Pictured stonily in "NYC Pride Guide" in the lowest left and oddly subdued are S.V.A. Stonewall veteran Drag Queens (D/Qs) Ivana Valentin (left) and Daria Modon. The Heritage of Pride (HOP) rudely failed to mention inside their booklet (above) the names of the gals nor fact that both are members of the proud STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans Association.
The Connecticut Courant: Stonewall, Thirty Years Later
by Greg Morago
Synopsis from The Connecticut Courant
"Stonewall, Thirty Years Later"
"Stonewall was the first time that I saw in a public way my (Gay) community fighting back" said Donna Red Wing, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign ("HRC"). Here we are 30 years later and the battle is not so much in your face and in the streets. It's in The Capitol! It's in town hall! It's in the voting booth! Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people have begun to work in the system...................."
Red Wing said the battle continues but the demands are basic: "We want to live our lives free from discrimination and free from violence".
"The heroes are the folks that we probably won't see in Time or Newsweek", said Donna Red Wing of the Human Rights Campaign. "It's the folks who are on the ground, in the trenches, making a difference...." Maybe folks like Williamson Henderson, who was inside The Stonewall and arrested after the first night of the rebellion (sic).... He'll never forget the night he helped give birth to the Gay Rights movement. Stonewall helped unite Gays and lesbians, eventually growing into a powerful force, felt in all reaches of the national spectrum. "Stonewall was the first time I saw in a public way my GLBT community fighting back", said Donna. And, from the SVA's Jeremiah Newton: "Yes, we were part of the Stonewall Rebellion. Yes, we survived. Yes, we're still here.... It starts with one person standing up for their rights and the rights of their loved ones. That's Stonewall! It's an amazing, amazing story...." reflected Jeremiah. Do they consider themselves 'heroes'? "Well, I never regarded myself as one", Williamson said. "None of us regarded ouselves as 'heroes'. We were all victims of happenstance", he said. "But, after all these years, I think, yes, in fact, we are 'heroes'".
STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans' Association -- 30th Anniversary
STONEWALL Veterans' Assn. Flotilla of N.Y.C. Gay Parade Convertibles
Note: The above 1966 Cadillac is not the 1969 Cadillac "Stonewall Car"!
Observe that the 1966 has stacked (not horizontal) headlights!!
[Photo by Williamson Henderson]
|Proudly pictured above leading the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") are: Dave West, S.V.A. Public Relationist, high-holding a rainbow Gay pride flag; and Electra O'Mara, S.V.A. Secretary, high-holding an S.V.A. sign which reads: STONEWALL Veterans' Assn. It is overlaid on a hand-painted, dramatic skyline of Manhattan including the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center Twin Towers. The artist (and political consultant), Michael Oliva, was provided by Williamson's longtime friend, Liz Abzug, owner of LJA Consultant Services. In the photo below is shown one of the other hand-painted S.V.A. signs by artsy Oliva, which has as its relevant background a very symbolic red brick wall.|
|Convertible #1 - 1966 Cadillac (blue): S.V.A. member
Richard Karlsson, driving and owner of the car -- no this is not
(that story much later); Terri Van Dyke, S.V.A. Treasurer,
riding 'shotgun'; Yvonne Ritter, S.V.A. Executive Committee, riding
atop back seat (left); Cristina Hayworth, S.V.A.
Ambassadress (up from Puerto Rico), riding
atop back seat (right); Rita "Rusty" Rose, former S.V.A. Secretary, back
seat/middle (not visible); and Maggie Walsh, front seat/middle (not
Convertible #2 - 1996 Jetta (black): Rev. Magora Kennedy, S.V.A. Chaplain, wearing beige hat (left rear); Janine Hakim, S.V.A. Executive Committee (right rear); and three other Stonewall Vetz.
Convertible #3 - 1999 BMW (red): Debbie 'Rubyfruit' Fierro, owner and driver; Stormé DeLarverie, S.V.A. Ambassador, wearing rainbow army helmet; plus one other Stonewall Vet.
Convertible #4 - 1965 Cadillac (white and leased from a movie car company): Professional and hot driver named Bruno; Molly Bee Aitken, S.V.A. Executive Committee, with big straw hat; Archbishop Charles Snyder (rear seat bottom), S.V.A. Executive Committee; Rose Jordan, S.V.A. Executive Committee (front seat/middle); and "Mama" Jean DeVente, 1970 Gay Parade Grand Marshal and S.V.A. Executive Committee.
Convertible #5 - 1969 Oldsmobile "98" (goldmist and surrounded by people in the photo): Ray McCaffrey, S.V.A. Financial Secretary; Tom Stevens, S.V.A. General Secretary; Leigh McManus, S.V.A. Corresponding Secretary; Bert Coffman, S.V.A. Executive Committee; Ramon Morales and another male Stonewall vet (6 out of 6) Tony Vierra.
Car #6 - 1998 Chrysler LeBaron Sedan (black): A few expatriated members of the S.V.A. (like former members of the "Titanic Society" -- they're still survivors), including Sylvia Rae Rivera, John-Paul "JP" Ranieri, Danny Darvin and Alan aka Warren "The Old Wren" Smith aka Miller, with a banner across the car hood which read "We Are Your History!" Sylvia since then surrendered to the S.V.A. and gave that banner -- and two others entitled "Friends of Stonewall 'Riot' Veterans" -- plus a Gay pride rainbow flag, to the S.V.A. Also with them was unknowing SW-Vet Bob DeSantis of California with his lover Rich in NYC visiting from Vancouver. (Since then, Bob joined the S.V.A.)
Car #7 - 1996 Thunderbird Convertible (blue): This is the seventh vehicle in the S.V.A. Flotilla and comandeered by Nance Lomax up from Philadelphia. This was the Drag Queen ("D/Q") car -- not that there weren't some scattered thoughout the other six cars!
|Where was Jeremiah Newton, the S.V.A. Vice-President? S.V.A. Answer: Representing the STONEWALL Veterans' Association in St. Louis, Missouri, leading their Gay Pride Parade and speaking at their GLBT rally! And, where was Williamson, S.V.A. President? Remember the photo credit: taking many photos (at many special stop points). Remember, we have some Stonewall Vetz who prefer to walk with the S.V.A. contingency such as John-Paul Ranieri (in from Wisconsin), Mark Zatlow (in from California), Keith Lonesome (up from Brooklyn), Carl Keller (down from Connecticut) and Jack Ramos (with Gay activist sign). The S.V.A. cannot even accommodate all of their Stonewall Vetz with seven cars!!!!!!!|
|The STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") was long ready for this one -- the 30th Anniversary of the historic 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. The huge "Stonewall 25", five years earlier, kind of snuck up on all of us. Hardly anyone could believe that a quarter-of-a-century had passed. In the interim, the S.V.A. lost more veterans due to the A.I.D.S. War, just as every other GLBT group and others lost friends. However, our Stonewall People are unique, historic and irreplaceable. In some ways, it is like survivors of the "S.S. Titanic". Every year the number of survivors decreases. In the above photo with seven Stonewall veterans, Williamson Henderson is performing the famous "Stop!" routine. Ridin' shotgun is Terri Van Dyke. Riding in the front middle seat is Maggie Walsh. In the car sitting atop the back seat are Yvonne Ritter, RN (left), Rusty Rose (center) and Cristina Hayworth (right). Driving the blue 1966 Cadillac (with stacked headlights) is SVA-er and car owner Richard Karlsson from Staten Island.|
|Although the S.V.A., the reason that there is a "Pride"
parade, had to as usual fight Heritage of Pride ("HOP"), the parade
organizers, to get vehicle permits for our convertible cars, especially
to transport the alleged "heroes" of the GLBT community who are senior
elders (75+), disabled (can't walk),
AIDS sufferers (severe pain) and/or infirmed (too ill). Oh, yeah,
limited-pride HOP wanted all of them to "walk" -- or maybe crawl!
Pride? Shame! We
had five convertibles in the parade. We needed and should of had
ten cars. So what? The bigger is the better when it comes
to parades, especially GLBT "Pride". Everyone knows that, even a
child. Ask one! Besides, if it weren't for the
veterans of the Stonewall Rebellion, there wouldn't be any GLBT Pride
Parade -- anywhere!
There was also a sixth car, comprised of a
few former members of the S.V.A., all of whom such as "Skunkgirl", "The
Old Bat", "Mister Bluster", "The Batty Bat" and "Gay Vader" were 86'd
various reasons over the past few years. Not to be
mysterious, but serious reasons such as threatening the life of
another Stonewall Veteran (Jeremiah Newton) -- at an S.V.A. meeting a
couple of years
prior at the GLBT Community Center. However, that offender
-- Sylvia Rae Rivera -- was
under the influence of drugs and booze and her customary nastiness and
vulgarity. As S.V.A. member Randy Wicker declared: "Sylvia
should not have come to the S.V.A. meeting in that horrid condition;
that was her second mistake."
Thus, SLR was unanimously 86'd from the S.V.A. by the folks
who know her best: the SW-Vetz!
The Stonewall Vetz will be disrespected ("dissed") no more! That's what we fought against whether without or within the "community". Such can unfortunately be the Gay "community". Anyway, we were glad to again have the show of unity and pride for this very special day. So, the Stonewall contingency totalled seven (7) vehicles. By the time this story ends -- on what should have been a great event -- the Stonewall Veterans were threatened by a homophobic police inspector prompted by a hateful, utterly disrespectful, viscious and unprideful official of HOP, nick-named "Big Mac". In fact, not only were we on the front cover with color photos of the main GLBT newspaper in N.Y.C., the New York Blade News (see front-page story below), but, among other newspapers, bulletins, newsletters, articles, etc., and in the New York Daily News, which literally caught the "big incident" and even did a very strong editorial entitled "Stonewall - It Still Matters". (See story below.)
|Arguing with a big cop and visibly shaken in the front-page photo are (l-2-r): Terri Van Dyke, S.V.A. Treasurer and AIDS activist (black print short-sleeve shirt wearing glasses); Rusty Rose, S.V.A. Executive Committee (partially seen with black cap, shades and arm raised with 1969 "Gay Power" fist salute); Janine Hakim, S.V.A. Executive Committee (back to camera with colorful print blouse); Rev. Magora Kennedy, S.V.A. Chaplain (wearing minister's white collar and holding a bible); and the infamous N.Y.C.P.D. Inspector John F. Gilmartin from Queens (with hand jive gestures and handy loaded gun). Please note that thanks to the S.V.A.'s effective Williamson Henderson, this was Inspector Gilmartin's last Gay Pride Parade "duty"! [On-the-scene color photography by The Clemons Sisters: Shari and Sheri.]|
|Proudly pictured in photo (lower right) on Sunday, June 27, 1999, are some of the courageous 30 Stonewall Vetz "sit-ins" (l-2-r): Janine Hakim (colorful matching outfit); Maggie Walsh (a very unhappy camper wearing purple t-shirt); Williamson Henderson (standing/leaning/talking, wearing white linen pants and a turquoise sports shirt); Miss Toni Polita (in light pink dress with shades); Rusti Rose (partially obscured in black vest and white t-shirt); and Terri Van Dyke (in yellow pants with flowery shirt all the while fighting a serious illness) -- all having to sit on the Christopher Street pavement during the parade to demonstrate against the demented disrespect, the sheer stupidity and the ludicrous lack of "pride" caused by one HOP-er and one Cop-per.|
S.V.A. Editor's Notes regarding New York Blade story:
This story was very prominent and effective in exposing the shame (although they never used the word) of "Stonewall-30", the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, in New York City. The New York Blade article by Tom McGeveran was done competently and sincerely. But, they did not expose the real Heritage of Pride ("HOP") culprit. However, the S.V.A. did! Also, like all newspapers, including The New York Times, misinformation, wrong words, inaccurate terms, etc. slip in. Incidentally, the writer called S.V.A. and apologized for the descriptive mistakes in the story, just as The New York Times' editors have called S.V.A. to apologize for their numerous mistakes regarding Gay events -- as recently as this month. For our readers of the STONEWALL Newzletta and visitors to the S.V.A. website, we will correct several inadvertent misstatements right now:
* Stonewall "Rebellion" should have been used in their opening sentence, not Stonewall "Riots", which they were not. (Writer wasn't there; we were.)
* Parade name (currently) is "New York City Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride March" (although it is quite obviously a 'Parade') not the no-such-thing-as the "Heritage of Pride Parade" (as written in story). Calling it that -- and this Blade writer is not the only one -- is analogous to referring to the "St. Patrick's Day Parade" as the "Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade". They are simply the nowadays organizers, not the reason for the parade and surely not the nameplate. Hey, Gay press, at least get the name right!
* The motorcycle group do not "lead" the parade. They are the 'escorts', thus clearing the way and loudly announcing the beginning of the parade. Everyone is familiar with the presidential 'escort' of motorcycles whenever the president is traveling in a motorcade. The Stonewall Veterans of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion "lead" the parade, as it should be, is and will be as long as there is one of us alive. Hello! Let's all GLBTs unitedly sing Aretha Franklin's song of The Stonewall together: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"!
* Williamson Henderson clearly did not say that S.V.A. "would be unable to sustain a confrontation with the police". On the total contrary, he said that: "The police would be unable, once again, to sustain a confrontation with the Stonewall Veterans! We won then without the support; this would be a cinch!" After all, WE -- the STONEWALL Veterans' Association -- now had thousands of 'troops' lined up 20-deep on all sides and tens of thousands within reach of a whistle's blow". Moreover, Williamson made it starkly clear that: "This time, unlike 1969, it would really be a 'riot' and this time the revolution will be recorded, photographed and televised." However, he decided that he did not want the S.V.A.'s own aging "heroes", 30 years later, subjected to 'double jeopardy', many were sitting ducks in open convertibles, caught and injured (or worse) in the middle of a massive, overflowing street battle that could boomerang like dominoes all the way back up the parade route to the front steps of St. Pat's!
L.G.N.Y. Paper Updates More on "STONEWALL 30" OUT-rage!
New York Blade News
Publishes S.V.A. Vice-President's Letter:
"Stonewall Veterans Fight Back!"
Jeremiah Newton's letter to the New York Blade News regarding "Stonewall 30" in NYC
New York Daily News: "STONEWALL - It Still Matters"
Gay History Month
Anniversary of the NYC Stonewall Rebellion=====
[Friday night, June 27 ~through~ Thursday evening, July 3, 1969, Manhattan, New York City]