Friday, August 11, 2006

Stonewall Veteran

I have been spending a lot of time on Cape Cod recently. Half of my time there has been vacationing in Provincetown. The other half of my time has been spent organizing in the 1st Barnstable district, which consists of Brewster, Dennis, and Yarmouth.

The current freshman legislator in the district, Cleon Turner, is running for re-election. Turner has been a good friend of the gay community since elected two years ago. His republican challenger, Dick Neitz, is the same guy who ran against him two years ago. Neitz is a strong opponent of marriage equality and LGBT rights. He has actually compared gays and lesbians to animals.

This district is extremely conservative. Representative Turner won by only 400 votes in the last election. I have been spending a lot of my time making sure that he gets re-elected.

One of the people on the cape who I had the pleasure of meeting is David Bermudez. David is a Stonewall Veteran. He was there the night the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. David was part of the rebellion that started the gay movement. He is one of about 30 Stonewall Veterans that are still living today. I had a chance to hear about the night of the raid and the following events.

David told me that on the night of June 27th, 1969 he was mourning the death of the gay icon Judy Garland. She was being buried that night and everyone was feeling down. David was out with his friends and decided to go to their usually hangout, the Stonewall Inn. He said that the Stonewall was raided by police on a regular basis.

David showed up at Stonewall around 12:30 in the morning. No one had any idea what was about to happen. An hour later David was standing near the rear of the bar. He noticed smoke near the entrance. At first he thought there was a fire. He told his friends that they had better get out of the bar.

The next thing he knew he was being hit and starting punching back. David explained to me that when the police raided the bar, as they had done so many times before, they started to rough up some of the guys. He said that the drag queens started pushing the cops back. This started the fight. People who usually would not fight back were so upset over the death of Judy Garland that they decided they were not going to take it anymore.

David started to make his way to the front of the bar. He realized that the smoke was not from a fire, it was tear gas used by the police. He was being hit by police and had to punch his way out the door. Once he made it outside, he met his friends at the park across the street. They watched as the police patty wagons pulled up. The police started hauling people away. The rebellion continued for the next few days.
There are no pictures from the five days of the rebellion because the media completely ignored the entire event. There have been a couple of documentaries made about Stonewall. There was even a movie, titled Stonewall, made in 1995 based on the actual events. The film is excellent.

Today David lives with his husband Bob on Cape Cod. David and Bob have been together for over thirty years. They were legally married in 2004. Both David and Bob are very involved in politics to this day.

David is a member of the Stonewall Veterans Association. He and his partner marched at the front of New York City's gay pride parade last year as the first Stonewall Veteran to legally marry. It was an honor to meet them both.


At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Mark D. Snyder said...

nice post!

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great story. Thanks Chriss

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Sarah Twomey-Mercurio said...

I heart Cleon!


Post a Comment

<< Home