Archive for September, 2012

Stonewall Remembered

September 21st, 2012 Comments off

The 1960’s were a tumultuous period in our recent history.  The Stonewall Riot was a remarkable event in those roiling times.  I was there when it happened.

I was living in Greenwich Village, at No. 7 Gay Street (how’s that for an address?), just around the corner from The Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street at Sheridan Square, in the heart of the Village.  That was a very busy place, brightly lit and always full of people, every night and especially on Fridays and Saturdays.  Almost any weekend evening I could walk out my front door and see flashing blue lights from the cop cars up and down Christopher, West Fourth, and Seventh Avenue.  Sheridan square is a tiny park in the Y-intersection of Christopher and West Fourth streets, right at Seventh Avenue. There was the IRT subway stop; hop on an uptown train and you’re soon at Times Square, Central Park, or Spanish Harlem, or to Queens; take the downtown train for Brooklyn, Wall Street and Staten Island.

Just as it was quick and easy to go to those places, so it was quick and easy to get from those places to Sheridan Square, and boy, did you ever, if you were young and gay and eager to find like minds and bodies.  That subway stop was a popular hangout for drag queens, and a convenient jumping off place for the other hot spots in The Village.  It was also a favorite spot for the cops, who just loved to hassle the ‘queers.’

[DDET Read more…]

As was every other gathering place for gay young men and women; raiding the gay bars was a constant, a given in New York City.  But not just in NYC: hassling gays was a fact of life throughout the country.

I spent my last two years of college in a suburb of Chicago.  Near there, was a little gay bar, a dark and lonely-looking shack, really, on the road on the western edge of O’Hare Airport.  During an election season, the Sheriff promised to “clean up” the gay bars, and raided that place.  Everyone was arrested, taken to jail and booked on ‘indecent behavior’.  There names, addresses, and places of employment were taken down, given to reporters, and duly published in the newspapers.  A few of my professors were listed there.  I was lucky: I had to study that night, so wasn’t there.

And so it went, in Chicago, in New York, in Philadelphia, in Atlanta…wherever there were gay people, there too were cops to give them grief.

Strangely, though, there were even more serious causes for protest.  The war in Vietnam.  Segregation, and the Freedom marches.  Feminism was rising.  The Black Panther movement.

And Black Panther leader Angela Davis; she had been arrested and that day incarcerated in the Women’s House of Detention on Greenwich Street, also just around the corner from Sheridan Square.  It was while standing on a street corner in solidarity with Angela Davis, that I first noticed the commotion going on down by the Stonewall.

The Stonewall was not my kind of place, too much rough trade, bears and leather.  I had no hankering to stand around in the semi-dark smoky room with a luke-warm beer in my hand among all those egos; I preferred a lighter place, with twinks like myself.  But its location in the center of The Village gave the Stonewall enough patrons to attract the attention of the cops.

For all those planning on attending the next riot, here’s a hint:  Arrive Early!  I came on the scene when there were already hundreds of people, voices were shouting, bodies were shoving, obscenities and slogans were being throw, and everything was a confusing mess–and there I was, at the back of the crowd.  Could not tell just what was going on, but could feel the excitement of the crowd, and the joy of resistance to The Man, the utter exuberance of rebellion.  People were running this way and that, spinning around, shouting at the tops of their voices, all caught up in the spirit of freedom in the air.

This went on for quite some time.  Eventually, the blue-lights left, groups went off in their own directions, and I went home to bed, hearing the calls of stragglers out my window.This was the beginning, though, not an end.  The whole community was charged up.  A new activist group, the Gay Activist Alliance came out to replace the stodgy old Matachine Society.  (And I always had thought that GAA stood for Girls’ Athletic Association.)  A real feeling of comradeship  had developed.

The first Gay Pride Day Parade, I was at the front of hundreds all the way up Fifth Avenue to Central Park.  When we got to the Park and spilled into the Sheep Meadow, reporters and cameras were on us.  My lover, his girlfriend and I were besieged by camera in face: “Who does what to whom?”  crudely demanded a reporter.

It was a beautiful day in the park, and there was a feeling, I am free, I am Me, and I can do anything!

And we could. And that feeling led to us doing everything we could. Because we could. Even before Stonewall, there was an incipient epidemic of hepatitus, but going to the baths was, “I can do it, so I will.” And then AIDS came along, and the best minds of my generation, the most beautiful minds of my generation… I hope never to have to see another quilt.


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Total Taxes as PerCent of Income

September 19th, 2012 Comments off

This chart via Ezra Klein in WaPo:

Tax Comparison

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice

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5 Charts That Show America’s Middle Class Has Deteriorated

September 8th, 2012 Comments off

From Think Progress: stunning.

And Digby over at Hullabaloo has some really interesting takes on inequality.

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American Exceptionalism and Jim Crow

September 8th, 2012 Comments off

I’m struck by the parallels of today’s ‘American Exceptionalism’ advocates and the ‘reform’ movement in the southern Democratic party at the turn of the 20th century.  Back then, the rule of dark-skinned peoples in the Philipines, ‘the white man’s burden,’  was used to bolster the  justification for white rule in the South, suppressing black voting and bolstering Jim Crow. Today, American Exceptionalism is the raison d’etre for American interference (so-called ‘leadership’) in the Mid-East.

The original idea behind American exceptionalism was that America was founded upon principles that were not found in other nations: democracy and  egalitarianism. This idea has been completely distorted so that today it means that America ‘knows better’ than those ignorant, backward Others, i.e., darker-skinned peoples.

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Best Cat Video Ever

September 5th, 2012 Comments off

As found in Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog:


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“One-Term Proposition” Distortions

September 4th, 2012 Comments off

In Wapo Greg Sargent says in his blog today

Republicans are contrasting this with an interview Obama gave early in his term, in which he said: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then this is gonna be a one-term proposition.” And no question — that contrast is a rough one politically for Obama.

Why Oh Why keep repeating this mis-quote?  Obama was referring to the TARP, not the deficit, nor the debt, nor the economy.  It’s just another Republican take-it-out-of-context lies that they repeat over and over and over–and here’s a ‘liberal’ columnist repeating the same distortion.


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