Stonewall at 50

There truly aren’t words sufficient to thank and honor everyone whose riot at Stonewall began 50 years ago tonight.

The drag queens.
The trans women.
The trans men.
The homeless LGBT youth.
The LGBT people of color.
Those who were working class.
Those who were economically exploited into poverty.
Those who had everything to lose and those who had nothing to lose (who were often the same).
And, yes, the cisgender, white LGB adults.

They fought for three days and nights. They threw bricks and trash cans. They sang and chanted. They taunted the police. They felt the beating of police batons. They were carried away in paddy wagons but came back to riot some more. They turned the police’s game on them, trapping law enforcement in the Stonewall Inn and threatening to burn it down. They endured cuts and bruises and broken bones. They were maligned by an openly homophobic, transphobic press. But they pressed on.

Stonewall wasn’t the first LGBT riot; that honor goes to San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria riot — also led by trans women of color and drag queens of color.

But something about Stonewall touched off a movement, a movement that would change the world. That riot lead, eventually, to my proud queerness and my genderqueer identity. That riot changed my life.

Stonewall created a group of radical, proud GBQ men and trans women (and their LBQ cisgender women and trans masculine allies) who were ready to organize and fight for their lives when the ravages of “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency” (GRID, eventually renamed AIDS) started taking them en masse 12 years later.

ACT-UP at 15 YearsThat riot helped create queerness, queer identity, radical queer politics. Queer Nation and the Lesbian Avengers and the Transexual Menace. And, yes, ACT-UP. (Act up, fight back, fight AIDS!)

From those rioters eventually sprung the trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary children and tweens with whom i’ve volunteered for the last 13 years.

To Marsha and Sylvia and Stormé. To the others whose names we don’t know. To those who wouldn’t take the shit of the corrupt, abusive, homophobic, transphobic, racist NYPD anymore. To those who refused to be ashamed any longer. To those who jettisoned the shame-based politics of pleading for pity, in favor of the politics of radical self-acceptance and love. To those who tossed “homosexual” out the window in favor of “gay” and “lesbian” and “bisexual.” To those who could never have imagined, on so many levels and for both better and worse, the world we live in today. To those who literally shed blood for themselves and for the future.

I was born just three years later. Three years, three months, and a handful of days. I am part of that future. Almost all of us in the LGBTQ2SA community today are.

It is 11:58pm ET on June 28, 2019. In 1969, they were rioting right now. Right now.

May we be worthy of even 10% of your legacy, of your strength, of your pride.

Thank you.

Wishing a Happy Mothers’ Day…

  • to mothers who love their children unconditionally and who set loving boundaries;
  • to mothers who accept their children where they’re at and as who they are instead of as who and where the mothers want them to be;
  • to cis mothers and trans mothers;
  • to genetic mothers and adoptive mothers and stepmothers and other-mothers;
  • to lesbian and bisexual mothers who are out to their children;
  • to mothers who never hit, spank, deride, or otherwise emotionally or physically abuse their children;
  • to mothers who break the cycle;
  • to mothers who respect their children as human beings with rights and desires as important as the mothers’ own;
  • to mothers who earn their children’s respect instead of demanding it of them;
  • to mothers who admit their challenges and who know they can’t do it all;
  • to mothers who like their children as well as love them;
  • to mothers who love and *celebrate* their LGBTQ and gender non-conforming children as much as their straight and cis children;
  • to mothers who honor and respect their disabled children as much as their able-bodied ones;
  • to mothers who raise strong children and children focused on social justice;
  • to mothers who teach their children to see and fight oppression in all its forms, especially when that oppression does not affect their children’s daily lives;
  • to mothers who expose their children to as much human diversity as possible – race, gender, class, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration and linguistic status, religious, and all the other ways we have of being human;
  • to mothers who use birth control and who have abortions when they know that having children is not right for them at the moment;
  • to mothers who openly and honestly teach their kids about sex, sexuality, and birth control;
  • to mothers who are not afraid to ask for help and to mothers who offer help;
  • to mothers who don’t let fathers get away with doing nothing to help raise their children or maintain the household;
  • to mothers who raise feminist sons and assertive, self-confident daughters;
  • to mothers who teach all their children that “no” means “no;”
  • to single mothers;
  • to mothers raising children with multiple co-parents;
  • to mothers who don’t dress their boy babies in blue and their girl babies in pink;
  • to mothers who let their boys wear dresses and their girls play with trucks;
  • to mothers who know that sex isn’t gender and that biology isn’t destiny;
  • to mothers who struggle and mothers who triumph;
  • to mothers who live with adult children who need as much parenting as young children;
  • to butch mothers and femme mothers, masculine mothers and feminine mothers;
  • to mothers who struggle to make ends meet but who still meet their children’s needs;
  • to mothers who parent in poverty, with disabilities, as immigrants, surrounded by racism;
  • to non-Christian mothers, feminist mothers, radical mothers;
  • to mothers who strive to have their children’s lives be better than their own;
  • to mothers who take time for and take care of themselves;
  • to mothers who have lives outside of parenthood and who don’t define their entire being based on their mothering;
  • to mothers who know that it truly takes a village;
  • to mothers who work with instead of against their children;
  • to mothers who encourage academic excellence, who buy their children books instead of violent toys, who expose their children to books and movies with good messages that other parents may fear;
  • to mothers who leave manipulative, exploitative, or abusive relationships;
  • to mothers who refuse to conform to sexist notions of motherhood and help redefine what it means to be a mother; and most importantly,
  • to my own Mom who is amazing in too many ways to name.