40 things you don't know about Gay Pride
It's the 40th anniversary of Stonewall! To celebrate, we've got more queer factoids than you can shake a rainbow flag at.
Thu Jun 25 2009
22 The gay rainbow flag was created in 1978 by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker, who sewed and dyed the material for the first one himself.
23 The Stonewall riots occurred in 1969 and the annual Pride March began after that, so it would seem that this year's should be the 39th annual Gay Pride March, not the 40th.
24 So why is it the 40th? Because the very first march actually took place on the one-month anniversary of Stonewall, in July, moving from Washington Square to the Stonewall Inn.
25 Christopher Street Liberation Day had 2,000 participants in 1970.
26 Christopher Street Liberation Day actually marched up Sixth Avenue, from Sheridan Square to Central Park, and concluded with a "Gay-In" in Sheep Meadow.
27 The march reversed directions, starting uptown and moving down, in the early 1970s, due to the efforts of Stonewall manager Ed Murphy, who wanted to bring more business to the Village's bars.
28 The Stonewall Inn's first incarnation was as a tearoom that was popular with lesbians.
29 That tearoom was called Bonnie's Stone Wall, named after an anonymous 1930 lesbian memoir, These Stone Walls.
30 Bonnie's Stone Wall then became a straight bar before a fire in the 1960s left it sitting empty for several years.
31 The bar was reopened by the Mafia in 1967, this time as a gay watering hole.
32 That gay bar comprised not only the current Stonewall Inn space, but also what is now the nail salon next door.
33 The Mafia had an office upstairs at the Stonewall Inn, and from it the organization ran a prostitution ring that it used to ensnare and then blackmail bar patrons.
34 The famous riots began after the Stonewall Inn was raided on June 28, 1969—for the second time in a week—for operating without a liquor license, and the attending officers harassed many of the patrons.
35 Violence erupted after the bar customers poured out onto the street; a cop shoved a drag queen, the queen hit the cop over the head with her purse, the cop clubbed her, and the crowd went wild with anger.
36 The riots lasted for six days, with days one, two and six being the most violent.
37 That violence was partially a reaction to the tone of reportage by The Village Voice, which used phrases like "limp wrists" and "Sunday fag follies."
38 The Village Voice was, at that time, housed a few doors down from the Stonewall in what is now the Duplex. An angry mob came close to burning it down during the riots.
39 When the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee disbanded in 1984, Heritage of Pride (HOP) formed and took over operating the annual Gay Pride March.
40 Contrary to popular myth, there is no evidence that grief over the death of Judy Garland, on June 22, 1969, had anything at all to do with the riots. "The Stonewall boys and girls could care less about Judy Garland," recalls writer and early gay activist Perry Brass. "They were into Diana Ross, Motown and radical street politics."
The NYC Pride March is Sun 28.