Category Archives: Stonewall

Dancing Queen

Dancing Queen
ABBA

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen

Friday night and the lights are low
Looking out for the place to go
Where they play the right music, getting in the swing
You come in to look for a king
Anybody could be that guy
Night is young and the music’s high
With a bit of rock music, everything is fine
You’re in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance…

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen

You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on
Leave them burning and then you’re gone
Looking out for another, anyone will do
You’re in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance…

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen

I love ABBA. You can always sing along to their music. Since the release of “Dancing Queen,” it has been adopted by the LGBT community, and remains one of the most ubiquitous “gay anthems.” I had a host of gay anthems I could have chosen from, including “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, or a classic like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sung by Judy Garland, but since I’d chosen three disco songs, I chose to stick with disco.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, forty-seven years ago today, riots broke out at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. If you don’t know much about the Stonewall Riots or you just want to refresh you memory, click on this link (STONEWALL) and you’ll be taken to a series of blog posts that emerged from a paper I once wrote on the subject. We’ve come a very long way since 1969.


Two Anniversaries: 45 Years Ago and 100 Years Ago

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Forty-five years ago today, in a small tavern in New York City, history was made. The Stonewall Riots not only sparked a movement, but changed history and, eventually, helped millions of people embrace their true identity.
In 2014, marriage equality is sweeping the nation, gay men and women can proudly and openly serve their country and we are leading the charge.

There was a time when LGBT people were forced to hide in the shadows, their way of life criminalized – marriage wasn’t even a consideration. Police would raid gay bars (if they weren’t getting paid off by the owners) and arrest people on the spot if they didn’t have identification, or if they were in drag.

But in 1969, came the biggest moment in the history of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement: the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

On Saturday, June 28, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. This was routine at the time, but this raid would be like no other before. As police they were lining bar-goers up for inspection, all hell broke loose.

“When they came in the door, they were pushing and shoving people,” said Tree, a bartender at the Stonewall Inn who was there when the riots happened. “They actually pushed this guy with a mustache — who turned out to be a lesbian with a mustache — and it took two cops to pull her off the cops.

“[Storme DeLarverie, who recently died at 94] was arrested with a few other people, he continued. “When the cops came in, my friends Fred, Charlie and I kicked the plywood wall out this door. There were like 30 of us out here. Within a few hours, it was 3, 4, 500 people. The cops were afraid to leave the building.”

“We broke the window, broke the wall behind the window, we pulled a parking meter out of the ground and used it as a battering ram to knock the doors in,” he said, pointing at the Stonewall’s now open doors, which wafted a bit of air conditioning and bar smell out on Christopher Street. “But when you start a bar on fire — with the police in it — that’s when the riot squad did come. Because we lit the garbage cans on fire and threw them through the windows.”

The riots became national news the next day, and what was just one night of chaos turned into an organized movement with LGBT groups popping up around the city, and soon, around the country.

“To me, Stonewall is an act from people who were tired of being pushed into the shadows of society, taking a stand for their human dignity,” said Susanna Aaron, a volunteer working for Stonewall’s 45th anniversary. “There was a moment of fury which was these riots at this bar but this community turned it into a real political movement with very clear goals.”

Today, when states are reexamining their gay marriage bans (Indiana just overturned theirs on Wednesday), the Stonewall Riots’ significance in the fight toward equality is recognized even more strongly.

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Now, after 45 years, 19 states out of the 50 have legal gay marriage — not even half of the U.S. Will it take another 45 years to unify the country? Some think it’ll be five, but for others the completion of gay marriage is not about time, but a question of being vigilant.

For LGBT Americans, the Stonewall Riots began our march toward equality, but 100 years ago today, the world changed. It’s innocence was lost, never to return.

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One hundred years ago today in Sarajevo, a Serb nationalist shot to death at point-blank range Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. Their deaths triggered the chain of events that led a month later to the start of World War I — the Great War, a horrifying, bloody four-year conflict that killed some 14 million people, collapsed empires and redrew large parts of the world’s map.

The most fascinating thing to me is that it almost didn’t happen. The main attempt on the archduke’s life had been botched. It wasn’t until a wrong turn on the way to visit the hospital and those injured in the first botched attempt that Gavrilo Princip, the archduke’s killer, walked out of a deli to find the archduke’s retinue stopped in front of the store. He had believed the plan had failed, but took the opportunity to shoot the archduke and his wife. Had the archduke’s car not made a wrong turn, had Princip been delayed in e deli a few more minutes, or had the archduke not been sewn into his uniform (apparently he’d gained a little weight and the sewed on uniform had kept doctors from being able to save him)…the world could have been a vastly different place today.

In Sarajevo, the assassination is being marked with commemorations, concerts and exhibitions. The fault lines of a century ago remain all too real, with the country’s ethnically divided politics still a cauldron of animosities. “Sarajevo is now a symbol of a century of wars in Europe but we are here to talk about peace and reconciliation,” said Joseph Zimet, the head of the organization planning the commemoration.

On the eve of the centennial, Bosnian Serbs unveiled a statue to Princip who is considered a Serbian hero and freedom-fighter. A century after the assassination, the rest of the world would likely consider him — and the underground, radical nationalist network he was operating within — a state-sponsored terrorist. The Austrians back then certainly did, and looked at Belgrade, capital of the young nation of Serbia, as the source of the conspiracy.

What happened next, as Winston Churchill put it, was a “drama never surpassed.” Ferdinand’s death presented leading statesmen in Europe’s great powers both a crisis and an opportunity and led to a dizzying series of diplomatic maneuvers, secret negotiations and political escalations that underlay the explosive opening of World War I. A web of alliances between Europe’s competing empires — a “concert” — led to Russia coming in on the side of the Serbs, Germany countering Russia, and Britain, France and the waning Ottoman Empire also entering the fray.

Sean McMeekin, a professor at Koc University in Istanbul, chronicles the weeks that followed Ferdinand’s murder in “July 1914,” a riveting account published this year of how the war started. McMeekin and a whole tradition of World War I historians argue that even after Ferdinand’s assassination, war was not a fait accompli. Indeed, in Europe and across the pond in the United States, many learning of the archduke’s death were less concerned with the drumbeats of war than the question of Austrian succession.

As we mark the war’s centennial, there will be time yet to explore its legacy and effects. What McMeekin and other historians emphasize, though, was that the war was the creation of a coterie of political elites, each fueled by their own lust for greater power.

No one was guiltless in the build-up. This year, in Britain, there’s already been an animated debate about how to remember World War I. Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove lambasted “leftist” historians and commentators who cast it as a “misbegotten shambles,” a series of catastrophic mistakes by mustachioed monarchs and cabinet ministers. Instead, Gove argued it was a “just war” against the “ruthless Social Darwinism” of the Germans.

This is a view not shared by many. Germany was punished most in the war’s aftermath, with its Kaiser Wilhelm II — an ambitious expansionist — made out to be the chief villain. But they were hardly alone in their imperial delusions, with the French, the British and most importantly the Russians — whose Czarist leadership still harbored plans to conquer Istanbul, that ancient Rome of the east — all guilty of fanning the flames.

But it’s curious to imagine what would have happened had the archduke survived the assassination. A relative liberal, he had “an almost religious aversion to the idea of war with Serbia,” writes McMeekin, no matter his contempt for the Serbs.

But there were always larger forces in play. An imperialistic arms race in Europe had been building up in the years before. Ethnic nationalism in the margins of fraying empires asked difficult questions of the delicate “concert” of power that was in place on the continent. A reckoning, many argue, was inevitable.

In my opinion the assassination of Franz Ferdinand marks the beginning of the Modern World. We are still dealing with the repercussions of the fall of the Austo-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. The old imperialistic empires that remained would linger through World War II and be nearly completely gone by the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, but we must still deal with the problems of countries that were raped of resources by European (and American) imperialists. The fallout of World War I and the subsequent Paris Peace Conference, particularly the Treaty of Verailles, has had a long lasting effect on the world, and nearly every problem in the world today can be traced back to the events set off by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.


Stonewall Uprising

Stonewall Uprising . American Experience . WGBH | PBS

When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City on June 28, 1969, the street erupted into violent protests 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.

In this 90-minute film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE draws upon eyewitness accounts and rare archival material to bring this pivotal event to life. Based on David Carter’s critically acclaimed book, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, Stonewall Uprising was produced by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.

For more information about the beginnings of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States and the Stonewall Riots, please check out my series of post on Stonewall.


Stonewall Riots

Something unremarkable happened on June 27, 1969 in New York’s Greenwich Village, an event which had occurred a thousand times before across the U.S. over the decades. The police raided a gay bar. The events that followed marked the beginnings of the Gay Rights Movement.  


The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.


For more information about the beginnings of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States and the Stonewall Riots, please check out my series of post on Stonewall.

HAPPY GAY PRIDE!!!

Gay Rights Movement: Post-Stonewall

This post continues a new series on The Closet Professor about the history of the early gay rights movement. Most if not all of you have heard of the Stonewall Riots, and though most people credit Stonewall with the beginning of gay rights, there were precursors to the movement. This series is based on a paper I once wrote about the gay rights movement but has been updated to some extent. I hope you enjoy it and find it informative.
image image Not all gays believed that the riots and “revolution” were a good thing. The older and more wealthy gay men who frequented Fire Island in the summer either ignored the riots or were embarrassed by then. They belonged to the beliefs of the Mattachine Society who believed in assimilation and accommodationist tactics. The Mattachines wanted gays to act like heterosexuals and thus blend into the greater society.[1] The differences between the accommodationists and the liberationist will be a trend in gay politics to this day.
image On the evening of July 4, 1969, the New York Mattachine Society called a meeting. The purpose of the gathering was to stop anymore riots and to get gays and lesbians to follow more closely their view of how the revolution should proceed, mainly for them to act like straight people and gain respect among normal society. Most of the gays in the room that night were tired of the Mattachine’s tactics. They wanted a new movement, one that challenged what normal was, one that was more militant, and one in which they did not have to change who they were. That night, the gays and lesbians at the Mattachine Society meeting formed the beginnings of the Gay Liberation Front.[2]
image The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) never had the same organizational hierarchy that the Mattachine Society had. The GLF allowed for each chapter to move in its own direction and determine how best to achieve their overall goals in their local area. The GLF was also more visible than many people actually preferred to be, but for the GLF to succeed they had no choice but to use the “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” tactics.[3] The GLF had their share of splinter groups and unlikely alliances, such as with the Black Panthers.
image The gay liberation movement also moved into more proper politics in the early 1990s. The AIDS epidemic took a great deal of the steam out of the movement that had continued to build during the seventies. In the early nineties, groups like the Human Rights Council, the largest gay and lesbian political action committee, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund tackled legislative and legal issues pertaining to gay and lesbian rights. Gays and lesbians even entered the political arena with a branch of the Democratic Party, the Stonewall Democrats, and with a branch of the Republican Party, the Log Cabin Republicans. The same old issues of whether gays should assimilate into society or make society accept them for who they are and at the same time have equal rights are still apparent in the splits that exist within the gay community.[4]


[1]Ibid., 206-207.
[2]Ibid., 211-212.
[3]James T. Sears, Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 60, 64.
[4]Benjamin H. Shepard, “The Queer/Gay Assimilationist: The Suits vs. the Sluts,” Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine 53:1 (May 2001): 49-63.
Further Reading:
“ 4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’ Raid,” The New York Times, 29 June 1969.
Duberman, Martin. 1994. Stonewall. New York: Plume.
“Hostile Crowd Dispersed Near Sheridan Square,” New York Times, 3 July 1969.
Meeker, Martin. 2001. “Behind the Mask of Respectability: Reconsidering the Mattachine Society and Male Homophile Practice, 1950s and 1960s.” Journal of the History of Sexuality. 1:78-116.
“Police Again Rout ‘Village’ Youths,” New York Times, 30 June 1969.
Sears,James T. 2001. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Shepard, Benjamin H. 2001. “The Queer/Gay Assimilationist: The Suits vs. the Sluts.” Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine 53:1, 49-63.
Smith, Howard. “Full Moon Over the Stonewall,” The Village Voice, 3 July 1969.
Suran, Justin David. 2001. “Coming Out Against the War: Antimilitarism and the Politicization of Homosexuality in the Era of Vietnam.” American Quarterly 3: 452-488.
Truscott,Lucian, IV. “Gay Power Comes To Sheridan Square.” The Village Voice. 3 July 1969.
“Village Raid Stirs Melee.” New York Post. 28 June 1969.


Gay Rights Movement: Stonewall Riots

This post continues a new series on The Closet Professor about the history of the early gay rights movement.  Most if not all of you have heard of the Stonewall Riots, and though most people credit Stonewall with the beginning of gay rights, there were precursors to the movement.  This series is based on a paper I once wrote about the gay rights movement but has been updated to some extent.  I hope you enjoy it and find it informative.
image While the two movements described by Meeker and Suran are precursors of the gay liberation movement sparked by the Stonewall Riots, the most often cited catalyst of the gay liberation movement is the series of riots that began on the night of Friday, June 27, 1969, after a raid on the Stonewall Inn, which continued for the next three nights. Raids of gay bars in New York City, particularly Greenwich Village, were not uncommon in the summer of 1969, what made the raid on the Stonewall on June 27 so different was that the patrons of the bar resisted instead of going peacefully.
1post The New York Post was the first of the New York newspapers to report the raid and the first “melee” that followed the raid. The Post described the scene following the raid on the Stonewall Inn, “a tavern frequented by homosexuals at 53 Christopher St.” The raid was staged because of the unlicensed sale of liquor. On that first night twelve people were arrested with charges ranging from assault to disorderly conduct because of the impromptu riot that soon ensued. As the police drove away with those in custody from the raid, the newspaper describes how “hundreds of passerby” shouted “Gay Power” and “We Want Freedom” while laying siege to the bar with “an improvised battering ram, garbage cans, bottles and beer cans in a protest demonstration.” More police were sent to 53 Christopher Street where the disturbance raged for more than two hours.[1]
1times1 For the next two days and again on July 3, the New York Times ran small pieces about the “Village Raid.” On June 29, the Times reported that shortly after 3 a.m. on the previous day, that the bar had been raided. About two hundred patrons were thrown out of the bar and soon were joined by about two hundred more in protest of the raid. Police seized several cases of liquor from the establishment, which the police stated was operating without a liquor license. The Times reported that the “melee” lasted for only about forty-five minutes after the raid before the crowd dispersed and thirteen people in all were arrested with four policemen suffering injuries, one a broken wrist. The June 29 article also stated that the raid was one of three conducted in the last two weeks, and on the night of June 28, “throngs of young men congregated outside the inn. . .reading aloud condemnations of the police.” [2] image The June 30 edition of the newspaper stated that on the early morning of June 29, a crowd of about four hundred gathered again on Christopher street and a Tactical Patrol Unit was called in to control the disturbance at about 2:15 a.m. The crowd was throwing bottles and lighting small fires. With their arms linked, the police made sweeps down Christopher Street from the Avenue of the Americas to Seventh Avenue, but the crowds merely moved into side streets and reformed behind the police. Those who did not move out of the way of the police line were pushed along and two men were clubbed to the ground. Stones and bottles were thrown at the police and twice the police broke ranks to charge the crowd. Three people were arrested on charges of harassment and disorderly conduct. The June 30 article also states that the crowd gathered again on the evening of June 29 to denounce the police for “allegedly harassing homosexuals.” Graffiti painted on the boarded up windows of the inn stated “Support gay power” and “Legalize gay bars.”[3] A July 3, article in the New York Times stated that a chanting crowd of about five hundred gathered again outside the Stonewall Inn and had to be dispersed by the police, while four protestors were arrested.[4]
1nyt0703 On July 3, 1969, The Village Voice published two, more substantial articles on the incidents surrounding the Stonewall Inn. Of the two articles, Lucian Trusctott IV’s article is written in a tongue-in-cheek style focusing on the several days of riots that ensued after the first raid. Truscott reports that the crowd, which returned on Saturday night, were being led by “gay power” cheers: “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We have no underwear/ We show our pubic hair!” The article is mostly sympathetic to the gay cause and quotes Allen Ginsberg, a gay activist, stated “Gay Power! Isn’t that great! We’re one of the largest minorities in the country–10 percent, you know. It’s about time we did something to assert ourselves.” Truscott is prophetic when he end his article by stating:

We reached Cooper Square, and as Ginsberg turned to head toward home, he waved and yelled, “Defend the fairies!” and bounce on across the square. He enjoyed the prospect of “gay power” and is probably working on a manifesto for the movement right now. Watch out. The liberation is under way![5]

The other article, by Howard Smith, is much more subdued. Smith, a reporter for the Voice, only relates the night of the raid, when he stayed with the police for protection. Although his article is not exactly pro-gay, Smith does offer some interesting observations that the other reports of the Stonewall Riots leave out. imageFirst of all, Smith reports on the number of men in drag that actually fight back. All other reports in The New York Times and The New York Post only state that the young men who resisted the police were young men, but Smith states that their were men in drag and a number of lesbians who resisted the police. Smith also describes in detail the “melee” especially concerning the attack on the police wagon while he was inside with the police for protection against the mob. Lastly, Smith points out the connection with the bar being owned by the mafia, although he only states that the men who own and run the establishment are Italians. Smith does relate that statements to the police were basically: “we are just honest businessmen, who are being harassed by the police because we cater to homosexuals, and because our names are Italian so they think we are part of something bigger.”[6]
imageWhile the newspapers provide a glimpse at the reaction of the New York press as the riots were happening, several further accounts were later retold in memoirs of the Riot. The most thorough account is given by Martin Duberman in his book Stonewall. Mostly through oral history interviews, Duberman is able to relate the events of the Stonewall Riots with more accuracy than the accounts in the New York City newspapers.
No one really knows what set off the “flash of anger” that began the riots. Most of the people who were there just say that all of a sudden the crowd grew angry and either began throwing bottles or trying to free one of the men in drag who were being arrested.[7] Even if it cannot be determined what set off the anger that went through the crowd, it must be asked, why that night. 1times2Many factors could have contributed to why the people in the Stonewall Inn fought back. It could have been because most of them had reached their breaking point, with the criminalization of their behavior to the Vietnam War that had raged for the last four years in the living rooms of every American with a television. One interesting theory could be that with Judy Garland’s funeral earlier that day, the men in the Stonewall Inn were distraught over losing their greatest icon. Probably what compounded most of the anger that rushed through the crowd was that most of the patrons were high on some type of drugs.[8] Another factor was that the raid occurred early in the morning. Usually raids happened earlier in the evening so that the bar could open back up. Police were being bribed, so raids were rarely major incidents.[9]
  Once the crowd did begin to fight back, the fervor of rebellion and the feeling that a revolution was happening among the gay community swept through the crowd.[10] No longer were gays going to work with the system to make themselves feel more normal. They wanted to be accepted for who they were, not for who the establishment wanted them to be. African-Americans had made great strides in their civil rights struggle, and women were just beginning to make strides for women’s liberation and equality. As pointed out by Alan Ginsberg earlier, gays and lesbians were a large minority in the United States. If they could make themselves heard, this could change everything for them. No longer would they be forced to only socialize with each other in dank and dingy, mafia owned bars, that could be raided at anytime and served watered down drinks so the owners could make more money. The law in New York City stated that a person must wear at least three articles of clothing appropriate to one’s own gender.[11] Gay bars were not allowed to have a liquor license and most were not allowed to have dancing.


“[1]Village Raid Stirs Melee,” New York Post, 28 June 1969.
“[2]4 Policemen Hurt in ‘Village’ Raid,” The New York Times, 29 June 1969, 33.
“[3]Police Again Rout ‘Village’ Youths,” New York Times, 30 June 1969, 22.
“[4]Hostile Crowd Dispersed Near Sheridan Square,” New York Times, 3 July 1969.
[5]Lucian Truscott IV, “Gay Power Comes To Sheridan Square,” The Village Voice, 3 July 1969, 18.
[6]Howard Smith, “Full Moon Over the Stonewall,” The Village Voice, 3 July 1969, 25.
[7]Martin Duberman, Stonewall, (New York: Plume, 1994), 196-197.
[8]Ibid., 181-196.
[9]Ibid., 194-195.
[10]Ibid., 198.
[11]Ibid., 196.


Gay Rights Movement: The Anti-War Movement

This post continues a new series on The Closet Professor about the history of the early gay rights movement.  Most if not all of you have heard of the Stonewall Riots, and though most people credit Stonewall with the beginning of gay rights, there were precursors to the movement.  This series is based on a paper I once wrote about the gay rights movement but has been updated to some extent.  I hope you enjoy it and find it informative.
For some more information about the history of Gays in the Military, check out this article from Time Magazine: Brief History of Gays in the Military.
image In more modern times, the United States and most countries of the world criminalized homosexuality (sodomy) and therefore banned gay men and women from serving in the military. The Mattachine Society, founded in 1950, was one of the earliest homophile (gay rights) organizations in the United States, probably second only to Chicago’s short-lived Society for Human Rights (1924). Harry Hay and a group of Los Angeles male friends formed the group to protect and improve the rights of homosexuals. Because of concerns for secrecy and the founders’ leftist ideology, they adopted the cell organization of the Communist Party. In the anti-Communist atmosphere of the 1950s, the Society’s growing membership substituted a more traditional ameliorative civil rights leadership style and agenda for the group’s early Communist model. Then as branches formed in other cities, the Society splintered in regional groups by 1961.
Youths rebelled against older homophile organization, which often refused to take a stance on the Vietnam War. Young gay men had to chose whether or not to reveal or conceal their homosexuality when they came before the draft image board, because with the draft board being composed of local citizens, this could mean being outed to friends, neighbors or parents. The dilemma faced by gay youths polarized the gay liberation movement and gay youths joined in on the antiwar protests.[1] While older homophile organizations saw non-participation of homosexuals in the American military as detrimental to gay rights, youths of the antiwar stance saw it as a positive good. Suran contends that there are four major assertions by gay men in the antiwar movement. First, young homophiles saw military service as politically and morally counterproductive. Second, they declared war as a masculine affront to gay men. They cited the “effiminist” nature of homosexual men and refused to participate in macho role playing. Third, the young activists viewed imperialism as an extension of heterosexist ideology. Finally, they perceived homosexuality itself as antiwar antiestablishment, and anti-imperialist. With these four beliefs, young homophiles refused to embrace the older homophile tradition of assimilation in to “normal” society through military service.[2]
image Though the Mattachine Society fell apart by the 1970s, one of their focuses was on protesting the US policy against gays serving in the military. They believed they could serve their country in any capacity, whether it be in government (gay men and women were not allowed to serve in government positions because their sexuality could be used as a basis for blackmail by communist spies) or in the military.
When more public gay rights groups formed after the 1969 Stonewall Riots, image gay men had moved away from support for military service. With the Vietnam War and the draft still very much a reality, gay rights groups turned their backs on the issue of military service because they did not want to be drafted. However, the government also turned their backs on the ban and forced many gay men who were drafted to serve, deciding that they needed the manpower more than they needed to uphold the ban on military service. In the United States today, sodomy is no longer illegal thanks to the Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, and in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Therefore there is no legal or medical reason that can be used to deny gay men and women the right to serve openly in the military.
image


[1]Justin David Suran, “Coming Out Against the War: Antimilitarism and the Politicization of Homosexuality in the Era of Vietnam,” American Quarterly 53, no. 3 (2001): 453.
[2]Ibid., 471-472.

Next: The Stonewall Riots


Gay Rights Movement: Introduction

This post begins a new series on The Closet Professor about the history of the early gay rights movement.  Most if not all of you have heard of the Stonewall Riots, and though most people credit Stonewall with the beginning of gay rights, there were precursors to the movement.  This series is based on a paper I once wrote about the gay rights movement but has been updated to some extent.  I hope you enjoy it and find it informative.
The summer of 1969 showed the best and worst of America. In June, President Nixon announced Vietnamization as a way to get America out of image the Vietnam War, which reminds me a lot of our present policy of Iraqization of the now (supposedly) ended war in Iraq. Man stood on the moon for the first time on July 16 with the Apollo 11 landing. In August, Woodstock demonstrated to the world the epitome of the flower children’s culture and the height of the counter culture movement. While such events were celebrated in American culture, the summer of 1969 was also marked by a series of tragedies. Judy Garland died from an overdose of drugs. The Manson Family murdered actress Sharon Tate, her unborn child, and four others in Bel Air, California, in what has image become known as Helter Skelter. Mary Jo Kopechne died in a drunk driving accident with Ted Kennedy in Chapppaquiddick, Massachusetts. And 248 people perished in Mississippi when Hurricane Camille crashed into the Gulf Coast. The Civil Rights Movement was also going through a change. With the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis in 1968, the end had come to the classic period of the Civil Rights Movement. The movement was becoming more radical and began to splinter off into more groups of people, including women and the gay and lesbian community.
With the Stonewall Riots, the modern gay and lesbian rights movement had its beginnings in Greenwich Village, New York, during the summer of 1969. image The Stonewall Riots marked a change in the direction of the gay liberation movement that had been brewing since the end of World War II with the founding of the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles with chapters in New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Gays and lesbians worked with the Civil Rights Movement, participated in the anti-war movement, and kept their sexuality in the background. But the “Friends of Dorothy” and “Daughters of Bilitis” were determined to no longer stay in the background and have homosexuality criminalized as it had been in the past. On the night of June 27, 1969, the gays and lesbians in the Stonewall Inn fought back after a police raid, and the modern gay liberation movement was born and would continue to grow as gay pride marches marked the subsequent anniversaries of the Stonewall Riots each year in New York during the month of June.
Although most historians of the gay liberation movement place the climax of image the beginning of the modern movement on the Stonewall Riots, some west coast historians give the metropolitan centers of the movement as Los Angeles and San Francisco in the fifties with the founding of the Mattachine Society, the earliest homophile activist organization, and the antiwar movement in San Francisco during the sixties. Martin Meeker of the University of Southern California presented a re-evaluation of the Mattachine Society in his article “Behind the Mask of Respectability: Reconsidering the Mattachine Society and Male Homophile Practice 1950s and 1960s,” and Justin David Suran of the University of California, Berkeley examines the effects of the Vietnam War on the gay liberation movement in “Coming Out Against the War: Antimilitarism and the Politicization of Homosexuality in the Era of Vietnam.”
Next: The Mattacine Society
Announcement:  I have decided that I will try something new with The Closet Professor.  Most college classes either meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays or on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Therefore, I have decided that The Closet Professor, which has a very loyal but also relatively small following, will begin posting only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  These posts take more time to put together than the posts on my other blog, so I have chosen to give you quality not quantity.  I love this blog, and it is the blog I love to do: teach.  I hope that you will continue to read and comment as the posts slow down just a bit.  Occasionally, I will randomly post things for other days as the mood strikes but for now, I plan to follow the new schedule.
Thanks for reading.


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