A Community Investment
September 13, 2006
To the Editor
Thank you for your article on the gay bar Stonewall, located at 53 Christopher Street, which housed one half of the historic Stonewall Inn, which was at 51 and 53 Christopher (“Stonewall Tavern to Remain Open,” by Winnie McCroy, Sep. 7-13).
Before the advent of the gay liberation movement, there was almost no effort to preserve sites connected to LGBT history, since homosexuality was then widely seen as either criminal, sinful, or a mental disease. We were neither a culture in any positive sense nor a social group worthy of honor. The effort to accurately preserve, record, and interpret our own history aims at reclaiming a part of our collective soul and identity through self-knowledge. How can we have a culture without an identity, and how can we have an identity in any meaningful sense of the word without a history? Group identity for any culture has traditionally derived from shared collective stories—that is, history.
As a writer, I have great respect for words and their power, but I believe that such a collective history has to be based upon more than words and, indeed, more than images––we need objects and we need places to help us grasp a deeper sense of what and who shaped our stories. Otherwise, our concepts and understandings of ourselves are bound to be rather deracinated and dry, more the stuff of mere intellect and with little connection to our physical world, to the earth, and to the hearts and bodies of our forebears and their felt and lived experiences.
We are a people with very few sites where all members of our community can feel such a tangible connection to our history, and so I think that our community would gain significant cultural value through owning both of the buildings that constituted the Stonewall Inn. If we owned them as a community, we could not only have full access to the sites but would control how they are used and interpreted in order to make our history more meaningful.
For these reasons, I want to expand on what I felt was a slight misquotation of me in the article. My hope is to identify in advance some of the wealthier members of our community who have both the funds and the interest in our community to make a commitment that if ever those two properties were placed on the market they would buy them and donate them to the community.
The writer is the author of “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution.” Winnie McCroy’s article on the Stonewall bar can be found at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_536/stonewalltavernto.html. According to Dominick Desimone, who has owned Stonewall since it reopened in 1989, told Gay City News late last week that the bar, currently shuttered for renovation, will reopen with the same name, whether under his own management or new leaseholders.
Arthur Schwartz’s Victory
September 18, 2006
To the Editor
The campaign ad in Gay City News that mimicked a New Yorker magazine cover proved a great boon to the successful Arthur Schwartz primary run for Democratic state committeeman (“Key Gay Defeats in Primary,” by Paul Schindler, Sep. 14-20). The use of an eye-catching and familiar waterfront and community political cartoon format to bullet list the candidate’s accomplishments ranks as one the most clever and adroit political advertisements to come along in recent memory.
Absent specifics, the charge, leveled by Deborah Glick that Arthur won by “misleading advertising” is simply sour grapes. The fact that candidates’ sexual or affectional orientations were not determinative in making choices reflects sound political decision-making by the entire community.
The primary election returns story can be found at http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_537/keygaydefeats.html.
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