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aa oh ok i moved to greenwich village in nineteen fifty six so how come along with the president there and i became the democratic district leader of the political a club in the area having defeated a major figure known as comet is happier is now deceased and so i know the area very well and were there ever since are currently active the first apartment house off and
on fifth avenue right off washington square park so i know the area very well and the area changes a year to year but basically remains the sun is at a culmination of the players people primarily jewish guy on the major avenue and in the apartment houses italian south of the park primarily a in the tenements which are very expensive and very modern and the artists and others who come up to a villager because that they seek an anemone or social freedoms which they say cases they're not elsewhere and you know we're the area changes basically year because the
rents go up and people are unable to afford to replace and therefore go to the what they perceive to be the new villages chelsea and soul and then they become much too expensive an unnamed go to brooklyn but basically the violence in my judgment remains the same well in the sixties on labor laws yes but i think those people are and part still were there were talking about whether the same people are there they move to cheaper places but there's always a sufficient substantial group of the people i've outlined to you so if i had to say what's the difference louise was a very famous restaurant and
bar in the sixties and you could get maybe obama john of solo play for a dollar seventy five the limelight or which was a lovely a restaurant you can get a three course dinner for dollar ad in that way it's changed i'm sure but there are protesters the very top once again of a village in my judgment maintains a special hold more from the people who were there in the sixties in part are still there and they hear the century that we're currently living so how about the politics of the sixties but which in terms of gay rights is quite different today
it came out of the district leaders i said and had defeated a car mind this sappy only seeking a comeback and village independent democrats still in existence that were quite famous for taking on the establishment and politics it was more exciting than it is today the reform movement was coming into its own and we were defeating the incumbent clubs aren't today year politics is less exciting and less involving this street politics which existed know that i was the number one street speaker for the vote in nevada democrats actually took a chair and walked to different areas well primarily are those seven
seven years south sheridan square and we talk to audiences of anywhere from twenty five to two hundred on occasion show i remembered fondly you i'm the gay bars to or primarily owned by mia organized crime family a cops were paid off by organized crime and some of them were public good bars you use was very famous one others were the so called a phony private clubs where you paid admission to get in and the stonewall has become famous it was a so called private club and that was frequented
by the early days and some lesbians and transvestites it was there really a mix and there were people runaways younger boys you girls who slept in sheridan square park are made it said their headquarters in that was directly across the street from the stone wall and they those who were gay or lesbian those who frequented only on so do you have this lengthy tour and that all i know is when you say if i was so that's why well so is their license and the recent letter
ha and they were raided by the cops regularly and they were ten or so the cops it was awful i don't know that there was no law that i'm familiar with which is said that homosexuals and lesbians or to be barred from bars but in effect catch major online they arrested them and they use their power to give bribes they say where i'm not familiar with it but regrettably out the government and remember it this was first under wagner and that underlines the end of a wagon ministration was not friendly year to the gays lesbians of the lindsay administration
a professed to be but in fact to me the stonewall the incident that took place in the second term of a john lindsay's so he didn't do what he should have done i sailed them at the time for that one well what we have today i'm very proud of the fact that i when i became an american in the first thirty days of my administration it issued an executive order that the government could not discriminate against a government employees in employment housing education on the basis of sort of sexual orientation and then because of that same executive order would have to be a law passed by the city council to apply to the private sector and because of then majority
leader tom cute title who is homophobic i would not allow a discussion on for a year bill to be voted on that would do that ten years to get a comparable appears that say that the private sector could not discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation and that was visible to get that law through the reason we got through arizona that at a new majority leader cheadle owner wanted support my senate would only support him if he would allow a vote on that issue not that he has to support that he was against it and to that i said to every a member of the a city council democrat republican that if you're
afraid to vote for this legislation i ever tell you know i will support you in your primaries and a new general election irrespective of your party affiliation or if you cast a vote and favor legislation until it was voted on and it is the law of the land that has been since nineteen eighty six thank you we're talking about the nineteen sixties when there were some laws of mastery i was in it certainly with that said is the day ian from law that was passed back in the early years of the civil war
it was not dirt and originally directed at aig eighties but subsequently used by the police to arrest people who cross dressers for example the law that prevents the people were from the using a mi asks and other clothing had to disguise themselves and it was used i think without question wrongly by cops against gays lesbians who engaged in court he's right often in a policy out of the a cops are
was twofold one day as seriously just did not want to bar owners to serve gays and harass them and to where they were this was the policy of the administration at the time but it was a policy of crooked cops to use the harassment to two get bribes from the bar owners who want to stay in business catering to gays and lesbians and that's why organized crime was involved because they had no intention of paying off cops and so they owned so far as i know laurie's that cater to gays and they owned the stolen this particular case the what was the purpose was raging today was just their exchange of money or shut down the bars have
no idea i'm going to have my take time involvement and this comes as a result of the fact that i was the congressman at the time representing of the village and therefore they are very desirous of helping my constituents some of our gay and lesbian and others who are not too were offended by this is discriminatory action on the part of the city well i can say there were crack downs from time to time in terms of more raids and more customary and in preparing for coming year i did a low reading it's a long time ago remember back in june of sixty nine of my recollection
and i heard it read in one of the early discussions that regular made regularly once a month so i guess if there's a crackdown has more than once a month they don't remember hearing the world i read that you know i read that there was an effort to crack down on you know a game was because only a forthcoming new world's fair it's related to a central issue in this phone was still probably heard is that to be gay in the sixties was very different than now there's no question the fur there were people lulu had no fear in our publicly early gay cowboy actor the vast majority of gay people lesbians and gay males
harm and did not make that public and we're very fearful of being disclosed as such because you could lose your job how you could lose your apartment so it's understandable how outrageous that that was the situation that it no longer is the situation is a partial matter now whether someone once said to be publicly gay who is gay or happy answer per person tries to penny on their own circumstances well amanda oh yes there were medical institutions that gay people were basically nights i don't this they're arranged ha and then that was broken by a day in a
psychiatric an organization that said that there was no work mental disability early alert afloat for being gay later police procedural trial yes entrapment third did exist particularly in the subway system in the bathrooms now this that we don't have this but eventually did and the cops would hide behind the walls of the urine else hi and if they saw some sexual activity they would arrest those people it was an outrage that happened before lindsay but also during one scene i remember complaining on behalf of my constituents are to lindsey and i do believe that that was stopped during the levers the
administration well violence regrettably still exists against a gay people was apparently but far less that day and it is as specific violation of the law if you engage it in such a crime having such an animus with higher penalties raise the bar's mission oh of course i was a absolutely opposed to it appalled by it and that took action are complaining to her lindsey in to the places i went i was district leader and then even more so as a member of congress with even greater authority all sectors of course i was
opposed to it to the harassment and discrimination against gays and i had to support it at the city council a level the introduction of legislation that would protect them against discrimination and when i became mayor i put into effect regrettably we couldn't get before that time it was opposed by the leadership in the city that's the number one and then when i was the congressman i remember with great pride that bell labs to who was a congressman at the time representing the upper west side that she and i and i think to other members of congress the teddy weiss was also oil from new york city to introduce legislation on a federal level to prohibit discrimination against her gays and lesbians regrettably that legislation that had
never got to too many have sponsors and it is not the law today when the sixties and we're talking about some of the us stars was there any protective measures that creates jobs yes of course it could've been measures such as the most is that i introduced when i was my ear hard to speak out for four people i don't think so although there's no question that there were people were would not vote for an individual who were supportive of gay rights and why what how are consumers well really early history of gay rights is not very good ones until modern area and most countries to get our
prohibit sexual early sex to take place and harass people knew are gay or lesbian in some cases particularly arab bauer muslim countries as you face the death sentence if you engage in homosexual behavior but certainly in parts of the united states it leads to discrimination there are around i don't know how many of those states i think it's probably a lesson twenty but more cities that have a permit and is a gays and lesbians to engage in their lifestyles without sanction hop but as i say a less than twenty states and the other states it is still illegal
so notwithstanding their fact that there's been no norm this change in the country we know i have i think to states massachusetts and connecticut that permits same sex marriage you also have a the state of california that now once did and then they have a referendum not long ago a word that rescinded the right of same sex marriage is not thirty year to a country that is fair and non discriminatory in the area of gay rights fourteen year old how does this year
ah for gay rights says the flight only rights of blacks how were constantly under attack and while blacks were protected by constitutional amendments coming out of the civil war days were not protected by law serving not the constitution that has changed but not enough hand as changed only in particular in areas of san francisco over the city and state of new york and other cities throughout the country not enough what's very you know really coalescing and then struggling to protesting and other groups as well not really
remember any man any indication that the people would be desire of gay he said to protest and stand up i think most people would say started with the stonewall uprising and as a result of the resistance has shown to the corrupt cops and ruined they did the stonewall float and oh were arresting people and the people who fought back there were cross section of a gay life transfer stites man in a gay males lesbians they fought back actually and then the crowds formed outside to which involved not only gauge it was in the village area christopher street which is a major gay area but also people oh
who were straight you were fronted by what was taking place in that anger continued for a several days where people would come back in the course of the day and the night and stand in front of the year so and i was covered don't buy papers like the village voice and other papers but what is interesting is that from that incident our year later another first a gay rights parade a card and after a parade and now a word which has existed every year since then since nineteen seventy earlier on was on a lesser our menu is now on fifth avenue that occurred during my administration that they we're allowed to go to work or fifth avenue and not every parade has allowed
those of the major parades and it is one of the biggest parades early in the city and i think people love it so a year ago he stood down from central park and goes across i think they've changed a little bit on a street they make a special effort to have a group go over to the stonewall inn pay their respects to the stonewall haram is totally different today and that it wants sixty nine people were killed why do i will tell you in town the un mayors march in a gay rights frayed i marched in a gay rights parade and i remember he and a current to secretary of state hillary
clinton called me up and they asked me it was only after i'd been mayor no longer there and if i would go march with our enemy again right for eight he was running for office was ensured that that hurts us as a segment of the dimes you and barney frank came in our march to go with hillary and myself and others in her entourage white guy now of course that nevertheless i know doubt that ultimately a gay rights so would be recognized and i was privilege and proud to be the first mayor to put that in an executive order and to get it through the city council i'm very proud of that what
do you think the stonewall where storms well as stonewall i read somewhere and i thought it was a very good job description is sort of like rosa parks for a black rites rosa parks set him up and take it anymore and she has said she would not be segregated on the bus and she sat down on a seat so that was held for a white passenger and know what thirty eight gays and lesbians and transvestites a at stonewall a good day when the cops came in a corrupt than seeking to arrest them and barring them from doing what they were doing which was the good drinking in private club dancing and using it her
club barbaro as heterosexual ones were doing throughout the city another similar arrangements and they were like rosa parks a sin not to get more and therefore attack and it was a great citizen revolution well it was not terror law but higher the next day it was covered by the press and i knew people who are involved who sought me out as a congressman and former district leader and a leader of the village and so i guess i was told you know what happened and i was outraged our age by lindsay administration being primarily responsible was their cops who did it but it's changed i mean the pressure is on wednesday was such that
things started to word change the harassment but even at yale when is not able to or didn't lead a fighter to legitimate targets the rights of gays and i'm proud of the fact that i did in the successful it's been
American Experience
Stonewall Uprising
Raw Footage
Interview with Edward Koch, 1 of 2
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WGBH Educational Foundation
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Episode Description
In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Such raids were not unusual in the late 1960s, an era when homosexual sex was illegal in every state but Illinois. That night, however, the street erupted into violent protests and street demonstrations that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.
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This footage consists of an interview with Edward Koch, Mayor of New York City from 1978-1989.
Copyright 2011 WGBH Educational Foundation
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Interviewee: Koch, Ed, 1924-2013
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: 022 (WGBH Item ID)
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Chicago: “American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Edward Koch, 1 of 2,” 2011-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Edward Koch, 1 of 2.” 2011-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Edward Koch, 1 of 2. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from