By Arturo R. García
Over the past month, this video, “It Did Not Start With Stonewall,” has been picking up steam online – we first saw it on Elixher – which is curious, given that it was originally uploaded in 2007. In the clip, a group of black women offers perspectives on life in the LGBT community in New York City in the era surrounding the seminal Stonewall Rebellion of 1969.
But it cuts off just after the three-minute mark, leaving people wondering where it came from – and whether there are more interviews like these out there. Racialicious contacted the person who uploaded the video Wednesday night, so we hope to have an update soon. In the meantime, the transcript to the video is under the cut.
We paid an awful lot of dues so that the younger people of today can feel the freedom to walk along holding hands. It did not start with Stonewall.
They used to have something in Harlem called Funmaker’s Ball, and they would do that every Thanksgiving. And we would go to the Funmaker’s Ball, and that’s really when the cops would be nasty,’cause the gay guys would come and dress up like women, and people would come in and enjoy themselves, and they’d stand outside and get the guys as they came out,
and the women sometimes, and arrest them.
When we were younger, uh, because we did not have any role models, uh, roles were defined, people were into playing roles,
and people dressed and acted out whatever role that they, found, that they were suited for. And it was a law at that time
that you had to wear 3 pieces of female clothing, or else they would uh take you to jail for impersonation.
During this time of Stonewall, I was not living in New York at the time. And, so I missed that. But I had been involved in many raids and harassment by the police in my own community. We had a very viable black lesbian and gay community
in different, not only in Harlem, but in Brooklyn, and in The Bronx, and I can’t say too much for Queens and Staten Island
because they’re a foreign country.
And what happened was, that the bars downtown weren’t making money. And someone discovered that there was a lot of money being spent in Harlem. And in other black communities. And they systematically either burnt them down, closed them down or they started having a lot of problems with police, for different violations and stuff and things like that.
And as bar after bar and club after club closed down, clubs in The Village that years prior did not welcome the citizens of these neighborhoods – Bed-Stuy, and South Bronx, and Jamaica and Harlem – they let you in and took your money, but they still did not treat you any better. Until the current lesbian and gay community acknowledges that there were contributions made by other lesbians and gay men of all colors, to the freedom of lesbians and gays prior to Stonewall, there will always be some…[cuts off]