FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs 06-11
Buy Cable, Free Gun
Assault on Civil Liberties
SC Lets DA Off
Roots of Stonewall
Free Speech for People
Meaning of Madison
Budgets, Taxes, Classes
The Missing Story
War on the Earth
Zaps - 06/11
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The Real Roots of Stonewall and the Gay Liberation Movement
Throughout the 1960s and until peace was declared in 1975, the Vietnam War was the backdrop that defined everything that was happening in the United States. The Eisenhower administration had sent close to 900 advisors to South Vietnam to prevent what the U.S. saw as a potential communist takeover by the North Vietnamese. By 1963, President Kennedy had dispatched 16,000 American military personnel. Howard Zinn, in A People’s History of the United States, notes: “From 1964 to 1972, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world made a maximum military effort, with everything short of atomic bombs, to defeat a nationalist revolutionary movement in a tiny, peasant country—and failed.... In the course of the war, there developed in the United States the greatest anti-war movement the nation had ever experienced.”
By the end of the war, the losses on all sides were tremendous. The United States suffered the least with 58,159 men dead, 303,635 wounded, and 1,719 reported missing. The South Vietnamese government reported 220,357 dead and 1,170,000 wounded. The National Liberation Front in North Vietnam reported 1,176,000 dead or missing and a minimum of 600,000 wounded. The civilian casualties were staggering: two million in North Vietnam and over a million and a half in South Vietnam.
The popular movement against the war started in the early 1960s with national faith-based peace groups such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation, American Friends Service Committee, and the Catholic Worker Movement. It then quickly spread to youth-based political groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), one of the founding groups of the New Left, organized in 1960 with the writing of its manifesto, the “Port Huron Statement.”
The United States soon saw the worst outbreaks of sustained public violence since the labor riots and strikes of the 1920s. The most shocking of these were the assassinations of Med- gar Evers, John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy. Between 1964 and 1969 there were close to 75 major urban race-related riots across the country in cities as large as Los Angeles and New York and as small as York, Pennsylvania and Plainfield, New Jersey. After the King assassination, there were riots in 60 cities. In total there were close to 120 deaths, by a conservative count over 3,000 injured, over 50,000 arrested, and billions in damage. Almost all of the people killed, injured, or arrested were African American.
In 1966, the Black Panther Party formed in order to pursue more militant and aggressive tactics in the name of the Black Power movement. Private and police assassinations of civil rights workers, both Black and white, and of members of Black Power groups, were somewhat frequent.
Beginning in the 1960s—with the approval of the birth control pill by the Federal Drug Administration—the second wave of the feminist movement began. For nearly half a century, feminists had identified lack of reproductive control as a central impediment to women’s personal, sexual, and economic independence and freedom. The pill separated sex from reproduction, marriage, and the family. In 1961 doctors wrote 400,000 prescriptions. A year later, 1.2 million women were taking it. Three years later that number jumped to 3.6 million women.
By the end of the 1960s, radical feminism added an analysis of heterosexuality—an analysis often implicit in the writings of the homophile groups—to the understanding of women’s oppression. Groups such as the Redstockings and Cell 16 often drew on a Marxist analysis of women as a distinct cultural group and as an oppressed class of people. Like the anarchists and radical labor activists in the early part of the century and the more recent Black Power advocates, radical feminists were not interested in reforming a system they considered essentially corrupt, but in replacing it with one that was more just and equitable. Under the umbrella of the Women’s Liberation Front (WLF), radical feminist groups began staging high-profile demonstrations, including the September 1968 “No More Miss America!” protest in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The progressive politics of the late 1960s included the principle that people had complete autonomy and control over their body. This included freedom from violence, control of reproduction, the ability to engage in consensual sexual behavior, and the freedom to take drugs. Like much of the counterculture, political messages were framed in sexual contexts. To promote draft resistance, folk singers Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Farina posed for a poster that read “Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No.”
At the August 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, conservative Democratic mayor Richard Daley deployed 23,000 police to manage 10,000 anti-war demonstrators. Violent chaos ensued as police tear-gassed and beat the mostly peaceful demonstrators. The official government investigation of Convention violence called it a “police riot.” Captured on film, the violence was so extreme that it received worldwide condemnation, even as U.S. polls showed widespread support for the police. In October 1968, SDS passed a resolution titled “The Elections Don’t Mean Shit, Vote Where the Power Is, Our Power Is In The Street.”
Demonstrators on NYC street in 1969—photo by Diana Davies
Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969—photo from the NY Daily News
GLF students and supporters demonstrate and occupy NYU’s Weinstein Hall in 1970—photo by Diana Davies
Following these models, homosexual liberation became predominantly a political question. In early 1969, Carl Wittman, the son of Communist Party members and a contributor to the “Port Huron Statement,” wrote “A Gay Manifesto.” It became the defining document for a new movement. In the conclusion, Wittman lists “An Outline of Imperatives for Gay Liberation”:
1. Free ourselves: come out everywhere; initiate self defense and political activity; initiate counter community institutions
2. Turn other gay people on: talk all the time; understand, forgive, accept
3. Free the homosexual in everyone: we’ll be getting a good bit of shit from threatened latents: be gentle, and keep talking & acting free
4. We’ve been playing an act for a long time, so we’re consummate actors. Now we can begin to be, and it’ll be a good show
Wittman’s combination of community building, constructive dialogue, good will, trust, and fun was a mixture of New Left organizing, homosexual playfulness, and the important directive: to come out. For gay liberationists, coming out—a term not commonly used before then—was a radical, public act and a decisive break with the past. While homophile groups argued that homosexuals could find safety by promoting privacy, Gay Liberation argued that safety and liberation could only be found by living in, challenging, and changing the public sphere.
Physical resistance was the logical course of action in this context. In August 1968, transvestites and street people in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District fought with police over two days at the Compton Cafeteria after management called in the police to eject some rowdy customers. A year later, in the early hours of Saturday, June 28, the police conducted a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. They evicted patrons and arrested some of the staff. A crowd gathered and clashes with the police ensued. Even though the bar had been closed, crowds gathered again and the scene was repeated, with less violence, on Saturday evening. After some calm, there was more protesting and violence the following Wednesday night. The events at Stonewall were not riots, but sustained street altercations of raucous, sometimes violent, resistance. The culture of political militance was evident in the slogans such as “Gay Power” and “They Want Us To Fight For Our Country [But] They Invade Our Rights.”
The only viable gay political organization in New York at that time was Mattachine. They viewed Stonewall and the political activities that ensued as a disruptive departure from their political process. According to David Carter, on June 28, Mattachine was already working with the police to stop further protests. They even posted a sign on the closed bar: “We homosexuals plead with our people to please help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the village.” According to Donn Teal, at one of the last Mattachine meetings before the break, Jim Fouratt, a younger member, insisted that “All the oppressed have to unite. The system keeps us all weak by keeping us separate.”
Following Stonewall, a coalition of disgruntled Mattachine members who identified with the antiwar, pro-Black Power, New Left called for a meeting on July 24, 1969 with a flyer that read: “Do you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your sweet ass we are.”
This radical change in rhetoric was indicative of fiercely anti-hierarchical, free-for-all, consensus-driven discussion. Out of it emerged the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which took its name from the Women’s Liberation Front, which in turn had taken its name from the Vietnamese National Liberation Front. More traditionally anarchist than leftist, GLF’s lack of structure and clash of ideas was indicative of the intellectual, social, sexual, and political excitement of the time. Teal quotes one member as stating “GLF is more of a process than an organization.” But it was a powerful process that produced results. Within a year, Teal notes, GLF had 19 cells or action groups, 12 consciousness raising groups, an ongoing radical study group, an all men’s meeting, a women’s caucus, 3 communal living groups, a series of successful community dances, and the newspaper Come Out! The publication became a model for numerous influential LGBT community newspapers, including Michigan’s Gay Liberator, Philadelphia’s Gay Alternative, San Francisco’s Gay Sunshine, and Boston’s Fag Rag and Gay Community News. Hundreds of independent GLF groups were organized on college campuses and in cities across the country.
Michael Bronski is a senior lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at Dartmouth College. His books include A Queer History of the United States (excerpted here), the first volume in the ReVisioning American History series from Beacon Press.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.