Monday, June 15, 2009

40 Year Old Table

On Saturday The Ali Forney Center hosted a panel discussion on the involvement of queer youth during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. The panel consisted of two actual Stonewall Riot participants, Martin Boyce and Tommy Lanigan Schmidt as well as Ali Forney Center Executive Director Carl Siciliano and four of today's LGBT youth, all in their early twenties, answering questions relating to the ever changing now vs. then Queer spectrum.

The youth, two of whom were transwomen came across as confident and sturdily self possessed when discussing topics like being gay in today's world, coming out and how history serves as a backdrop for today's sense pride and personal identity. As a whole the four seemed ambitious and spoke to their current lives and potential futures as though their identity and diversity serve only as an asset to who they are and who they hope to become.

40 years down the table Thomas Lanigan Schmidt and Martin Boyce, who were both twenty somethings during the summer of 1969 spoke of gay life during that time, their experience, struggles and triumphs and being the first in history to step out. Lanigan Schmidt talked about realizing his attraction to men when a best friend protected him from a local bully and Boyce described a New York where gay bashing was a city sport and electro-shock treatment a consequence. Yet still there was much talk of celebration, of life. A jukebox at the Stonewall, the rage in a queen's eye.

Below Martin Boyce sets the stage for life as a queen living in NYC in 1969 and at the 4:30 mark describes being at the Stonewall Inn the nights of the historic riots.


Dave in Oz said...

It was people like Martin and Thomas who, with so many others, blazed the trail for today's LGBT population - but there's still so far to go on so many fronts.

It was interesting to hear Martin's description of that night at Stonewall - it seems like another era - eons ago.

Thanks for posting this, Eric.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Eric. I've never heard anyone describe first-hand the events of that night. I've also never read a description; is there any collection of these expirences?