Everyone marks the passage of time and different anniversaries… last weekend marked the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, as well as my 35th anniversary of living in the same city that she and I face every day. When I first arrived, I went to see Lady Liberty with a friend I had met while still in Texas. Florence Bernstein had been the personal assistant of the action star Charles Bronson as well as Shirley McClaine as well as the man who I met her through, architect and heir to the de Menil fortune, Francios de Menil. Florence was born in New York and was in her mid 50s and had NEVER even seen the Statue of Liberty – believe it or not? (I still find that hard to fathom.) I can see the statue in New York Harbor now from the roof of my building, as well as the new World Trade Center, the High Line and the new Whitney museum. So much has changed since I arrived and yet essentially, New York is the same –even post 911. Everyone says it’s now “ruined” because of all of the hi-rise multi-million dollar penthouses but that’s just supply and demand. When half the civilized world would like to have a piece of a tiny island, it gets expensive for those who are just regular folks. There’s always been good and bad in New York, and if you start to see the bad more than the good, it might be time to go. I can still see plenty of good…
Today my mother, Joyce Crisp, arrives to visit and celebrate her 75th birthday. And I celebrate 2 years writing for The Wow Report too! My first post was the 44th anniversary of Stonewall and the repeal of DOMA. Tonight at The Stonewall is 1969: A Gay Odyssey, starring Linda Simpson, Sweetie & more, at the birthplace of the modern gay movement.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing today on the designation of The Stonewall Inn as a historic site and is expected to approve it after some public testimony. It comes just before another anniversary – The Stonewall uprising, began the night of June 28, 1969. In the early morning hours of June 28, eight police officers raided the bar in search of bootlegged alcohol and began arresting some of the 200 people inside, especially men dressed as women. Rather than dispersing, the others gathered outside and were joined a large group drawn to the commotion. Members of the crowd scuffled with officers and threw pennies at them, considered to be an insult. Bottles, bricks and other objects followed. The officers retreated inside and called for reinforcements, while the crowd used a parking meter to try to break down the door.
On the night of the Stonewall riots, artist Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt was hanging around on nearby streets. (He shares another part of my own NY history that I’ll save for another post.) Just before the raid began, the young teenage runaway had showed up at the Stonewall and the doorman refused to let him in. He walked around the block and when he came back, the crowd had started to gather and he joined in with other younger protesters. Usually, he said, gays didn’t fight back during police raids. But as Schmidt recalled, Stonewall was the only place at the time where gays could dance close;
“They had a really good jukebox with a lot of Motown. We just danced with each other, with the same dances I did in Catholic youth dances. Why did people fight back [that night]? From my perspective it was because we could dance slow. We felt totally human. It was something that a heterosexual could take for granted but gay people couldn’t.”
So with ALL these multiple anniversaries happening, I noticed a post the other night. Randy Jones, one of the original Village People posted that Can’t Stop The Music came out 35 years ago, two days after I arrived in New York. And you know, someone FKA Bruce Jenner made his acting debut in that film! See how it’s all come full circle? The one drag is all of the great people we lost to AIDS in the 80s and early 90s… I miss all of them dearly. That’s another reason I’ll never complain about aging or “being old”… I know it’s a priveledge to still be on the planet and in New York City.
So, enjoy pride, make your own memories and remember, they Can’t Stop The Music, kids! I’m taking off for a while to show my Mom the city. See you next week!
NOTE: The Landmark Commission just now granted landmark status to the Stonewall Inn!