June 3rd, 2009

new york


Hard to believe, I know, but sometimes I actually socialize with people not on LJ. Sunday I was invited over to my friends Kaz and George’s for a dinner party. It was a beautiful day so it was held up on the rooftop of their duplex penthouse apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Drenched in sky and sun and surrounded by the muscular buildings of west midtown, and drinking lots of good wine, I felt very much the sophisticated Manhattanite, right out of a New Yorker cover.

Mike, another of the guests, prepared homemade empanadas, a roast shoulder of pork, homemade and freshly-baked challah bread, and salad. I brought a dessert, a commercial lemon cake gussied up with lots of fresh raspberries in a sauce made from melted raspberry sorbet. It couldn’t have been simpler, or more delicious. The lemon cake had a bright intense flavor and was made with lots of the fruit’s zest, giving it a nice bitter edge that complemented the intenseness of the raspberries and the sweetness of the sauce, and it all went down well with the red wine we were drinking.

The spirited conversation was stimulating in more ways than one (if you catch my drift), as might be expected when six very kinky gay men get together. Although Kaz and George are from Seattle and San Francisco and I was only introduced to them last year by bikerbearmark (see, there is an LJ connection!), it was surprising how many people we mutually knew and experiences we had in common – Lurch, Roger/qnetter, Delta runs, to name just a few. Kaz had called me the day before while I was brunching with Mike/chef2b from Palm Springs, and he and Mike knew each other, too!

I didn’t bring my camera, for once, knowing I’d be outclassed by Kaz, but as the sun went down and the lights started coming up on the skyline of the Times Square skyscrapers to the east of us against the deep blue sky, I couldn’t resist pulling out my sad little cameraphone to take a shot. It does not do justice to the sights, sensations, laughter, and memory of that lovely evening, thus my post here.

gay vigilante

On the Occasion of the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall

One of the many blogs at The New York Times recently “printed” some photographs unearthed from their archives taken on the last night of the “Stonewall Riots,” which occurred over six nights, not just one.

The photos from the sixth night of the “riots” are pretty lackluster, as was the “Newspaper of Record”’s original coverage of the entire disturbance. Even the riots weren’t as dramatic as those where a lot of things burn and people get hurt (Watts, White Night). It was mostly people convening, confused and angry, shouting, a few hotheads throwing things, and some overly aggressive and badly managed policemen who felt they had to prove something roughing up and arresting citizens. Yet the news that spread about fags and dykes and queens standing up for themselves, tired of the regular raids by the police on their gathering places, inspired gay men and women across the country, making Stonewall one of the major touchstones of the modern gay rights struggle.

In the comments a few people took the Times to task for choosing not to print the photos back when, and letting them remained buried in their archives for so long.

I did too, linking it to a previous piece I wrote about the Times’ homophobic reporting and policies:
I’m not surprised the images went unpublished, considered not newsworthy, and remained for all intents “lost” for nearly 40 years. The institutionalized homophobia of The New York Times contributed in no small part to the oppression of gays and lesbians in NYC and beyond for many, many years. I did a casual analysis of their gay coverage a while back — from sodomite to homosexual to sexual invert to pervert to deviant to, finally, gay:

Their comments are vetted, and to their credit, they posted it. In the blog post, they chose not to speculate on the deep-sixing of the photographs themselves – and reading between the lines, it’s also evident that the Times didn’t get around to thinking that this multi-night disturbance by a bunch of deviants was newsworthy enough to send a photographer down to until its sixth night. But their account of how the photographs were finally unearthed is well detailed.

The photographs were only unearthed because a gay researcher found references to the images which had been scanned into and included in a commercial photo archive the Times had contracted with. For money. And you can bet good money that the author of the definitive study of Stonewall, David Carter, mentioned in the article is also gay. I’m making assumptions about both of these people, but really, think about the gay history and gay studies books you’ve read – how many do you think were written by straight people?

History belongs to those who write the stories. Our online journals and blogs, no matter how modest, have dramatically shifted the models and dynamics of reporting, authoritativeness, and documentation. There certainly is a lot of chaff, but your stories, the accounts of your coming out, your anger, your protests, your rock-throwing, your memories, your touchstones – these are the real history.