thumbnail of OutCasting; Stonewall at 50 — the uprising in context (Part 1 of 3)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
set policeman to support a question that especially in the restrooms to trap game then what they just tried it would try to get them on the street they hated us and they were out to be allowed to use the water and lock you up for public radio's hq youth program we don't have to be here to be here of passing is a production of media for the public good a listener supported independent producer based in new york online about casting good dot org hi i'm andrew asking for just in this one june twenty nineteen marks the fiftieth anniversary of the stonewall rebellion in nineteen sixty nine stonewall inn was a gay bar in iraq city's greenwich village in those days the police raids of gay bars were commonplace news fever is often printed the names and sometimes the photos of people arrested during these raids
being publicly outed as lgbt q in this way could lead to the loss of homes jobs and families during one such raid on a hot night in late nineteen sixty nine patrons at the stonewall inn grows up and fought against police this led to a series of riots over the next several nights in the wake of the stonewall uprising new activist groups were formed into court and the stonewall uprising thus marked a major turning point in lgbt q aston many of the tribal regions around the world commemorate events are still working to nineteen sixty nine you're at a casting we're celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the stonewall uprising by talking with andy home of air and a journalist and activist based in new york city and the series we discuss lgbt q history and activism since before stonewall and how things have seen since then this is part one of the series and the home welcome to our passing like you andrew we're now celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the stonewall uprising often considered the spark of the modern gay rights
movement that's not necessarily true since it was more of a marker of a turning point then because of the turning point but either way stone wall marked significant changes in the gay rights movement to what jesus anniversary to look back on the modern gay rights movement so we're going to start talking about what life was like for lgbt people before the early activism of the daughters of the lettuce and the magazine society that are so what were some of the laws against lgbt people at that point wow they've had laws against sodomy meaning even consensual day lovemaking for ever even in the united states of america we have the death penalty for sodomy back in colonial days thomas jefferson tried to change that to castration and was unsuccessful so the laws were terrible i mean even in great britain the last people to be hanged for sodomy were wasn't about eighteen thirty something i think some laws were terrible but they kept the sodomy laws on the books
for a long long long long time so we were sort of a criminal class and of course every major religion condemned us it was it was not a good scene but having said all that gay people always found each other people always have relationships obviously they had begun sub rosa there's a famous thing that lesbians did they had what they called boston marriages were to women would get together and live together maybe they were just referred to in the town or spinsters or something but they were lovers so that we always have gay life but it took a long long time for people to be able to live openly thought that point howard gay people english identify talent well gabler don't worry that people pick up on the way and people look at each other sometimes those things are misinterpreted i mean everything's in the eighty nine these were men would parade around with red ties and in order to be seen and their work there always seemed to develop places that gay people could go in new york there were bars that madonna been
completely gay but people know that they could go there and meet other men who were like themselves there were places and parks in greenwich village which was sort of painted place for debuted well for a long long time there were various streets where people knew that they could walk and the police yes would harass people and they'd have to move on and then they'd find another street but they've been doing that for years so that we were the consequences of being found out maybe well you could be arrested you could be put in jail you could serve a long prison sentence i mean i'm sixty five years old but i know guys in their eighties and that it's hard to find any of the mold didn't have one bad experience with the lot where they were arrested and the oftentimes it was a shakedown they just wanna get some money out of you or you'd have to pay a lot of money for this warrior who would get you out of trouble it was very very rapid of course you know if you tried to live an open life you're limiting your chances of employment severely so very few
people in very few professions were able to be anything like out i mean look what happened oscar wilde after all he was put in jail for two years and at ninety seven died shortly thereafter so starting with pre stonewall activism in the nineteen fifties tell us about the diaries of politeness and the managing society and their significance actually there's an earlier gay group in illinois called the society for individual rights i think so or unlike the nineteen twenties in illinois you know which was so the people getting together and even the people who formed about assurance society nineteen fifty five they had had an earlier group called bachelor's for wallace because henry wallace was a leftist and he had been vice president states and they wanted him to be president united states in nineteen forty eight so they form that group because a lot of the people for merely groups were leftists it
didn't stay that way for long but people like harry hay who was one of the main founders of the mansion society was and they are people got together starting in california and then they form chapters around the country too try to advocate for themselves in some way and sometimes that meant standing up or somebody who'd been arrested on a morals charge and trying to break that the door has a blight is that was a lesbian group that again started more of a social group and then back in nineteen fifty five which was two years after i was born and one of the founders i know is still alive phyllis lyon with tom morton so again these groups started sort of that was a way of just for people to be with each other which itself was gonna very dangerous but they get it and that sort of started the ball rolling in the movement still in the fifties where gay activists focused more on assimilating into mainstream society or rebellion well i
mean obviously most gay people try to assimilate tried to live underground essentially most the people the orders survive had to enter heterosexual marriages sometimes a lesbian and a gay man would get married for cover but most didn't end of course this was very bad for the whole family and sometimes you'd have been sexual side reporter the side whatever it was that it was a terrible situation and of course world war to happen and that brought a lot of gay people from around the country to the big cities like los angeles and san francisco and new york right as their ports of departure for the war and when they got to the cities they did see there were a lot of people wanting to get life and they never went back to iowa they stayed here i am and there was a certain level of tolerance but the laws were that melanie work laws were bad for a long time we need to get rid of the sodomy laws in new york until nineteen eighty three court order to tell us about frank
kenny and government policies towards gay people frank kennedy had a personal experience of discrimination in the nineteen fifties and he was still working for the government as an astronomer which was his profession an errand do when they found out that he was gay they fired him and he didn't take it he decided to bring a lawsuit against the government to try to get reinstated it went all the way to the supreme court was refused by them in the butter he explored every opportunity many many years later president obama had him into the white house when he signed an order covering federal employees from discrimination or will that have been done somewhat by previous presidents even jimmy carter had gays in the white house so frank was sort of the original activist in many ways public activist and he was a very fierce speaker and he was roll it was i mean he once appeared before a committee in congress early on in their this is in the
sixties and they said do you know where does your organization how the globe you know as were reading hundreds of thousands of members and he said we told to senator we ought to let you know he was very unapologetic and he coined the term gay is good because some of the early people in sweden some of the gate groups there were gay groups in new york including radish and to some extent a little bit they would have peaked speakers and to tell us how sick we were because under the american psychiatric association we were classified as mentally ill people up until nineteen seventy three and by the way that was a huge breakthrough when activists worked with sympathetic psychiatry is to get us removed from the index of mental disorders it's amazing that they were able to do that nineteen seventy three was the movement was so young in those days so by the sixties where gay activists who are willing to reject mainstream society or consent of more radical i wouldn't call it radical until
after stonewall river you have people like fred comedy and barber getting so dull martin infamous line you had those people but there were very few people took a radical attitude towards activism until stonewall and that's why stone was so significant there had been some previously billions that we've read about right there with compton's cafeteria in san francisco where one of transgender and drag queens and game and hung out at night in san francisco and they were harassed by the police and they fought back in through coffee at them and demonstrated and that led to us a little bit of organizing but the reason stonewall so significant nineteen sixty nine that you had this rebellion and it went on for six nights of people throwing things and march around the village but in the midst of that the gay liberation front was founded and organized right then in the air people went off to rome and they get it and then within short order you had groups proliferating all over the country and again these were the first demonstrations of a friend tammany and
barbara giddings and others did those things called the annual reminder picket at independence hall i believe starting in nineteen sixty five and even before that as an activist named randy weber who picketed the selective service system the draft board because they were classified us as mentally ill and that was the first public demonstration in the united states it was a nineteen sixty four right and downtown new york but again that did lead to a lot of ongoing organizing things just exploded after stonewall why do you think it was that you know before stonewall gay activists say it's a way for you know ideas of radicalism are because i would say a because they wanted to live and be because they want to keep their jobs and they knew it was a matter of survival you know i used to work with a gay youth when i was at the hetrick martin institute and when it came to advising people about coming out in those days not talking about the mid eighties
you'd have to say you can't be sure how your parents are going to react unless you're absolutely sure there's gonna be fine is very hard to do that you better have another place to stay because parents often throw their kids out with a game obviously that happens a lot less people are coming out younger and younger ages now that's terrific but it's still hard for a lot of people a lot of parts of the country and certainly a lot of parts of the world and the idea that openly gay people and some societies you wanna talk about uganda or russia or these places it's very very very very tough what would like fight for lgbt q people living in san francisco or in europe or other major cities in the sixties before stonewall there was gay culture people had partners i have friends who were together in those days in our together to this day they're very old but people met each other and encountered each other and you know got together it's not a new thing but they lived pretty discreet lives you had to be fairly discreet and very hard to come out of a job and i understand over a few images of gay people in the
media i mean there were gay some day images of book than gay people i'm always right since they invented before and they used that sissy characters and some of the lobbies of the nineteen thirties and forties in beyond but today we're not generally positive images they were just all we had was so it was a matter of leading a rather discreet life you have to image and i would say those people were self hating what choice did they have frets just like hey here's an example the em forster is a famous novelist right you ron howard's end dan passage to india english novelist right he wrote again balk and nineteen starting in nineteen thirteen i think called morris based on his own good spirits is heating oil out to be published until after his death in nineteen seventy became a movie but i mean that's what you have to do you have to sort of cover things up there were some writers like gore of a doll who wrote gay themed books in the sixties and he didn't even publicly identify as a gay male but we obviously was
but because of the content of the book that he wrote the new york times was so horrified they wouldn't reveal his books for about fifteen years and he's a very famous novelist so what does the discrimination did on dvd he people face from the law and the police about polling well police made sport out of our resting gay men especially in the restrooms to entrap gay men or they just tried to entrap a gay man on the street they hated us and they were out allowed to use the law to act on it and lock you up for and not something that continues to this day in many parts of the country it's absolutely outrageous and you don't even have to be doing anything they just figure you look gay all rescue and the court will believe me now that's why we had to get rid of the sodomy laws but again they still go after biblical solicitations and to this day they still go after transgender people just walking down the street they say oh your prostitute herself even though you're just transgender just walking down the street this is now testing
the public radio's lgbt youth program produced many of the thirty new online texting me about on june twenty nineteen is the fiftieth anniversary of the stonewall uprising a series of riots that marked a major turning point in the lgbt activists our guest on this podcast series there and gay journalist and activist and you were talking about how you see the light and activism have evolved over the decades so tell us about the rebellion at compton's cafeteria in san francisco nineteen sixty six compton's was a place you could go late at night to get a meal up partly because if you are trans or drag queen not had trouble getting into the gay bars such as they were and so this is where they could hang out compton's didn't particularly like it this was in the tenderloin district and they would often called the police to get them out of there but in nineteen sixty six chance people drag queens gay men were there and please people on compton's once
that once again wanted there to be a sweep of compton's and the police got rough so the patrons fought back through coffee at the police said there was a melee and the police are always shocked when gay people or trans people are drag queens or anybody fights back this is a good time by the way would cross dressing was illegal you had to wear a clothing appropriate your gender you could be arrests did just for that so that's other police used to go after it but i've read about the compton saying and there was some organizing that sort of grew out of it were people protested a bed and tried to form an organization to stand up for themselves but the point is you know and the reason against also important is because it is not something that was very sustained so three years later in nineteen sixty nine the stonewall rebellion toppled in newark city perhaps the most famous moment in lgbt q histories what happened in the buildup to stonewall well building up to the stonewall you have to understand the context of nineteen sixty nine you've already had the civil rights movement right
martin luther king all that martin luther king was you know were murdered in nineteen sixty eight politics was very fractious in the united states if you think it's fragile fractious now i mean there were there were a lot of riots in the streets of those days african americans had risen up in their communities and their work riots all over the place people died in those rights so there was something in the air and a lot of gay people were involved in the civil rights movement whether they were african american or caucasian they were in the bomb the sunrise woman and many people were involved in the anti war movement in nineteen sixty nine so there was that revolution in the air kind of thing going on so these were the kind of people when you oppress them when you went after them they were more willing to protest now who was at the stonewall the stonewall was mostly street kids for the most part and it was not a very nice place from everything i've read according to tommy leggett schmidt was about eighteen at the time and was there was a place with elijah to dance and touch
each other because and gay bars even a new york bureau and to touch each other without being thrown out of the bar talk about just like touching on the shoulder given a hog or something like that so this was a great thing so police routinely raided gay bars in those days usually because they didn't get their pay off from a mafioso who ran the bars and in this case this was just people got their noses out of joint as they started to take people out of the bark to load them into the police wagon people started to fight back and then people started fighting back within the bar outside the bar throwing things the police ended up having to barricade themselves inside the bar for protection they thought they were going to die and this raid was overseen by inspector pie his name was i don't think it's nice that they're raiding gay bars but i will give him credit for one thing he told the police inside that ball are don't use your guns don't fire anybody until i say so because they were throwing garbage cans of the
window they throw molotov cocktail of the place everybody was pretty scared and i think the lgbt people who were part of this rebellion was sort of surprised at themselves as they were standing up to the police eventually they burned a police car and this again this thing went on for six nights and it's part of that is due to the fact that the what that you've ever been down a greenwich village where the stonewall was there is still a bar there called stonewall it's not the original one but the streets are a labyrinth find big they go all over the place and you can go around corners very quickly and easily and it's not like a grid like the rest of the city so they played cat and mouse with six nights it was triggered by the way a decline each but you know that name he just died last year he was the head of the manish in society at the time and he wrote an in person report that night about what happened and one of the things he said you know before stonewall nobody was gay
after stonewall everybody was get fee whole idea of coming out people felt empowered was just contagious among people but the main group that came out of stonewall was the gay liberation front a radical group which only lasted for about two years but it was important so what was the immediate effect of stone on lgbt rights well i mentioned that the gay liberation front was organize but then other groups started sprouting off that are from that and it just gay people a sense that we can do something about the situation that we're in and we're going to fight back so there were all kinds of demonstrations and saps there were so many injustices to fight in those days because we had no rights whatsoever and so when people were discriminated against maybe there'd be a picket line there the gay activists alliance was formed shortly thereafter simply focusing on gay rights and then the lesbian feminist literary she was formed and then by nineteen seventy three it started out some institutionalization groups like lambda legal defense were formed it just blossomed
bubble but blossom you know again i joined the dignity group for gay catholics that was light formed i think around nineteen sixty nine i think of them expand three churches in all of them that religious groups started to come up and things just got rolling very very fast so you mentioned earlier that it wasn't really until after stonewall that gay activists were willing to consider themselves that gore sort of rise up against mainstream society what you think it was a stone will have that effect well i think it was kind of radical just to live a gay life prior to still images to give yourself a daylight to have a partner to go to what gabe establishment to live the life that was kind of a radical thing in itself and as i said there were a few people who ventured out into the streets and had some picketing demonstrations very respectful either at the white house or independence hall in philadelphia or elsewhere around the country they used to have this annual thing in philadelphia the school the annual reminder from the mid sixties to
write up to stonewall and the year of stonewall has this was always held on july the fourth the year of stonewall that so july the fourth is right after stonewall the stonewall happened in june then a lot of the more radical people came down to philadelphia and they weren't willing to put on suits and ties and dresses and when i say dresses i mean the lesbians were told they had to wear dresses at the annual reminder that frank kennedy and barber getting just organize and geez where radicals everybody came out amazon that was the last time they did that but there were demonstrations all the time after that so in nineteen seventy the east coast for filers jason organize the christmas tree lovers and they marched to commemorate the first anniversary of stonewall was the purpose of the smarts well that is a coalition especially craig rodwell from new york or any oscar wilde memorial bookshop which was around even before stonewall i said we need to do something on the anniversary of a
rebellion and there was some resistance this but enough people organize that said they were going to do it and no idea what was going to happen so they started putting up posters around town say we're going out on march and it's going to be on a sunday which is closest to the anniversary of the stonewall rebellion and davis didn't even know if anybody was going to show up and they were kind of scared because they were going to be marching on mouse from greenwich village all the way up to central park for a rally and maybe in the beginning hundreds of people showed up at the village and the police only gave them heft of sixth avenue so there was traffic warning by elmer avenue next to them and they said they were so scared because they got a lot of death threats when they said they were going to do this they almost ran all the way up to central park and by the time they got to the park there were thousands of people in the park but march stretched fifteen blocks
and they had this sort of gay and in the park you can google it and look at the beautiful footage of this thing and can you imagine in a society we had never seen so many gay people together here they all wore and boy that gives you a real sense of empowerment i enjoy and really the moment much into like in seventy five seventy four but when we had our first march on washington in nineteen seventy nine i had the same experience we don't know how many people were going to come down to washington from all over the country and when i saw all these thousands of people i cried you know i'd been an activist for many years it just was so moving into power so tell us about so many other marshes and has inspired forcible people started organizing pride marches and they did come up with that word pride it's interesting apparently they had a debate in nineteen seventy one a regular call this and some be one of the quality power and then some people said where i would eat our brigade tower was in a chant of the day but they said why we want to show that we have
pride in who we are so the word pride came into it but it was called the crystal or street gay liberation march that year and then for many years it was just called the customers treat liberation day march before it changed into an alley in new york they call it something like heritage of pride in not so siskel they call it a political of the freedom day brought freedom day parade and of course now it's done all over the world i mean we constantly hear from its tiny little towns all over the country because i do the daily was a show and we report on these things a tiny little towns having pride marches and then of course there were people who really take the biggest risk of these people in uganda in moscow who will get shot down by the police if they try to do it in some of these eastern european countries as to be tremendous protection by the by the police or even the army for some people to march down the street and in many cases they just try to shut it down but it is something that has proliferated call rumba
world that's all the time we have for now it will continue this conversation and the next edition of the past and andy thanks for joining us to be here and he joined us from his home in newark city the seven part one of a series that's it for this edition of podcasting public radio's ability to teach you the program where you don't have to be cleared to be here at this program have introduced by casting team including the participants alex dunn day with this group and the pentagon thank you for the city's mix of this fast is affectionate media for the public get more information about passing is available at passing media dot org you'll find information about so listen in for all our past episodes of the podcast thoughts on social media facebook twitter instagram youtube and you're having trouble whether the owners to register yourself culture has its hotline at eight six cents
Want to help make this content more accessible? Correct our machine-generated transcript.
Stonewall at 50 — the uprising in context (Part 1 of 3)
Producing Organization
Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
Contributing Organization
Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media (Westchester County, New York)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-2cd6e4aed30).
During the 1960s, gay bars like the Stonewall Inn in New York City were some of the only places where LGBTQ people could meet with each other and simply be themselves. This included people who had been kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ, or people who feared losing their homes, jobs, or families if they were found out. At this time, it was common for the police to raid gay bars, arresting patrons for cross-dressing or for dancing with a member of the same sex. [p] When one such raid happened on the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the people inside fought back against the police, sparking riots outside the bar that lasted for the next several nights. In the aftermath of the Stonewall uprising, many LGBTQ rights groups were formed, and the Stonewall uprising is often cited as a catalyst for the modern gay rights movement. While it may not have caused a turning point, it certainly marked one. [p] In June 2019, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and we want to reflect on how we’ve gotten to where we are today with LGBTQ rights in the United States. In this OutCasting series, OutCaster Andrew speaks with the renowned journalist and activist Andy Humm about the historical progression of LGBTQ life and activism since before Stonewall. Andy is co-host of the television show Gay USA with Ann Northrop, who was interviewed on our earlier OutCasting series on LGBTQ women in AIDS activism. [p] This is a three part series being released in June, July, and August 2019 in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. [p] Part 1: Mid 20th century activism through the Stonewall uprising in 1969.
Asset type
LGBTQ youth
Copyright Media for the Public Good. With the exception of third party-owned material that is contained within this program, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Guest: Andy Humm
Producing Organization: Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media
Identifier: cpb-aacip-4cd919e16e8 (Filename)
Format: Hard Drive
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “OutCasting; Stonewall at 50 — the uprising in context (Part 1 of 3),” 2019-06-01, Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 14, 2021,
MLA: “OutCasting; Stonewall at 50 — the uprising in context (Part 1 of 3).” 2019-06-01. Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 14, 2021. <>.
APA: OutCasting; Stonewall at 50 — the uprising in context (Part 1 of 3). Boston, MA: Media for the Public Good, Inc. / OutCasting Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from