Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It seems unreal that Stonewall was forty years ago.  Sometimes it seems like it’s been 100 years, sometimes only last week.  I wonder if I will be around for the fiftieth anniversary.  My remaining days seem to be numbered like the grains of sand in a goldfish bowl.

For the past few months I have been interviewed by everyone from a straight clueless kid from the BBC to a very smart and prepared Ronnie (“Make Me a Supermodel”) Kroell for his new “Straight Talk” program.  I’ve been filmed for a documentary on Stonewall being prepared for “The American Experience” with a planned airing on PBS in April 2010, and featured in a David Carter article in the June/July issue of The Advocate with a great photo by Shen Wei (see the post for April 10th below).  “In the Life” is even presenting a dialogue between literary giant Edmund White and me this August on PBS.  (And you thought the Museum of Natural History had a lock on the dinosaur market!)

And the more I get interviewed, the less I know where we are at.  A few years back I lost all hope for the future of the two movements I more or less dedicated my life to, alternative theater and the queer community. Both were reeling from burnout and AIDS and the intramural sniping of political correctness.  But suddenly I started meeting theater people like Mark Finley and Barry Childs and Kathleen Warnock and Chris Weikel and Shay Gines and Jonathan Reuning and Frank Kuzler and Jamie Heinlein and Mark Waren and Christopher Borg and the list goes on and on.  And I know there is indeed a new generation more than willing and able to grab the torch and carry it high.  With people like Ronnie Kroell, writer Kirk Reed (How I Learned to Snap), photographer Shen Wei, the same seems to be happening for the GLBT family.

I also discovered something important about Stonewall.  For years I have heard people describe the event as angry and I suppose in a way it was.  But that was not the main emotion I remember experiencing that night.  I could never seem to find the right words.  While filming the “American Experience” documentary it suddenly came clear to me.  The first reaction that night was shock and then awe that we were coming out of the “twilight” and actually standing up to authority—fighting back.  And what followed was a giddy and joyous glee.  And somehow we knew nothing would ever be quite the same again.

Modern gay theater has an earlier natal day.  Playwright Robert Patrick dates it to the Caffe Cino in 1961 and my play on the trial of Oscar Wilde, Now She Dances!  This was quickly followed by wonderful plays by Lanford Wilson (The Madness of Lady Bright) and David Starkweather (The Straights of Magellan) and Robert Heide (The Bed) and William M. Hoffman (Good Night, I Love You)  and Robert Patrick (The Haunted Host) This list also goes on and on.

This June I have three plays in production and an appearance pending (details below):

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I remember your contending that the raid on the Snake Pit was more important in leading to changes in policing in an article in Gay Times. I was hoping it might be online, but couldn't find it and can't find the copy I saved of the original article.

I can see that "Stonewall generation" sounds better than "Snake Pit generation," though commemorating a Mafia bar seems an undeserved tribute. On the first anniversary, there was a commemoration of "the Sheridan Square Riots," a label I prefer.