Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Michael Musto on Stonewall 50: ‘We May Not Throw Bricks Anymore, but We Kick Ass With Our Words and Actions’

Website:
The Daily Beast

Date:
June 8, 2019

‘We have come light years from the time when gay was considered a mental illness, when bars were continually raided and you could be arrested for being queer.’

Michael Musto, weekly columnist for NewNowNext.com

When/how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of them?

I had vaguely heard of the Stonewall Riots when I was running around nightclubs in the 1970s, but I was too callow to care that much. Later on, I researched it and realized what a momentous event this had been for the modern queer movement, and now I reference it all the time and instruct millennials about it whenever I can. I went from not caring to forcing others to care.

What is their significance for you?

The significance of Stonewall is that it marked a turn in the way we queers thought of ourselves and our oppressors. (Similar uprisings had happened before this, but Stonewall was the biggie, the one that hit like a lightning bolt.) We weren’t going to take shit anymore, and as a result, the community mobilized, the parade started, and we kept marching more and more into visibility and pride. We may not throw beer bottles or bricks anymore, but we kick ass with our words and actions.

How far have LGBT people come since 1969?

We have come light years from the time when gay was considered a mental illness, when bars were continually raided and you could be arrested for being queer. LGBTQ is everywhere, having long crawled out from the shadows society forced us into. Of course, Trump is threatening to turn it all back again and bring us back to the 1950s, but we’ve come too far to sit still for that kind of crap.

What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?

I’d like to see same-sex marriage protected, not repealed by accused sex offenders like Brett Kavanaugh. If we want to keep America safe (and equitable), trans people must be put back in the military. We need LGBTQ protections in all states regarding school, work and residence.

And we need to stop allowing people to cherry-pick from the Bible the alleged fact that it’s God’s wish to destroy queers. If these people really read the Bible, they would not be supporting Trump, who’s broken more than half of the Ten Commandments.