Category Archives: Friends

Jesse’s Journal: Stonewall at 40

As an event and as a symbol, the Stonewall Riots of June 27-29 1969 continues to shape our lives.  Forty years later, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender generation that was not even born in 1969 looks back fondly at “the Stonewall girls” as role models for GLBT activism and resistance. Even so, there are many young people today who do not know what “Stonewall” was, or what is represents, or why so many of our institutions and organizations are named after it.
Stonewall_pioneers When “Stonewall” took place, I lived in Miami. I was sixteen years old, in high school and uncertain about my future. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school in 1972 that I learned about the events that shook Greenwich Village three years before.  By then the event that Martin Duberman (in his 1993 study Stonewall) called “the emblematic event in modern lesbian and gay history,” had already become a symbol of pride and resistance. The late Donn Teal, whose Gay Militants (1971) included the best account of the Riots prior to the one in David Carter’s Stonewall (2004), wrote that Stonewall “jolted awake . . . an only half-remembered outrage against straight society’s bigotries in those older, generally conservative ‘Boys in the Band’ who had been out of town on the weekend of the 27th-28th-29th, tanning their thighs at Cherry Grove and the Hamptons. And, as a slur, it posed a challenge to and goal for those younger . . . gays who’d had to make do with Greenwich Village and who’d seen [the] action.  It may have created the gay liberation movement.”
Though Stonewall inspired a generation of young New Yorkers (and others), its effect on the rest of us was more symbolic than real. After all, Stonewall was not the beginning of queer liberation. The Riots came after almost two decades of Mattachine Society and ONE and Daughters of Bilitis and Tangents and Janus Society and Society for Individual Rights and West Side Discussion Group; of demonstrations in Philadelphia and  Washington, D.C.; and of riots in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and elsewhere. It was the much-maligned Mattachine Society that got New York City to repeal its law against serving liquor to homosexuals in 1966, three years before Stonewall. (The NYPD continued to raid gay bars after the Riots, as it continues to do so today, though not because of the bar patrons’ sexual orientation.) Historian John Loughery was right when, in The Other Side of Silence, he pointed out that Stonewall was only the climax of a “maelstrom” year of gay resistance and activism.
New York City is the capital of America’s communications industry, and anything that happens there gets blown out of proportion. Though the New York media — especially the Village Voice, which had an office down the street from the Stonewall Inn – covered the Riots in their own unique ways, out of town papers largely ignored the event. And I was not the only gay person who lived through 1969 in blissful ignorance of Stonewall.  In fact, most gays at the time were not aware of the Riots till they became a symbol. For most lesbians, Stonewall made less of an impact on their lives than the feminist movement, then in its heyday. To this day there is still doubt as to what role lesbians played in the Stonewall Riots, or even if there were lesbians at the Stonewall Inn.
StoneWallInnLike any symbolic event, the truth about Stonewall lies hidden in myth and legend. To this day, the Uprising has been attributed to a variety of causes, from the full moon to Judy Garland’s death (her funeral was on the morning before the Riots). Even the names and number of Rioters are in dispute: for example, the transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, who played a mayor role in Duberman’s Stonewall, is absent from Carter’s Stonewall. None of the Rioters – Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Jackie Hormona, Zazu Nova or Jim Fouratt, just to name a few – achieved the mythic status given Diego Viñales, the Argentine student who was impaled on a fence while trying to escape the cops in the aftermath of a police raid on the Snake Pit, another Village bar (March 8, 1970). The Stonewall Riots were largely a group effort; and history has kept it that way.
Having said all that, one must give Stonewall credit where credit is due. Taking place in 1969, Stonewall was the culmination of a decade of political activism and resistance. Some Rioters were veterans of the 60s counterculture and/or the civil rights, antiwar, feminist or youth movements, and used their experiences to help create a new, more radical gay liberation movement. New York activists, living at the hub of American business and culture, used their privileged positions to launch a national movement.  For much of the seventies — until the rise of Harvey Milk, himself a New Yorker who moved to San Francisco — New York activists led most of the groups that we joined (or its local chapters) and published most of the books that we read.
All in all, the Stonewall Riot’s greatest achievement was their impact on the hearts and minds of several generations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Though many heterosexuals remained firmly antigay, most of us who are G, L, B or T learned to accept and celebrate who we are. Thus it is significant that the anniversary of Stonewall has become the date of most annual GLBT Pride celebrations, not only in New York City but around the world. The late poet Allen Ginsberg, one of the fathers of our movement, saw the significance of Stonewall when he visited the site of the Riots soon after the first night: “Gay power!  Isn’t that great! . . . We’re one of the largest minorities in the country – 10 per cent, you know.  It’s about time we did something to assert ourselves.”
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and gay activist who lives in South Florida with his life partner.  Write him at

It’s none of your business!

…and furthermore…if the churches continue to actively lobby against these particular legislations and participate in the electoral process by taking sides, we need to demand that their nonprofit status be TAKEN AWAY! They have a right to their opinion…but they don't have a right to my tax dollars to promote it.

RFD: 35 Years – Remarkably Festive Divas


Join the NYC Circle of Radical Faeries for an evening of readings, ritual, high drag and magic! Celebrate the 35th anniversary of RFD,

the digest of the Radical Faerie community.

Saturday, May 30th at BLUESTOCKINGS

6:00 PM Meet, Greet, Drum and Chant

7:00 PM Readings…and…


RFDIssue132 The current issue explores the relationship between the Radical Faerie's ritual practices and Starhawk's Reclaiming Collective. It includes articles on the life of Faeries and Witches in the 1970', 80's and 90's
as well as meditations on the current practice of Faerie Ritual. Rare back copies from the last 35 years of quarterly publication will also be available for sale. 

a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center
in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
172 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, one block south of Houston and First Avenue.

By train: F train to 2nd Ave , exit at 1st Ave , and walk one block south.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex
(a.k.a. Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will
be very, very close.


Marriage Lest the news of Proposition 8 be the ultimate buzz kill for today (which it sort of is), it's worth reading the opinion from California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who was the only judge dissenting in today's 6-1 decision upholding Proposition 8. Moreno, who was actually rumored to be on Obama's shortlist for the open Supreme Court vacancy that this morning went to Sonia Sotomayor, had this to say:


In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning.  Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons.  I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.

It's nice to know that at least one Judge has his wits about him.

Proposition 8 contradicts California's equal protection clause.

Witt Pratt – Maker of Beauty.. Rest In Peace

Witt_cat I just received word that a good friend, Witt Pratt, a dear deep luscious soul of great beauty and creativity, is no longer alive in this world.  I'm in a state of shock with the news.  He was such a delight in my life and even though I didn't know him long before he moved from the city, he gave of himself with every interaction.  He was the sort of guy who would light up every room he walked into.

I had the chance to interview him for White Crane a few years ago.  I so loved interviewing him for the issue, which was on "Craft."  He was a friend, but he was more importantly, a man who had dedicated his life to making beauty without making any excuses for it:

65_wittpratt Well, I think that whether its hobby or salvation or occupation or preoccupation, it depends on how we look at it. I do believe that as difficult as it may be that it is possible for us to decide that we would rather spend our lives expressing ourselves in that way. In my case the expression is with knitting, in somebody else’s case with making really amazing cakes, or whatever. Sometime ago I decided to do that. But it took a conscious decision and it took a lot of conscious effort to bring what had been a hobby or a pastime into a more enriching and focal position in my life.

By its own being, it is creation in motion. Like so many things if we take the time to notice, when you’ve got a ball of yarn, which to many of us represents nothing short of infinite possibility, the world just opens up before you. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found this for myself. Knitting can be practical, it can be nonsensical, it can be insanely complex or completely simple. There’s beauty in all of it if you take the time to notice it. I’m thankful to be able to notice that and just want for everyone to find something in the world that they can notice that enriches them similarly.

The excerpted interview is here:

In his memory, whether you knew him or not, I invite you to pay attention to your surroundings, to speak about the beauty you see, to go out of your way to make others happy in their day.  This was what he taught me by his presence and his example.  My thoughts are with his beloved Gary who I know is deeply missing his fere, his companion, his heart.  I know he was so close to his beloved mother Bobbie, and my heart goes out to her as well.

Rodger McFarlane – R.I.P.

The following statement was released by friends and family of Rodger McFarlane today:

Rodger-Web New York, Monday, May 18, 2009 – It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our friend, colleague, and hero, Rodger McFarlane. A pioneer and legend in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and HIV/AIDS movements, Rodger took his own life in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico last Friday. In a letter found with his remains, Rodger explained that he was unwilling to allow compounding heart and back problems to become even worse and result in total debilitation. We know that Rodger was in a great deal of pain. Already disabled in his own mind, he could no longer work out or do all the outdoor activities he so loved. He was also now faced with the realization that he could literally not travel, making employment increasingly difficult. As his friends and family, we thought it was important that we communicate to the world that it has lost an amazingly wonderful individual who contributed so mightily to our humanity.

Rodger approached every aspect of his life with boundless passion and vigor. While many people go their entire lives wanting to be good at just one thing, Rodger excelled at virtually everything he did. Brilliant activist and strategist, decorated veteran, accomplished athlete, best-selling author, and humanitarian are just a few of the accolades that could be used to describe our friend. To know Rodger was to love an irreverent, wise-cracking Southerner who hardly completed a sentence that didn’t include some kind of four-letter expletive. He fought the right fight every day, was intolerant of silence, and organized whole communities of people to advocate for justice. These were traits that endeared him to us and are traits that make his legacy incredibly rich and powerful.

The power of Rodger’s many personal and professional accomplishments cannot be denied. He was on the forefront of responding to the AIDS epidemic that ravaged our country – and specifically the gay community – in the 1980’s. Before HIV even had a name, in 1981, Rodger set up the very first hotline anywhere; he just set it up on his own phone. That was the Rodger we knew. A born strategist and leader, Rodger took three organizations in their infancy and grew each into a powerhouse in its own way, empowered to tackle this national tragedy.

One of the original volunteers and the first paid executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s first and largest provider of AIDS client services and public education programs, Rodger increased the organization's fundraising from a few thousand dollars to the $25 million agency it is today. Until his death, he was the president emeritus of Bailey House, the nation's first and largest provider of supportive housing for homeless people with HIV.

From 1989 to 1994, he was executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), merging two small industry-based fundraising groups into one of America's most successful and influential AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. During his tenure at BC/EFA, annual revenue increased from less than $1 million to more than $5 million, while also leveraging an additional $40 million annually through strategic alliances with other funders and corporate partnerships. Rodger was also a founding member of ACT UP – NY, the now legendary protest group responsible for sweeping changes to public policy as well as drug treatment and delivery processes.

Most recently, Rodger served as the executive director of the Gill Foundation, one of the nation’s largest funders of programs advocating for LGBT equality. He transformed the Foundation by sharpening its strategic purpose. He focused its philanthropy in the states, aligned its investment with political imperatives and forged relationships with straight allies that helped to further both the LGBT movement as well as the greater progressive movement. Rodger was instrumental in the creation of the Gill Foundation’s sister organization, Gill Action. The brilliance of Rodger’s vision is being seen today as important protections for LGBT people become a reality in more and more states.

No one will ever doubt that our friend Rodger lived a rich and complete life. A proud U.S. Navy veteran, Rodger was a licensed nuclear engineer who conducted strategic missions in the North Atlantic and far Arctic regions aboard a fast attack submarine. A gifted athlete, he was a veteran of seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole. He also competed internationally for many years as an elite tri-athlete, and in 1998 and 2002, competed in the Eco-Challenges in Morocco and Fiji, where he captained an all-gay female-majority team.

In spite of the fact that Rodger never completed college, he was an accomplished and best-selling author and the producer of works for the stage. Rodger was the co-author of several books, including The Complete Bedside Companion: No Nonsense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill (Simon & Schuster, 1998), and most recently, Larry Kramer’s The Tragedy of Today’s Gays (Penguin, 2005). In 1993, he co-produced the Pulitzer Prize-nominated production of Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me, the sequel to The Normal Heart.

Rodger had a reputation as a hard-ass. That reputation didn’t do him justice. Many of us will remember Rodger as a caregiver, a man who nursed countless friends and family members battling cancer and AIDS. He was the most compassionate and giving of friends, especially to those in physical or emotional distress.

His many achievements were recognized throughout his life. Most recently, he had received the Patient Advocacy Award from the American Psychiatric Association. Other honors included the New York City Distinguished Service Award, the Presidential Voluntary Action Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award, and the Emery Award from the Hetrick Martin Institute, as well as Tony and Drama Desk honors.

How do you sum up someone’s life in just a few words? It’s impossible and you can’t. To commemorate Rodger’s life, his friends will organize celebrations of his, the details of which are still in the planning stages. If Rodger was anything, he was a character through and through; there are, quite literally, thousands of “Rodger stories.” That’s part of what made him such a special person. During our celebrations, we’ll share some of these stories and reflect on the many legacies left by our friend for life, Rodger McFarlane.

Information on donations in memorial will also be forthcoming.

Bea Arthur – We Loved You.

I was sad to read that Bea Arthur passed this weekend. Over the years I've heard rumors that she was a Lesbian, and it isn't hard to believe. But I don't know it for a fact. It would fit, though, with my remembrance of this strong, smart, brave woman. I had personal history with her.

In 1976 I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, where I had just been "the naked guy" in Clint Eastwood's The Enforcer. I had no lines, but because I was required to be naked in the scene, I was given my Screen Actors Guild card, the holy grail for a budding actor. Much to my chagrin, you won't find me in the credits, but I'm the naked guy on the bed in the scene when the bad guy, whose being chased by Dirty Harry, falls through the skylight and crashes into the midst of a porn movie being shot. My mother was so proud. All I see when I watch it now is that I once had a beautiful head of hair.

But I digress…I moved to Los Angeles (as crew with A Chorus Line, another story), and, as is my wont, got involved with SAG union activities. I was serving on the SAG Morals & Ethics Committee in 1977 when Anita Bryant announced that she was bringing her pitiful, small-minded ignorance, intolerance and fear to California in the form of support for State Senator John Briggs' Proposition 6, the Prop 8 of the day, that would have forbid Gay people…or any of their supporters…from holding teaching jobs in California. Nice, huh?

I decided that the Screen Actors Guild needed to be the first industry union to come out against Prop 6, and that the only way to accomplish that was to get some big star power to appear before the Morals & Ethics Committee and demand it.

Beatrice-Arthur Enter Bea Arthur. Ms. Arthur had just made a splash in Norman Bea Arthur - Mame  Lear's Maude, and would receive the first of two career Emmy's (the other for Golden Girls) that year for her groundbreaking work as the title character. On television, there just wasn't a bigger star. And if the only role she'd ever played was Vera Charles opposite Angela Lansbury in Mame, she would forever be a star in my firmament, (and opposite Lucille Ball in the film even if Lucille Ball was miserably miscast).

But I digress, again…It was just about this time of the year that I sat down and wrote a letter to Ms. Arthur, outlining my idea. I mailed the letter and didn't think anything more about it. It was a shot in the dark.

Weeks later, May 16th was my birthday, and I was getting ready to go out on the town with friends. Literally, just as we were heading out the front door, the phone rang (cell phones were still a Dick Tracy fantasy…I could still decide whether or not I was going to stop and answer). I picked up, said hello, and heard the unmistakable, gravelly contralto of Bea Arthur,

"Is Bo Young there?"

"Speaking," I said, my heart pounding out of my chest, my wide eyes popping out of their sockets as I pantomimed to my friends at the door, who were wondering what was going on.

"Well hello," she growled on, "I just wanted to let you know that I received your letter and I wanted you to know I'll do whatever you want me to do."

To which I responded, with breathless gratitude, "Oh god bless you Ms. Arthur!"

To which she responded, "What's this 'god bless you' shit?…I didn't sneeze."

The surprise was finding out, later, just how shy a woman this powerhouse actor was. When I met with her she insisted that I write something for her to say when she came before the committee because she was sure she would become tongue-tied and not be effective. Maude. Not effective. Right. She did everything I asked, just as promised, to perfection. Reading my lines to the committee, which immediately came through with the required vote, which then went on to the larger Steering Committee of the Screen Actors Guild, which was the first industry union to oppose the Briggs Initiative. As a result I was brought into the campaign as "assistant state press secretary" to Sally Fisk.

Later, I had cause to call Ms. Arthur again, to see if she would appear at a fundraiser we were holding for No On Six. Unbeknownst to me, she had undergone a face lift just weeks before, and as a result her face was still puffy and black and blue.

She still had bandages on her face, albeit small ones…and she appeared at our fundraiser.

She said it was more important than what she looked like.

That's the kind of person Bea Arthur was.


We Mourn Again: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick 1950 – 2009

Eve_Kosofsky_Sedgwick Is that a lovely face or what?…

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was an American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory (queer studies) and critical theory, which mainly means she was concerned with how many queer angels were dancing on the heads of academic pins. Influenced by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, feminism, psychoanalysis and deconstruction, her work reflected an abiding interest in a wide range of issues and topics including something called queer "performativity"…whatever the hell that is…and performance; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; artists' books; Buddhism and pedagogy. Academic polemic gobble-de-gook aside…she was a friend to the LGBTQ community.

Surprising to some, she was married for 40 years to her husband, Hal Sedgwick, a CUNY professor of visual perception (optometry), but apparently only saw him on weekends. She would also prefer it to be reported in that manner, i.e. she was married to a man, as opposed to assigning her the "straight" or "hetero/homo" categorizations (a too conveniently neat division rejected by Sedgwick.)

Sedgwick wasn’t a household name, unless you count the brouhaha over her 1989 essay Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl, which featured in many of the ritualistic first-kill-all-the-professors stories from our long culture war.

Sedgwick’s books, including Between Men and Epistemology of the Closet,” were on the shelves of most of the graduate students and comp-lit survivors, Gay and non-Gay, queer and non-queer, back in the 1990s. She virtually invented the field, or at least brought it to new heights. My personal favorite was an essay entitled How To Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys. If that was all she ever wrote she'd be worthy of laurels, from the aeries of the academe and the mundane streets alike.

Sedgwick’s radical challenge to heteronormative ways of reading and living may seem quaint (if that’s the word) in a time when people are celebrating same-sex weddings in Iowa and the White House Easter egg hunt conspicuously includes Gay and Lesbian families. Perhaps the misty future evoked in Pace University professor of English and women's studies, Karla Jay’s review of “Tendencies” — one where Sedgwick would be photographed shaving fellow queer-studies scholar Terry Castle on the cover of Time magazine, à la Cindy Crawford and K. D. Lang — isn’t quite here.

But alas, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, one of the foundational non-Gay allies, won't be around to see that future. She died April 12 of breast cancer. She was 58.

Our sincere condolences to her family and friends. In an age of anti-intellectualism and religious mythopoesis run amok, we need all the rational, intelligent voices we can find.

A Request: Meaningful Connection

We get letters…

Recently a woman in Wales wrote about her brother, a Gay man:

Bristol My brother M. has told me he is unhappy and lonely. He has told me he is weary of doing the rounds of the gay clubs (he's 48) and would like to connect with a community of  mature thoughtful gay men, with a view to a long term relationship. He has not been able to find such a group as yet. If you have any data on any groups in the Bristol (southwest Britain) or Birmingham (midlands Britain) area, it would be gratefully received.

We don't really do personals anymore (the magazine used to offer a free one with each new subscription). And, aside from the obvious observances about "looking for love in all the wrong places"…perhaps there is a reader out there that has some information I could pass along to this loving sister?

To my mind this is a question of community…how do we connect with one another? Which becomes even more difficult as we age (no matter one's sexuality). And so many Gay men "of a certain age" lost lifelong connections and friends pre-HAART HIV therapies. A generation of elders was wiped out. Every death of an elder is like a library burning…

This is not the first letter of this sort we received. Only recently a reader in Chicago wrote, asking if we Connections1 knew of any like-minded circles of Gay men. We have always encouraged the use of the magazine as a stimulus for face-to-face communities, the creation of circles of friends…Harry Hay's Circle of Loving Companions is our original model. And White Crane originated with a circle of Bob Barzan's friends in San Francisco, gathering at Bob's apartment to talk about everything under the sun (and share food!) How do we connect with one another?

How do we connect with one another in meaningful ways? Sex works very nicely when you're twenty…but what happens to Gay men's community when you reach 40…50…60…?

If you know of any groups of Gay men in southwest or the midlands region of Britain, please write me at

And more than that, if you have a similar interest in your area…rural or urban…will you let us know? We would like to help in creating those connections.