Stonewall, Gay “Liberation” and the Supremes

stonewallForty-four years ago almost to the day, the first Stonewall riots happened. Stonewall was a NYC bar frequented by the most disenfranchised of the gay (although that word was not in common use yet) community – drag queens, transgendered, homeless youth. The bar was raided, the patrons rousted and then rioted.  They may not have shouted “We’re not going to take it anymore,” but that was the effect and things started to change. Slowly.

A few months later, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I worked for the decidedly left-wing Old Mole newspaper, I met a young man named Stan. Stan was promoting a new organization, Gay Liberation.

eqcaSince this was the time of women’s liberation, with its consciousness raising groups, marches and protests (our group had recently taken a stand with Gloria Steinem against the dress code in the stuff Ritz Carlton Hotel, among other more substantive measures including a march to “seize” a building from Harvard and turn it into a women’s building). I was all over that.  “Gay Liberation!” I enthused to my fellow journalists. “We have to write about it.”

I was surprised that my idea was pooh-poohed by all the men.  I insisted, and not wanting to be considered “chauvinistic,” the men deferred and and I wrote my article on Stan and the coming gay revolution.

Today, nearly 40 years to the day after that historic Stonewall raid, our Supreme Court has given the green light to same sex marriage in California.

dotty lemieuxA narrow victory to be sure, on issues of standing, related to the Proposition 8 issue (Proposition 8 was a measure overturning gay marriage in California, that was declared unconstitutional by a Federal judge, then appealed by proponents of the measure, but not the State. The Supremes ruled the proponents lacked standing, and only the State could appeal decisions relating to State propositions), but a victory nonetheless for thousands in this state and hopefully a push in the right direction for other states to follow suit.

And oh yeah, they overturned the Defense of Marriage Act too.  After Tuesday’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Wednesday’s decisions are a welcome relief.

Dotty Lemieux
Campaign Slut

Friday, 28 June 2013


  1. Billy Glover says

    It is good to hear your thoughts and “history.” But the “history” of the end of DOMA, and the decisions of Romer and Lawrence did not happen suddenly. They are a results of education and previous legal efforts, which started when the continuous effort to gain civil/equal rights for homosexual Americans begn in L. A. in 1950, and the first legal victory was the ONE Magazine cAse, finalized in 1958.

    Contrary to the mainly east coast media, the fight for our rights did not suddenly begin at Stonewall. Each decade saw progress, more and more people coming out and more battles won.

    • Dotty says

      Thanks for your comment. Right you are. It is a continuous arc. Stonewall was a culmination of a lot of struggle in years before. It did mark the first time a lot of mainstream America was forced to sit up and take notice.

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