Over the past several weeks at Pride events across the city, Gay City News checked in with a wide array of folks to gather responses to two questions:
What does Stonewall 50 mean to you?
What will you be doing for Pride?
Sean Robertson-Stefanic — Reclaim Pride Coalition Logistics Committee Member
Meaning: Stonewall 50 is a true landmark of our culture, and certainly stands as a time of celebration, but that also comes with remembering why the rebellion in the Village happened and also that we still have a ways to go. For me, it means a time to act and be involved with and for those reasons.
Plans: I’ll be very busy with our march. I have great faith in what we’re doing and am so excited that we can share this with other members of our community from all over the world.
DaShawn Pretlow — Education Coordinator, Manhattan Neighborhood Network
Meaning: For me, Stonewall 50 is monumental. It’s a reminder of the work that we all still need to do. The fight is still alive and necessary because we’re not promised anything. There are people in our government now who still don’t want us to have our rights. We don’t want to lose the momentum.
Plans: I’m going to go to as many festivities as possible, but also at the same time get people to understand why it’s important for them not only to live their own truths, but also to fight to tell their truths. We in the older generations need to support those in the younger generations.
Linda Simpson — Drag Queen & Bingo Goddess
Meaning: It means I’m getting older.
Plans: I’m unsure because of the rival marches. I think I’ll go with the rebel march, but I’ll probably dip my toes into the regular march, too.
Lorenzo De Los Angeles — Rise and Resist Coalition Member
Meaning: Stonewall 50 for me represents the continuation of the fight and preservation of our equal rights. With a Supreme Court majority that now favors conservatives and local federal courts swiftly swearing in young Republican judges for lifetime appointments, our current civil rights are under attack and are in serious, potential danger of being dismissed or abolished.
Plans: I have been involved and attending planning meetings with the Reclaim Pride Coalition, alongside friends from Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns, so I anticipate volunteering in whatever way I can with the Queer Liberation
March on June 30.
Brian Ram — East Flatbush Trinidadian Lunch Cart Vendor
Meaning: I don’t know. When I looked it up, it was a street.
Plans: Gay Pride? That’s a tricky question. Ahhhh, what am I doing? Omigod, um, I’m thinking, um. I will be looking for hot boys — final answer.
Jerome Brown — Student at Brooklyn College and June graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College
Meaning: It means everything. I first remember hearing about it down in the West Village after a few cocktails. I was a frequent flyer.
Plans: I minored in African Literature and I will be in Ghana studying the African diaspora.
Stuart Leppner — Very Gay Retiree
Meaning: First off all that’s my time, I was around. A turning point. It’s an actual date that started the movement that we know today. I think it’s very important that it be honored and celebrated.
Plans: Every day is Gay Pride Day for me. I was at the first Gay Pride Parade when people were throwing eggs at us. I feel it’s been totally commercialized. It’s time to let someone else take the banner. I’m 72, I don’t have to stand out in the sun. I celebrate Gay Pride just by waking up in the morning. Maybe I’ll wear a festive T-shirt.
Christine Quinn — President and CEO of Win (formerly Women in Need), the largest provider of shelter to women and families in New York City.
Meaning: Kind of an end and a beginning — the end of the period when we hid in the closet and didn’t make any waves or noises, and a beginning because it started the modern civil rights movement for LGBTQ rights. The fierceness and force and the glorious disturbance of it fueled the movement. Whenever you are discouraged or pissed off, you go back 50 years and you are uplifted by the courage and bravery of those people who said that enough was enough.
Plans: As many things and events as possible. I know we need to commemorate, but also to have fun and revel in the community. Part of Stonewall was about reveling in community power, and that celebration matters equally with political force. I will also be wearing a lot of sunscreen. You should, too!
Donna Aceto — Photographer, Gay City News
Meaning: Craziness. It wasn’t even June yet and it was kicking my ass.
Plans: I’ll start taking pictures at the Queer Liberation March kick-off at Sheridan Square at 9 a.m. on Sunday, that’s where my heart really is, but then I’ll shuffle over to Heritage of Pride, too.
Andrew Cuomo — Governor of the State of New York
Meaning: We’re very proud of what we’ve done in New York City as a beacon for LGBTQ rights around the world.
Plans: I’ll be welcoming the world to Pride in New York City.
Robert O’Hare — Commander, Sixth Precinc in Greenwich Village
Meaning: We’re really proud of how far the Police Department has come in 50 years. We’re not perfect, but it’s a pretty big difference between being the police outside Stonewall in 1969 and being the police inside Stonewall in 2019.
Plans: I’ll be up and on the street by 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I told my family I probably won’t be home until around 24 hours later on Monday morning. I’ll be watching to make sure people can celebrate safely and be listening to hear about any concerns that come up.
Jules Peiperl — Costume Designer for National Queer Theater’s Criminal Queerness Festival (through July 6)
Meaning: It means celebrating our achievements and feeling not alone without forgetting how far we have to go.
Plans: I’m dressing up in an 18th century fop outfit with a Trans flag sash and hanging out with my friend — we’re going
to flounce around.
Vanessa German — Artist of “Notes on the Absence of Sacredness: How Little Black Girls Die” (pictured), currently on view in the group show “Radical Love” at the Ford Foundation Gallery
Meaning: I think about the people that were there at the Stonewall that night, you know? Just people — drinking, dancing, maybe going to go home with someone later. Did they know? Did they realize that they were just about to make all of us safe — safer, 50 years later? Did they know?
Plans: I live in Pittsburgh, a city where there’s a lot of contention about Pride, like Pride events being sponsored by a company involved in fracking, so I won’t necessarily being doing the whole Pride thing there. But I did do a six-hour performance with my girlfriend for Pre-Pride in Los Angeles called “soft: the longest kiss.”
Chirlane McCray — First Lady of New York City
Meaning: We’ve come a long way, and I’m old enough to remember. I came to New York in 1977. I pre-date the LGBT Center! I’m grateful to be alive at such a time, to be host hosting a Pride event at Gracie Mansion, to have unveiled plans for the first statues in the United States of two transgender heroines, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Plans: I’ll be with my tribe, my crew, and it’s going to be a joyous occasion.