The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. At a little after one a.m. on the morning of June 28, 1969, the police carried out a routine raid on the bar. But it turned out not to be routine at all. Instead of cowering - the usual reaction to a police raid - the patrons inside Stonewall and the crowd that gathered outside the bar fought back against the police. The five days of rioting that followed changed forever the face of lesbian and gay life. In the years since 1969, the Stonewall riots have become the central symbolic event of the modern gay movement.
Renowned historian and activist Martin Duberman now tells for the first time the full story of what happened at Stonewall, recreating in vivid detail those heady, sweltering nights in June 1969 and revealing a wealth of previously unknown material. This landmark book does even more: it unforgettably demonstrates that the Stonewall riots were not the beginning - just as they were certainly not the end - of the ongoing struggle for gay and lesbian rights.
Duberman does all this within a narrative framework of novelistic immediacy. Stonewall unfolds through the stories of six lives, and those individual lives broaden out into the larger historical canvas. All six came of age in the pre-Stonewall era, and all six were drawn into the struggle for gay and lesbian rights as a result of the upheaval at the Stonewall bar and the events that followed.
There is Yvonne, the black lesbian daughter of a politically minded, outspoken mother...Ray, the young Hispanic transvestite and street hustler who adopts the name "Sylvia"...Foster, conservative, upper-class scion of a prominent family...Karla, the increasingly militant lesbian feminist from a "nice Jewish home"...Jim, the actor and Yippie leader, forced to break with his comrades over the issue of homophobia...and Craig, the teenage radical of the Mattachine Society who opened the country's first gay bookstore. With riveting narrative skill, Duberman charts the lives of these six people. Their stories combine into an unforgettable portrait of gay and lesbian life during the decades of repression that led up to the Stonewall riots. They expose, too, the divisions based on race, class, and gender that developed within the gay world itself, as well as the fiery rifts between proponents of the strategies of propriety and confrontation. But what is brought to life above all else are the sense of worth and the solidarity, born of the struggle at Stonewall, which have escalated in the years since.
The book builds to a magnificently moving climax when each of the six protagonists participates in the first Gay Rights March on June 28, 1970. Stonewall is that rare work of history: it encapsulates an era - and presents it with a human face.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - rsplenda477 - LibraryThing
A really well-researched and interesting portrayal of the gay rights movement in the United States. A great read for anyone interested in social movements of the 1960s. Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - jgeneric - LibraryThing
If there's any one thing that has the potential to evoke instant violence from individuals, it's the idea of homosexuality. Today, nothing seems to polarize so many people. Anyone growing up has heard ... Read full review