How Stonewall Can Give Us The Answers We Need Right Now

June 27, 2019 11:35 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Versión en español.

One Night Can Change the World

Earlier this month, my husband Nate, our boys, and I took a much-needed New York City vacation. Everywhere we walked, from pizza joints to high-end fashion houses, we saw the rainbow flag proudly waving. The city where the Stonewall Riots erupted and forever transformed the lives of millions of queer people is celebrating that history in its own capitalist fashion. Even if we want to question the ethics of these businesses profiting from the Stonewall activists’ sacrifices, it is miraculous that we’ve come this far in just 50 years, a diminutive sliver of human history.

Stonewall Inn was a grimy, Mafia-owned dive that didn’t have a liquor license and sold diluted, bootlegged drinks. However, its patrons did not come for the quality of the alcohol. They came for the experience Stonewall offered. It was one of the few places in the city that provided a space for queer people to interact freely. No one knows why Stonewall’s staff wasn’t tipped off that the police would come that June night in 1969—they were usually warned—but as soon as the police walked through the doors, they began asking to see patrons’ IDs. If the gender specified in their papers didn’t match what someone looked like, they took them to the bathroom and forced them to undress. They then arrested those who were not presenting themselves in the gender they were born as. A biracial butch lesbian activist named Stormé DeLarverie kept getting dragged away by the police and escaping them until she was clubbed in the head. As she was forced into the police wagon with her head wound bleeding, she asked the crowd gathered outside to fight back. They did. That night and in the coming days, thousands of activists answered her call. A revolution was born.

As we watch today’s world seemingly spin out of control with unrelenting cruelty and injustice, it is good to remember that one group of people can change the future of millions of others by saying they’ve had enough. We can’t heal everything that is wrong with our planet and its inhabitants, but we can certainly make a difference on the issues that matter the most to us—, as Stormé and her fellow activists did half a century ago.

We Hosted Rough Cut Screenings of The Weeping Season

In early June, we hosted a number of focus group screenings of The Weeping Season at our house. We had powerful and generative conversations about what works and what doesn’t work in our current version. We are now taking a break from the film to reflect on how to implement the fantastic feedback we received and to get more funding so we can continue the work. I’m a staunch believer in taking breaks from creative processes because one comes back refreshed and with exciting new perspectives on the work. I can’t wait to see what we discover and create when we return to the film.

Unearthed Photo of the Month

I have always been close with my dad’s older sister, Rima. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s had a luminous wit, an artist’s heart, and a rebel spirit, dressing like the hippie she was in the 60s and 70s. It was hard for me to recognize her when she showed me this photo from 1958 of her striking a flamenco pose in Washington DC. A few years after that image was taken, she’d become a Civil Rights activist, watching Martin Luther King speak and getting arrested multiple times as she marched in the name of racial equality. It was hard to reconcile those stories with the regal and elegant woman posing in this image at the end of rehearsal at the studio where she learned and would later teach flamenco. The more I looked at the photo, though, the more I realized that, even though her outfit doesn’t match the images of her youth I’ve created in my mind, she is posed like the warrior she was and still is. She might not look the part of a Civil Rights protester, but she seems poised to stand up for what she believes in. Even as the way we dress and style our hair changes over the decades, perhaps the essence of who we are holds firm as we navigate the dance of figuring out who we are and who we want to become.

Our Computers and Writing Conference Presentation

Last week I had the wonderful fortune of presenting at a panel about faculty, graduate, and undergraduate student collaborations in running editorial teams for digital publications at the Computers and Writing Conference. I was very proud of MA student Jessica Gibbons and junior Megan Elias for their thoughtful and engaging insight on what they’ve learned by working on our publication agnès films: supporting women and feminist filmmakers.

My Film Teta Screens in an Indian Film Festival

My short documentary Teta: a nursing mother tells her story screened in The Buddha International Film Festival in Pune, Maharashtra, India this month. It is the film’s 24th film festival screening and its second in India.

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Versión en español.
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This post was written by Tiffany McIntyre

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