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if I think what we're getting at is it's kind of a deep thing that like what you're talking about which is a feeling of people coming together and really speaking out and that contrast it sounds like the sort of like prim and proper Jack and Ty and Mattishing's aside attempt to like fit into the world we can talk about that before like what what was the Mattishing what was the they bugged the shit out of you in some way or well is the Mattishing was trying to make people fit in to show that gay people were normal big normal was wearing a suit we could be lawyers we could be any kind of things you know they were careers they
were things to protect there were reasons not to upset society there were reasons not to tip the barrel and it's better to you know a spoonful of honey than the vinegar because for the scared red queens they had nothing to lose they were you know they weren't going to have careers they were just going to live every day and they needed that every night they needed to live in order to get through the next day there had to be some magic some drama some spark and Christopher Street Stonewall provided all of that we really could fight and yes I went to them and I said loud meaning acting very flamboyant with a whole bunch of other queens Theresa van Dyke just the name will tell you we all went in we thought
we'd do a little makeup we showed them what we're at I mean we sort of knew instinctively to put a little makeup on just to show them that you know here here's the other wing and there's two you know the bird flies you know the wing of the other bird you know the other wing of the bird you know that you give variation and to give a wholeness to them because that was an organization that you know could maybe it could have helped already we had thought that some of us they just have to leave but we weren't surprised we just thought there they go there's no other riot like that there's never a riot when everybody attacked eight people that all ran different directions it was almost famous at the time you know don't count on your friend if you're attacked is every queen for themselves and that was a rule nobody had to speak it and this time no one scattered this was and everybody knew
that you're every queen for themselves save yourself and that's it because we all have a certain amount of street smarts and it's up to you if you get caught you get caught we'll hear about you please shift it all of a sudden nobody was running they were coming me to confront the police I would never have I only wanted to get away from them and live my life and have my sex and have my fun we all communicate it was an ant colony it was a termite colony being attacked the drake queen was the termite queen we all programmed it was all a chemical we all came we all fought we all knew what to do we didn't let the riot go we milk the riot the first early we didn't want to say that but we weren't milking that riot we were trying to cause enough incidents enough problems and enough attention that you just can't always do this to somebody because it wasn't enough to be nothing was happening with with
the Gandhi situation they had to know that there was another another way of doing it and let's not do it that way that's not drive people to this so crazy and so miserably they kill themselves or want to hurting other people or live a life that was so negative and so cynical that it was like a prophecy come true if you're gay you wind up like this and also what was necessary about the riots what was necessary about the riot is is to be able to hold her head up high and sort of give credence to all our great people Tennessee Williams and all of those people they opened the way for us with their plays on Broadway there's a new era we couldn't let that go that was what we're holding on to we had a chance because you never revolt even like in the French Revolution when everything is sealed it's only when it slightly opens you can see the air
you can feel the air you can touch freedom you can taste freedom you can see that blue you've got to push that up you just got to go I think anybody would be like this all of us any riot anywhere that meant something anywhere in the world and we were noticed and we would be noticed why because we were so extravagant crazy and and uh interesting we found each other interesting it must have been I mean I was taken to see gays as a child that was one of the things you did knew York was like a Barnum Bailey aspect of it it was fun to see facts and uh some people wanted to kill them of course but they were theatrical everywhere they were. Did you know did you any incline that there'd be some historical wandering here we are? Can you say your own words? No I never thought I never thought it would happen I mean there was some things I never thought I mean that like I never thought Soviet Union would fall I never thought they'd be a gay riot I
mean I never thought we'd be a gay movement other people had movements and we should help those other people because we've been oppressed and let's use the knowledge that we had against ourselves but they're never gonna accept us they think we're unnatural they think we're degenerate but we can help others you can't lose that sense of humanity and you have to share that sense of humanity and then we learned to share it with each other and that was wonderful of course we were from all cultures of the world we were very rich it sounds like then it's like it's almost like you've been like strangled quietly and not even knowing it and then said like because you never thought you'd ever voice and then at the riot like some did you yes because that was a good metaphor in that story about the being choked so I was blue I mean I was being choked literally just as a metaphor of my life was being choked and that night I breathed and found strength and and another sense of purpose
besides the village girl there were some other people that were doing things they were saying you know terrible things to the police office pigs really law some birdie was grabbing his crotch at a huge crack and birdie was grabbing his crotch and and it's something you know do the police office you never do that to a police officer here we could do it did you feel like it was your street or my street yes it was our street oh yes it was our street this was our street this was ours I mean I came out in Central Park in other places that wasn't ours it was borrowed this was ours here's where the stone was here's our mecca a mecca I mean I would always even look downtown if I was uptown if I was in the park or in the river there was the village there was whisper at home well Alan Ginsburg was here figuring your life oh yes all those people can you talk to spiffers what what what what were we talking about and what do you mean to you well Alan Ginsburg was openly gay poet and he was well that was said he was openly gay
how was an important poem whether you liked it or not they were interesting parts in it let's put our shoulder to the wheel all those metaphors meant something to us and all those people he asked oh to have you gay bookshop I was so he saw heartbroken it was so small I love bookshops I would go to bookshops all the time and I just wish we had a bigger one that's all I just I was happy we had when I was trying to buy a book something matches some oh yeah yeah because I was looking at books of different subjects they didn't go far they didn't go far enough yet but they were opening up there was like all the people we loved all of the you know bold and all the people that added things from their own cultural group from their own world coming together there was things on Van Gloiden the photographer wonderful you know
renewed went back there was occasionally a book on the Gays in the Middle Ages or something we went back we knew the Romans but we knew the Greeks I mean every gay person knows their culture that way our spiritual culture we know but the dark ages they were opening up light onto the dark ages they were always here sometimes people would tell us oh there's no Gays in Poland or there's no Gays here and some people would believe that maybe there is a society where there's no Gays but no it was the beginning of knowing this case everywhere in every period speaking of reaching the world you know finding links all over for business sisters all over March what happened after the rise what was formed you know about this like you know the March that came to New York yes I dated so I was dating Marty Robinson at one point and he was very very active but the big thing was the first March the first March I think we were allowed to go up six Avenue and we didn't get the whole street but we went and the crowd was good
the crowd was interesting there were Japanese people remember taking they weren't only taking photos they were telling us this is unbelievable what you're doing this is unbelievable I felt great I felt like oh wow we're really doing something look we're marching we always had much for everybody else against the war against this or against that now we were marching for ourselves I didn't know how far would go if it was just that far it was enough at the point at that point because we were marching oh just kept going it just kept going the news was amazing all the time I mean to the Anita Bryant controversy but they fired her oh every here oh well we would just get ready for the March we know and we get ready for the March and it was going to be fun and it was going to be fun to see all the shocked people's faces all the tourists were going to
be shocked it was so much fun and people like sometimes when people weren't home it was like I don't know some of them were I think we're on a Sunday maids would look out the window everybody was amazed it was like amazing we were like parts circus and well we're just parts circus so um speaking of a revolution somehow took that I mean do you think do you think the game movement would it needed that kickstart what was the storm war rise to think about it it was can you say the storm yes the storm war rise was about really placing it all in a center on the map a beginning that was definite that everybody could recognize because many things were done before that but here it crystallized but it can fossilize it kept going we glowed we knew it I knew it that morning I knew when I saw all that glass I knew we glowed like that we weren't diamonds but
we glow it was beautiful it was a beautiful thing the wind oh it picked up a little oh it was wonderful where the sun came up I had done a night's work and then my dad the next day well it's about time you fact it's did something and he was so supportive all the time and he always said don't be ashamed just be yourself and now we all can be ourselves it's great oh it's very beautiful it was yeah bud of light we were all caterpillars you know an ugly crawling existence turned into a beautiful beautiful flage and fantasy that could come true we aren't a wings yeah oh speaking of earning your wings David was curious can you list to me all the all the five so big what did you want good one more what's that well okay well
okay the question I asked earlier was yeah well we're all the terrible things that could happen to you in the before 1969 being gay I mean well your neighborhood could find out if it can as it starts sort of like yes before 1969 before 1969 many things that happened to you you could give a blowjob to some boy you trusted in the neighborhood and they could tell everybody and then some families if they really cared for their sons would have to move you could be beaten you could have your head smashed in a men's room because you were looking the wrong way or the you know you know big dicks are hypnotic you know and people just tend to look I think if they straight okay sometimes you see that but it could be wrong it could be I saw fights on the bus all of a sudden a man got up and bloody this guy was the normal looking guy for looking at him it was two in the morning they could coax you wait for you to say something then punch you
your school could find out your job could find out you'll never be the same people would make fun of you all the time I sort of happened to people I sort of happened to them I just didn't want to happen to me I never did anything in my neighborhood I just that's why I did outside the neighborhood but I saw what happened to people oh yes well we really were considered if not sick treatables that means you were sick we were treatable I remember telling my psychiatrist before the storm offered that I went to Puerto Rico and as I passed this construction all the men yelled and said thanks to me she said was this in a dream like she couldn't understand that there were other cultures that didn't socially not legally
look at gay people as something that's why we just weren't part of the fabric you know because of American culture too it wasn't like the Puerto Ricans that you know you have it at parties or you're you're part of the group or latins or Arabs even we were just not part of the tapestry I did imagine a different future myself I imagined the future that was going to be difficult but I felt I was up to it but I did feel sorry for other people I remember one time in a bar I was sort of popular with people and this man said to me you know you can go we're going to beat the share of your friends and this kind of exclusivity but that was close to the storm wall and I remember like saying no I cannot do this I said no you've got to let all my friends go all of them all of us or I'm going to stay kids today kids today they don't
know at least New York you know kids would be shocked I think to hear that the stuff went on 30 years ago how many years ago we're talking about you know the turn of the you know we're talking about the 1900s how recently was this and you know it it I guess I just wanted to amass you to comment on like the oppression against gay people we talked about the dark ages and we're talking about the last element dark element of the dark ages I mean it was no different in some ways than the oppression that continues today in Iran only we weren't hung from cranes but we could be lobotomized we could be sedated we could be locked up we could be broken we could have our faces ruined we could be made hideous after a beating we could lose our memory from the beating we could be afraid all our lives we could be in wheelchairs like somewhere we could
have broken our mother's hearts who didn't understand maybe the full implication of what human rights was in this country what could be oh yes it's very just yes hunted hunted sometimes we hunted we could easily be hunted that was a game I knew for my cousin they could hunt gays just tell the cop look he yeah no I was prepared for a much tougher life but uh didn't have to live it I think it'd be nice just to go back to the riots and I had to try to tease up as much detail as you can about running around the streets and dividing the night you know was your like a game of playing cat and mouse with a cop so they chased you around the neighborhood did you get involved in any of that well yes because but you see I was in the center of it I mean lots of stuff was
going on at all points of the riot oh yes in the riot don't forget it was a big riot for I was in the center right in front of the Stonewall and never far away from the Stonewall however much activity was happening all through those blocks that were coming in and there were things going on there was blood being spilled in some cases people were getting beat up I think that some straight guys you know on the far periphery of the riot were thinking well this is a gay riot let's help the cops I mean we were prey to all the things we were prey to like will derby star you know and they always pick you off when you're on the end and they were doing that I know they were doing that but not in the center in the center we were as I said like a kaleidoscope we were just moving it was always moving it was living it was in a me but we were like in a me but we were solving the cops rejecting the cops were solving confrontating going
back sensitive very sensitive I have never seen a group of people so sensitive in my life they knew what was happening that's why I stood my ground what about did the riot police come in yeah they were there you described the key what they looked like when they came in and all that was they were in gear I don't think they anticipated the trouble they were going to have I thought they thought that we were just much effects and we'd be easily subdued but it wasn't we were like like a hydra you did you cut one hand off for the first time the next person stood up it was unbelievable to me it was classicism come true it was the best of the ancients that we carried that spirit that soul that heart we carried all these years through Christianity we have a long memory I knew we had a low memory and it was working it was like speak memory and we spoke it was
wonderful I cannot tell you the thrill I still feel it here yeah it was thrilling it was the only time I was in a gladiatorial sport that you know I stood up in I was proud I was a man we all were even loud queens we were really mad that day just that day and I don't have to get any of us ashamed I almost never happened I'm starting to get a little wet but yeah that's what we were man I'm glad to say that for my father you know because he was a great guy you know he was a tough guy oh I'm sorry yeah and I was doing it too you know for the good faith my parents had in me you know you know my mother being in the wheelchair my father you know he's
a cab driver and he was a tough man he trained boxes and trained fighting jolgs and everybody thought his son was going to be this great man and he believed in me because when he tried to show me knowing I was how to fight with a knife and he said you have to stick some but you have to turn it I couldn't do it and he said but you have your wit and he said if you ever in trouble call me I'll help you or any of your friends and he meant it my father was a great man and my mother was wonderful and my grandmother was delightful oh yes for my grandmother for all those people that backed me up my grandmother said you know she was so happy I was gay because there was a fairy in the house she made it magical it's kind of your feeling your father told you he was about time you're right oh it's just amazing because my father could come with some shocks you know I mean like I was just a man I said do you think so dad he said yeah he said well you're going to
get fucked around by the police all the time so you have to you have to have that's bail money for you you know what was humor doing the night of the riots how did you all use humor well they wasn't much to display that night I mean but of course after was there were and before the right there was you know but I didn't see much humor that was drama now you're ma where did this courage come from that night because you know as you said it's scary there's a police and riot here and you could easily did the right you know the idea is everything for himself right where did you well at the time for me the courage came because you know I grew up near the UN so the world was before me and they're all new nations people were becoming free and now I joined them and they became free I knew from Algerian revolution for there was some blood
involved in freedom I knew that I had stayed at the UN the place going up my whole life oh yeah I'm sorry I'm sorry yeah it was the beginning of taking our place openly in the world it was the beginning of having the memory of what we did for the world it was the beginning of human it was another great step forward in the story of human rights that's what it was I knew that it wasn't just gay people because my mother and father was telling you it was human rights we had to fill out the beautiful rising sun of human rights we had to be part of that ray we had to be one of those rays if it were going to have a new world in which all our talents come together we had done so much for the world you know Caravaggio Da Vinci why can't they say it and they were starting to say it we did a
lot for Caravaggio all those people they could be sung again as who they were and that's what's important it you know William Inge didn't want to name a library or something in his Kansas because he was gay and he did want to make the students be like suffer he was such a heart to disclet you know to to lay so low but now and then Walt Whitman our great poet now it doesn't have to be in a footnote this first was allegedly had male you know it wasn't over it's still not over there's still sure there are big marches around the world but I bet I bet in every one of those marches some gay kids coming up for the first time it's stepping off a curve why is that important to get see people in masses you mean in gay rights struggle yeah I think because as you see this is only because the condition of Iran and the legal condition of the world Arab world in some cases
today in Africa there is a lot of oppression now it can we can fight not just from the New York streets but on the world stage it's become an issue that's what it is that's what we did make it an issue it was a start it wasn't really an end I know that night ended but part of my struggle but like Winston Churchill said it was the end of the beginning like Winston Churchill said that's what it was yeah as you say there was this incredible there parallel civil rights movements groups blacks women Vietnam soldiers that some all these groups fighting for their rights and that was accepted do you know when you think about none of them was it illegal to be black was it illegal to be female can you talk about the difference between
you as a gay person in the 60s versus these other groups in terms of legality yes in the 60s a lot of gay people had social consciousness of course because we were oppressed and we were so diversified and we were in a very good position choose any kind of talent we had to help and we did help every group but we just didn't think there was no platform to help ourselves do you think it's partly because yes it was the group it was the group that many could be ashamed of I think the blacks weren't accepting James Baldwin and his voice they were ashamed when they found out he was gay and openly gay I think that I mean with the laws treating you differently it wasn't really illegal to be gay it wasn't legal to act what was illegal about being gay well the essence of it it was sort of like the church you know like we don't kill anybody we hand you over the secular
arm you know they kill you we don't you know we're spiritual they're temporal and it was like you know it was like that I mean what was the point of that again yeah there was just sort of an interesting idea that there's okay the law you could be gay but you couldn't ask right what that yeah which is a little puts you in a tougher position than let's say being black or female yeah yeah also fighting for real well the expression of yourself is legal I mean it's very clever it's like the three articles of clothing you know yes you can be gay in America you can be gay but don't act it don't act on it and don't corrupt other people to me it was a red flag I was going to fight for my life one way or the other because I had mushroomed and floured into this world of beating next
I did I did know what it was to be accepted by any kind of people but some people didn't know what acceptance was at all and that was you know the sorrow the sorrow was for others you know because you're as a gay person you loved others they were your friends we know we were small group in many ways and you didn't want to see your friends there was no shot in Freud you know a friend got arrested you were like all this was at me you know they deserved it was like oh it could be me it could be me and you'd always teach somebody something even if they were like six months older just got to New York look for the shoes ask a policeman to the policeman don't go over there if they're too good looking be careful miss thing be careful we and it was and then the older gays would make us read all these books from the list of 100 great books at the library if they were older they would say no if you could go carry on in the street all you want but read some books we were always like a that ancient thing of Plato to give the young older giving the younger we were receiving a lot
of history a lot of information we were together we just didn't have an opportunity to act together and Stonewell created that I mean you know if you had an alter a boyfriend then you would read these books and then we can be oh no everything was hidden everything was hidden no nothing was like open no you were told this stuff because it was the stuff I'm sure slaves told each other in different societies of the world how to survive and how to keep the Hebrews or whatever how to keep it together we taught each other those things and they were painful lessons and we lessen the pain of each group behind us by making them aware for warned us wrong so I mean no no we did a very good job in the grapevine we did a very good job communicating what you needed to do to survive you know is there are there any people were missing data hard to mention any sort of figures
you thought were important around the stone wall in that than I'm missing well you were Ed Murphy was just a big man that was important and I knew he was important so I never was sassy never crossed him but didn't have any dealings with it because I was a little afraid of him
American Experience
Stonewall Uprising
Raw Footage
Interview with Martin Boyce, 3 of 4
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WGBH Educational Foundation
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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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.
Raw Footage Description
In this interview, Martin Boyce discusses homophobia and oppression in the 1950's and 1960's, as well as LGBTQ culture at the time. Topics include early gay cultural icons and literary figures; cruising, drag, and bar culture in Greenwich Village; and police brutality and bar raids. Boyce also discusses his personal experience at Stonewall and the impact and legacy of the uprising.
Copyright 2011 WGBH Educational Foundation
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Interviewee: Boyce, Martin
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Chicago: “American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Martin Boyce, 3 of 4,” 2011-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 20, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Martin Boyce, 3 of 4.” 2011-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 20, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; Stonewall Uprising; Interview with Martin Boyce, 3 of 4. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from