Not So Micro Monday

This Monday doesn’t fit the regulations of “Micro” so I hesitate listing it.   This is a research paper about the history before Stonewall.  It was the only A that was given in my Sociology class that year.   I am putting it up because I am so damn frustrated by those people who think the fight for LGBT rights started with them.   It is just not true.  We have Brown vs The Board of Education and Martin Luther King,  Selma and Montgomrey, and the Civil Rights Act.  And further back than that.  Stonewall might have never happened, or would, perhaps have come later and looked different.  Note that I didn’t get rid of my running header so I apologize that  you have to see it repeatedly.  Trying reformat this PDF file was harder than I thought it would be so excuse sentences or paragraphs that are choppy. (remember please that this is a research paper belonging to me,  if you steal it,  schools know how to figure out that you have plagiarized someone else’s work. just an fyi to the younger folk and the older ones who still seem to do it because they are not in school anymore and think they won’t get caught, totally forgetting Google knows everything)


The Road to Stonewall

 one of the city's best known trans women of the times. She was a leader in clashes with the police amid the Stonewall Riots.

one of the city’s best known trans women of the times. She was a leader in clashes with the police amid the Stonewall Riots.


The Stonewall riots have always been where my community assumes that the change started and the gay rights struggle began.  It is a quick and easy explanation and a dramatic story to “own” as a subculture.  It takes a much deeper look and a much longer time to tell the story than if one were to look to the past and trace back the slow strides gay people have made.  In this paper I will put you into the first night of the riots at the Stonewall Inn through personal interviews from both police from the NYPD, from the people who were patrons at The Stonewall that evening, and from several writers for The Village Voice who were witness to it all.  I am sure you will agree it is a dramatic story and you may be seduced by its excitement.. I will then take you backward in time and correct the myth of the gay rights struggle.  I will give you the chance to see social change in real time.  You will find how the gay rights movement was an accidental happening during the time of racial discrimination was being fought and the struggle to force the military to change all the dishonorable discharges given to soldiers who were assumed to be homosexual, with or without proof.  When civil rights are fought for, it is for all even accidentally, it sets a precedent for others to follow.

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Personal Interviews

Yvonne Ritter recalls, “I had just turned 18 on June 27, 1969. I was celebrating my
birthday at the Stonewall. Beginning of our night out started early. When we got dressed for that night, we had cocktails and we put the makeup on. I was wearing my mother’s black and white cocktail dress that was empire-waisted. I didn’t think I could have been any prettier than that night. I told the person at the door, I said, “I’m 18 tonight” and he said to me, “you little SOB,” he said. “You could have got us in a lot of trouble; you could have got us closed up.” Well, little did he know that what was gonna to happen later on was to make history.”

Dick Leitsch recalls, “And I remember it being a clear evening with a big black sky and the biggest white moon I ever saw.

Eric Marcus, Writer, “It was incredibly hot. You throw into that, that the Stonewall was
raided the previous Tuesday night. So it was a perfect storm for the police. They didn’t know what they were walking into.

David Carter, Author of Stonewall: “Most raids by the New York City Police, because
they were paid off by the mob, took place on a weeknight, they took place early in the evening, the place would not be crowded. This was a highly unusual raid, going in there in the middle of the night with a full crowd, the Mafia hasn’t been alerted, the Sixth Precinct hasn’t been alerted. Seymour Pine, Deputy Inspector, Morals Division, NYPD, “We only had about six people altogether from the police department knowing that you had a precinct right nearby that would send assistance.”

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Raymond Castro, “We were in the back of the room, and the lights went on, so everybody stopped what they were doing, because now the police started coming in, raiding the bar. They pushed everybody like to the back room and slowly asking for IDs. Meanwhile, there was crowds forming outside the Stonewall, wanting to know what was going on Danny Garvin, ”We were talking about the revolution happening and we were walking up 7th Avenue and I was thinking it was either Black Panthers or the Young Lords were going to start it and we turned the corner from 7th Avenue onto Christopher Street and we saw the paddy wagon pull up there. And some people came out, being very dramatic, throwing their arms up in a V, you know, the victory sign.

Howard Smith, Reporter, The Village Voice, “: That night I’m in my office, I looked down the street, and I could see the Stonewall sign and I started to see some activity in front. So I run down there. And as I’m looking around to see what’s going on, police cars, different things happening, it’s getting bigger by the minute. And the people coming out weren’t going along with it so easily. Lucian Truscott, IV, Reporter, The Village Voice”: A rather tough lesbian was busted in the bar and when she came out of the bar, she was fighting he cops and trying to get away. And the harder she fought, the more the cops were beating her up and the madder the crowd got. And
I ran into Howard Smith on the street, The Village Voice was right there. And Howard said, “”Boy there’s like a riot gonna happen here,” and I said, “Yeah.” And the police were showing up. And so Howard said, “We’ve got police press passes upstairs.” You know, Howard’s concern was and my concern was that if all hell broke loose, they’d just start busting heads. At least if you had press, maybe your head wouldn’t get busted.

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Fred Sargeant recalls, “Things started off small, but there was an energy that began to flow through the crowd.

Danny Garvin remembers, “People were screaming “pig,” “copper.” People started
throwing pennies.

Yvonne Ritter, “And then everybody started to throw pennies like, you know, this is what they were, they were nothing but copper, coppers, that’s what they were worth.

Dick Leitsch recalls, “So it was mostly goofing really, basically goofing on them. Getting then in the car, rocking them back and forth. Calling ’em names, telling ’em how good-looking they were, grabbing their butts. Doing things like that. Just making their lives miserable for once.

Howard Smith, Reporter, The Village Voice, “At a certain point, it felt pretty dangerous to me but I noticed that the cop that seemed in charge, he said you know what, we have to go inside for safety. Your choice, you can come in with us or you can stay out here with the crowd and report your stuff from out here. I said, “I can go in with you?” He said, “Okay, let’s go.” He pulls all his men inside. It’s the first time I’m fully inside the Stonewall.

Raymond Castro: “So then I got pushed back in, into the Stonewall by these plain clothes cops and they would not let me out, they didn’t let anybody out. They were just holding us almost like in a hostage situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Howard Smith, Reporter, The Village Voice, “But there were little, tiny pin holes in the
plywood windows, I’ll call them the windows but they were plywood, and we could look out from there and every time I went over and looked out through one of those pin holes where he did, we were shocked at how big the crowd had become. They were getting more ferocious. Things were being thrown against the plywood; we piled things up to try to buttress it.

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Fred Sargeant: recalled, “Someone at this point had apparently gone down to the cigar stand on the corner and got lighter fluid.

John O’Brien: added, “And then somebody started a fire, they started with little lighters and matches.

Raymond Castro, “Incendiary devices were being thrown in I don’t think they were
Molotov cocktails, but it was just fire being thrown in when the doors got open.

Seymour Pine, Deputy Inspector, Morals Division, NYPD, “Well, we did use the small
hoses on the fire extinguishers. But we couldn’t hold out very long.

John O’Brien: “I was very anti-police, had many years already of activism against the
forces of law and order. This was the first time I could actually sense, not only see them fearful, I could sense them fearful.

Doric Wilson, recalls, “There was joy because the cops weren’t winning. The cops were barricaded inside. We were winning…” (Davis and Heilbroner, Personal Interviews, 2011)

Why Stonewall?

.  Homosexuals have been discriminated against long before the pivotal Stonewall riots began.  So it does beg the question “Why that moment in time?”, or as Laud Humphreys (1972) argued in his book Out of the Closets: The sociology of homosexual liberation, that to ask why they remain unorganized for so long is to take part in victim blaming, inferring that the homosexual community is responsible  for their own oppression.  As Humphrey focused more on the strengths instead of blame, I believe it is important to know the processes, which the gay community mobilized, power at a particular time and the circumstance in the face of pervasive homophobia, stigma, and pressure.

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Aldon D. Morris, Professor of Sociology, (1984) came up with Morris’s Paradigm.  It
was a new way to understand collective protest-indigenous theory after realizing that there were limitations on the accepted three traditional models and the limits they had on the gay civil rights movements.  The three Traditional Models are, Classical Collective Behavior Theory. (Blumer, 1946; Lang & Lang, 1961; Park & Burgess, 1921; Smelser, 1962; Turner & Killian, 1957, all of which are cited in Morris, 1984)

Collective behavior happens in response to unusual cultural situations, periods of quick social changes or crises.  Morris argued that Stonewall did not fit this theory because the historical record demonstrates much deliberate, structured behavior in the decades before 1969.

Although Stonewall looked to the people of the United States as a spontaneous mob eruption, the event did not occur under what collective behavior theory would call “unusual” circumstances. Raids and arrests of homosexuals at clubs happened so frequently, they were considered business as usual and the persecution of gays and lesbians was commonplace and long standing.

According to The Theory of Charismatic Movements (Weber, 1947, cited in Morris,
1984) at certain times charismatic individual leaders mobilize a following that can cause revolutionary changes. (Think Martin Luther King Jr.)  The Stonewall riots did not have charismatic leaders, nor was there a leader coming out of the Stonewall uprising. Interestingly enough, there still isn’t a leader of the modern day gay rights movement.

The Resource Mobilization Theory (Gamson, 1975; McCarthy & Zald, 1973; Oberschall, 1973; Tilly, 1978, cited in Morris, 1984). According to this theory, dominated groups require assistance from elite advocates from outside the groups, including government leaders, attorneys and judges, political liberals , and wealthy organizations. As we have read from the transcripts

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

(Stonewall 2011) The participants in the 3 days of rioting were alone in their fight and barely a blurb in the New York Times a few days later. Morris rejected all three traditional theories and The Indigenous Model is what he used to explain the events in 1969.  This theory analysis looks to see how groups create the conditions
that support overt power struggles. This model works only if the dominated community can sustain movement, which depends on whether or not the community has basic resources. This would include, in part, social activists, strong ties to indigenous social institutions, communication networks and strategies that can lessen domination and attain collective goals.

. Over the years, gay activists had created newspapers, magazines, health clinics,
churches, multipurpose social centers, social organizations, and specialized businesses.  So the gay community that had identified itself as an oppressed group and claimed a shared group identity. (D’Emillo. 1983; Duberman, 1986; 1993; Humphreys, 1972; Katz, 1976; Lauritsen & Thorstad, 1974; Marcus, 1992; Nardi, sanders, & Marmor, 1994; Shilts, 1982, 1993).

There were four social forces that created a political and organizational structure that
would support the gay and lesbian protest movement. (1) the U.S. homophile movement, (2) the treatment of gay men and lesbians in the U.S. military (3) increased public awareness of discrimination and persecution of gay and lesbian people, and (4) the social activism of the 1960’s.

 The U.S. Homophile Movement: In 1908 a book by Edward Stevenson, The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life was published, and republished in 1975, documenting the existence of a gay community in the United States. He wrote in defense of homosexuality from a scientific, legal, historical, and personal perspective. (Burrough 2002)  In the early 20th century, gay life constituted a distinctly organized

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

community in the United States.  This burgeoning subculture was to become the seed of a collective consciousness and the identity of gay men and lesbians that , in turn, provide the underlying structure and awareness that made a rebellion feasible (D’ Emilio 1983).

 Treatment of Gay Men and Lesbians in the U.S. Military: Military service, especially during the two world wars, is closely linked to the gradual rise of the modern gay civil rights movement and protest efforts in this century.  A review of this history (D’Emilio,1983; Shilts, 1993) leads to the following three conclusions about the uneasy the uneasy relationship among the four branches of the military and gay men and lesbians in the armed forces:

1. Enlisted gay men and lesbians left the provincial restrictions of their small town
lives, saw other countries an culture, fought for the cause of freedom for all, lived
and worked with members of their own gender, became acquainted with other gay
men and lesbians, and learned about gay and lesbian life in foreign and domestic
cities, their expectations and perceptions changed radically and permanently.

2. The persecution and victimization that gay men and lesbians suffered at the hands
of their country’s military bureaucracy raised their individual and collective
consciousness about inequity, injustice, maltreatment, and civil rights.

3. The psychological diagnostic screening of potential recruits that included
questions about their sexual orientations, the constant worry about the thoughts of
and behavior of soldiers in relation to the issues of sexual orientation, and the real
threat of being dishonorably discharged without benefits, all brought the issue of
homosexuality into the forefront of discussion. Dishonorable discharges were
made not just for same-gender sexual behavior, but also for the mere suspicion of

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

homoerotic thoughts and feelings.  Gay men and lesbians were often either
coerced into “coming out” or “outing” others. These three factors in tandem appear to have been major reasons for ongoing social discontent and, over time, helped form the collective identity of gay men and lesbians as an oppressed people.  Most importantly, the United States were the post- World War II efforts to correct the injustice of dishonorable discharges, initiated by black civil rights activists, with the
support of gay and lesbian veterans..  The campaign was also taken up by Congress, the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office, the American Legion, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the NAACP, and the military and civilian press (Beruve, 1991).  The gay and lesbian veterans who were fighting publicly and legally against their dishonorable discharge were helping the develop a political agenda.  They were unintentionally shaping the notion that gay and lesbian taxpayers had civil rights, could engage in a fight for justice and social protest, and were a persecuted group (Berube, 1991).

Increased Public Awareness of the Persecution of Gay Men and Lesbians:  The U.S.
military’s treatment of gay and lesbian citizens directly influenced their subsequent general persecution during the Cold War. During the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, the antihomosexual hearings in the Senate began as a byproduct of the anticommunist scare.  McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) thought that gay and lesbian citizens were highly susceptible to blackmail and thus had a propensity to betray military secrets or to join the Communist Party, Ironically, the strongest argument presented to HUAC was the military’s continued success in emotionally breaking gay and lesbian people during and after WWII
(Berube, 1991).

This systemic persecution served to break the public silence about the topic and
to begin to unite those who felt the effects of the oppression (D’Emilio, 1983).

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall

Social Activism of the 1960’s.   During the 1960’s, several political and social upheavals heavily influenced each other.  A philosophy counter to the mainstream culture emerged that supported equality, freedom, choice, and peace.  The homophiles of the previous decade had inadvertently set the stage for members of the U.S. gay community to consider their place in the societal chaos of the social protest era (D’Emillo, 1983; Shilits, 1993).  The social context of choosing to be who you wanted to be had been altered. At the same time, the legal situation began to change and there was some movement toward the decriminalization of the private,
consensual sexual acts of adults (D. ‘ Emilio, 1983).

In the northwest in the early 1960’s, the example of the black civil rights movement inspired a militant faction of the newly emerging gay rights front.  The earlier accommodationist stance was abandoned in favor of activism (D’Emilio, 1983).  As Franklin Dameny, who spearheaded this new militancy, put it: “I do not see the NAACP and CORE worrying about which chromosome and gene produced a black skin, or about the possibility of bleaching the Negro…  Why we are Negroes, Jews, or homosexuals is totally.irrelevant, and whether we can be changed to whites, Christian, or heterosexual is equality irrelevant” (quoted D’Emilio, 1983 p. 153)

Given the social discontent of the 1960’s, as well as well as the groundwork of the early homophile pioneers in the 1940’s and 1950’s, there is little wonder that gay men and lesbians reacted in time.  The northeast movement had placed gay rights in a militant context, and the west coast movement had tied gay rights to a social context.   All of these civil rights movements converging at one time, Stonewall was culmination of the frustration from the gay community and its seemly never-ending fight for civil rights…

STONEWALL: The Road to Stonewall


Berube, A (1991). Coming out under fire:  The history of gay men and women in World War II.

New York: Plume.

Bullough, V. (2002). Before Stonewall: Activists for gay and lesbian rights in historical context

(p. 242). New York: Harrington Park Press.

Cannon Poindexter, C. (1997). Sociopolitical Antecedents to Stonewall: Analysis of the Origins

of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States. Social Work. Nov97, Vol. 42 Issue 6,

p607-615. 9p (Issue 6,), P607-615. 9p. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from EBSCO.

D’Emilio, J. (1983). Sexual politics, sexual communities: The making of a homosexual minority

in the United States, 1940-1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Humphreys, L (1972). Out of the closets: The sociology of homosexual liberation. Englewood

Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

Prime-Stevenson, Edward (1908, 1975). The intersexes: a history of similisexualism as a

problem in social life. Arno Press, New York

Morris, A. D. (1984) The origins if the civil rights movement New York: Free Press

Shilts, R. (n.d.). Conducting unbecoming Gays and Lesbian in the U,S. military. Retrieved

November 19, 2014, from EBSCO.

Stonewall Uprising [Motion picture on DVD]. (2011). United State: PBS Distribution.


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