They paid for the mailer above, which attacks Ritchie Torres, a 25-year-old candidate who lives in a supportive housing unit in the Bronx.

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Recovering Homophobe Brett Ratner Backs Christine Quinn for Mayor

Guys, TMZ and the New York Post think a Hollywood homophobe backing an NYC lesbian for mayor is news!

Well, maybe it is. TMZ reports in a rather disgustingly written item that Brett Ratner has donated $28,400 to Christine Quinn's mayoral campaign. The piece seems to suggest that Rattner is atoning for his homophobic outgassing ahead of the 2011 Oscars.

Christine Quinn seems like she's onboard with the incorrigible director supporting her bid for mayor, telling the Post that "What Brett Ratner said when he was preparing for the Academy Awards was completely unacceptable. [But] he went about fixing it and making it better and making sure he never does that again."

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The raucousness of this morning's overturning of DOMA died away quickly.
This morning, at just a touch past 10, the Supreme Court announced its long-awaited ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, striking the law down in an uncharacteristically sweeping 5-4 ruling. In all the media analysis mumbo-jumbo since the case was argued back in February, the fundamentals of the case got all tangled up in conjecture and hypotheses about the court ruling this way or that.

See Also: Scenes of Jubilation at the Stonewall Inn as the Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA

Well, no more need for guesswork: With the demise of DOMA, married gay couples in the states where it's legal (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and D.C.) can now enjoy the over 1,000 federal rights and benefits attached to marriage. And here in New York, it means more than 10,000 couples living with skim-milk marriage can now get their cut of the fat.

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First-Ever Russian LGBT Float in NYC Pride? Big Whoop.

In a bid for the title of Shittiest Legislative Body on Earth, the lower house of Russia's parliament unanimously passed legislation banning "homosexual propaganda," evidently to stop Russia's LGBT community from preaching the wonders of gayness to kids. And next week, for the first time ever, the New York City Pride march will feature a float representing New York's Russian-speaking community.

So we called Yelena Goltsman, the founder of Rusa LGBT, expecting all kinds of hoorays and hoorahs, bright tones and fiery rhetoric. What we got: Whoop dee-freakin'-doo.

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New Report Highlights Police Hostility Toward Transgender Women of Color

It was broad daylight, Kerri says, when she and a gay friend were stopped by a cop while walking down the street in Jackson Heights. "An officer walks out of the corner store and says [he] heard a report up the street that we were harassing somebody," Kerri said. When Kerri asked who made the report, the officer wanted to take her up the street.

"I said I'm not going up the street. Then [he] started frisking my friend and found two condoms in his pocket."

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[UPDATE]: Prop 8 and DOMA Head To The Supreme Court

same-sex marriage.jpeg
UPDATE: According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court agreed this afternoon to decide on the constitutionality of the Proposition 8 appeal and the Defense of Marriage Act.

It is, arguably, the most significant social battle in America's courts since Roe v. Wade or even Brown v. the Board of Education. It is an issue that is being fought in every state (as of the most recent Election Day, nine approve; 31 disapprove) and a situation that the White House has staked out its territory in. And it is a landmark case that is about to hit its flashpoint.

When Proposition 8's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was approved in California four years ago, civil rights lawyers slowly began the appeals process, and it was really only a matter of time until the case made its way up to the Supreme Court. 

On Friday, the nine justices met to discuss the future of this important legal provision; in other words, whether to hear the case. But the group left the conference silent, with no word on the impending same-sex marriage courtroom showdown. However, the Supreme Court will reconvene today and the week after, which will be its last private meeting until the middle of January. Around this time last year, the court made the decision to hear the health care reform law arguments, leading to the decision that defined the court in 2011. 

Now, once again, it is faced with a pressure just as grand in size; the speculation on what will happen begins.

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