Wednesday, May 01, 2019

“History Is Written By The Victors”

A corollary to that is “history is written by those who have the best PR firm.”

Stonewall Uprising is coming up on the fiftieth anniversary and the rebellion has been rewritten by the Gays.
50 Years After Stonewall, We’re Still Disagreeing About What Happened There. That’s Why the Archives Matter
By Jason Baumann
April 30, 2019

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a moment of resistance by LGBTQ people against homophobia and transphobia, police harassment and exploitation by organized crime. The conflict started in the wee hours of June 28, 1969, and continued for almost a week. The Stonewall Inn was an illegal club, operating without a liquor license, controlled by the mafia and regularly raided by the police. Stonewall was frequented by a range of LGBTQ patrons, mostly gay men, but also lesbians, drag queens and transgender and gender-nonconforming patrons. And beyond the clientele in the club itself, Stonewall existed in the larger context of Greenwich Village, where many queer and transgender youth were living on the streets, abandoned and rejected by their families and the society at large.

Given the tremendous gains made by LGBTQ activists in the intervening years, it can be difficult for people to remember the oppression suffered by LGBTQ people in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. Homosexuality was illegal in almost every state in the U.S., with legal penalties ranging from three months in jail in New York to possible life in prison in Nevada. Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness by the psychiatric profession; many LGBTQ people spent long hours in psychoanalysis attempting to be cured, and could also be subjected to electroshock therapy or involuntary institutionalization by psychiatrists and unaccepting families. In New York, LGBTQ people could be denied service in bars or arrested for wearing clothing that did not match their legally-assigned gender.
And we still are!
Luckily, there are archives that preserve the original documents from this pivotal time, including political leaflets, posters, little magazines and oral history interviews. The New York Public Library has preserved much of this history, and is presenting a range of these original documents for the public in the Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50 exhibition and a new anthology The Stonewall Reader. These resources allow us to encounter this original historical moment ourselves and better understand how it felt and what it ultimately meant.

One of these documents is this flyer “Where were you during the Christopher St. Riots?” produced by the Mattachine Society of New York shortly after Stonewall.

As those of us that have fought for our right age and pass away it is important that we keep our history alive.

Are you an activist?

Are you saving you correspondence?

I am, why are you not giving your history to be archived? Do you want our history to go the way of Stonewall where the gays claim credit for the uprising… “We were all gay” and as a result trans people and lesbians were written out of the history of Stonewall.

Many college libraries are now starting LGBTQ+ archives, I have donated my trans stuff to the Elihu Burritt Library at Central Connecticut State University. My donation includes the actual bill that Governor Malloy signed for the birth certificate law.

Three of the major archives are…
Please consider donation your trans history!

1 comment:

  1. The archives at CCSU are a tremendous resource for any one who wants to know ourstories. One of the contributors to the archives was Rev. Canon Clinton Jones. An early pioneer in Transgender rights here in Connecticut. A couple of months ago Jerimarie Liesegang and myself had the pleasure to look through the archives for a Trans Timeline we are doing. What to know all about our early stories those are the archives to learn from. Want to know about the founding of the XX Club, the Gender Identity Clinic of New England, the early LGBT prison reform movement in Ct., how about the George Henry Foundation, the counseling for Gays who went on to form the activist Kalos Society and so much more.
    I am happy to hear that you are donating to the archives Diana to help continue this story. Jerimarie has begun to get her archives together for donation. What a tremendous resource this section on the Transgender movement of archives will be for students and researchers.

    One thing I know is that the archives do not tell lies. One very valuable resource at CCSU is the Metroline. Writers for that publication wrote, told the story, they were honest in reporting many details of our movement for justice.

    From one button, to a folder of papers to a box full, never think that you do not have something to offer in building our stories for future generations to know the truth about us and our movement.

    I hope you will continue to write about the archives at CCSU so we can continue to build on the information that is housed there.