“In Search of Stonewall: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25, Best Essays, 1994-2018” by Richard Schneider, et al.— Moving Forward and Looking Back

Schneider, Richard, et al.  “In Search of Stonewall: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25, Best Essays, 1994-2018”,  G&LR Books, 2019.

Moving Forward and Looking Back

Amos Lassen

I always look forward to my copy of “The Gay and Lesbian Review” and I really think it represents our community with taste and pride. It also keeps me informed of what is new in our literature as well as what is going on. Off and on I have been a subscriber but there is nothing like the feeling of being able to walk into a bookstore and ask for it. In that tiny little validation that our community is part of the literary world, is all I need to make me feel good. Where so many other LGBT magazines have failed, here is one that seems to be getting stronger with each issue.

For those of you who do not know, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall this year and what could be better than a collection of essays that give us a look at our history this far. The Review began its publishing career in 1994 the 25th anniversary of that watershed event that brought us to where we are today. The editors of the review went back through its issues and collections and selected essays from each issue that reflect on how we got to this point.

I remember seeing the first issue of the review which ws then called “The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review” and because its first issue was published near the anniversary of Stonewall, the two groups formed a special bond between them. Have a look at who and what is included in the Table of Contents and you find yourselves in very good company.

Table of Contents

Preface  In Search of Stonewall  1
Richard Schneider Jr.

THE year was 1994. It was the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and, as luck would have it, the year in which a new magazine called The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review was publishing its first issue (Winter ’94). The “Harvard” was dropped in 2000 and “Worldwide” added, but other than that The G&LR has had an uninterrupted run of 136 issues over the past quarter-century. The fact that our first year coincided with Stonewall’s 25th proved a happy coincidence, if only because it gave us something important to talk about that year. But it also joined our fate with that of the founding event of the modern LGBT movement. This book commemorates our own 25th birthday with a collection of Stonewall-related  articles selected from the issues published to date.

Part I. Flashpoint: New York City, June 19695

Introduction Stonewall’s Challenge to Historiography 7
Martin Duberman

The six commentators who describe the events at Stonewall in the following section make honorable attempts at completeness, and none directly contradicts well-established outlines of the rioting. Yet each chooses to highlight aspects of the event that—for whatever subliminal reasons—best suit their subjective snapshot.

What Went Down (March-April 2006) 9
Toby Marotta

A Report from the Front (Summer 1994) 13
Edmund White

Stonewall as Event and Idea (Summer 1994) 17
Michael Denneny

The Remains of the Night (July-August 2009) 20

Felice Picano, Tom Baker, Rita Mae Brown, Miss Majors, Victoria Roth, and Edmund White

What Made Stonewall Different (July-August 2009) 28
David Carter

The Making of Gay Liberation (the Statue) (Spring 1997) 35
David B. Boyce

Part II. Flashback: The Roots of the Riots41

Introduction The Revolution Began on the Left Coast 43
Lillian Faderman

THE riots that followed the 1969 raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York and the New York Gay Liberation Front that emerged from those riots were the opening salvos of a militant gay revolution. But as many of the following essays show, the struggle for gay rights had begun two decades earlier. The first gay organizations to last more than a few months, the first gay magazines, and the first gay protests were born on the other side of the continent.

Birth of a Consciousness (Winter 1995) 49
Harry Hay

The Radicalism of Harry Hay (Nov.-Dec. 2013) 57
Will Roscoe

Lesbian Liberation Begins (Winter 1995) 64
Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

Lawrence v. Texas Brings It All Back Home (Sept.-Oct. 2003) 71
John Rechy

Unearthing the “Knights of the Clock” (May-June 2010) 76
Martha E. Stone

The Birds as a Pre-Stonewall Parable (March-April 2001) 81
Bob Smith

Frank Kameny Takes It Public (March-April 2012) 85
John D’Emilio

The Black Cat Riot in L.A. (May-June 2012) 91
Eve Goldberg

How the Castro Became “The Castro” (Jan.-Feb. 2009) 98
Timothy Stewart-Winter

Part III. Flash Forward: Aftermath and Diffusion105

Introduction After Stonewall: Liberation and Libido 107
Andrew Holleran

THE first thing that struck me about these essays on the 1970s that you’re about to read is that they’re for the most part about the early years of that decade—the first gay pride marches in New York and Los Angeles, for instance, took place in 1970—though reading the memoirs by Karla Jay and Ellen Shumsky describing attempts to form gay political organizations, one is struck by how “Sixties” they all were: the abhorrence of authority, the consciousness-raising, the aversion to organizational hierarchy. Even in the photographs of the first gay pride march in Steven Dansky’s essay, “The Look of Gay Liberation,” it’s still all about ’60s hair, ’60s clothes, and the ’60s counterculture.

The Look of Gay Liberation (March-April 2009) 111
Steven F. Dansky

The Radicalesbians (July-August 2009) 118
Ellen Shumsky

L.A Spring, 1970 (Winter 1999) 124
Karla Jay

Fire Island: The Democratic Years (Sept.-Oct. 2003) 132
Felice Picano

Was Lesbian Separatism Inevitable? (March-April 2006) 137
Jill Johnston

As the ’70s World Turned (Winter 1994) 142
Andrew Holleran

San Francisco: Still Mighty Real (May-June 2002) 147
Jewelle Gomez

Part IV. Stonewall’s Legacy: Whither the Revolution?153

Introduction Stonewall’s Legacy 155 Richard Schneider Jr.

THE Gay & Lesbian Review came into being amid an epic debate that was in full swing in the early 1990s over the state and direction of the LGBT movement. With the 25th anniversary of Stonewall in the background, it was perhaps a generational shift that writers were noticing and that was in fact taking place, one that Michael Bronski summed up (in The G&LR’s Winter 1994 issue) as a shift from “sexual liberation” to “identity politics” as the guiding model of political action. The former was the vision that had held sway from the post-Stonewall era through ACT UP and into the ’90s; the latter was being embraced by well-funded organizations like the Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, which expressly rejected the earlier revolutionary goals. This debate was remarkable both for its passion and for its volume (as in volumes published), and also the extent to which it became polarized between these two positions.

Sexual Liberation versus Identity Politics (Winter 1995) 159
Michael Bronski

What Became of the Spirit of ’69? (Summer 1999) 164
Arnie Kantrowitz

At Thirty Years A.S. (After Stonewall) (Fall 1999) 170
Dennis Altman

Sex, Pride, and Desire (Spring 1998) 174
Frank Browning

The Quest for Identity (Jan.-Feb. 2013) 181
Amy Hoffman

Queer Theory’s Heist of Our History (Sept.-Oct. 2009) 188
Larry Kramer

What’s Lost on the Road to Equality (May-June 2015) 195
Dolores Klaich

“Homonormativity” and Its Discontents (Jan.-Feb. 2016) 200
D. Gilson




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