Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Armistead Maupin: ‘When Stonewall Happened, I Was Smoking My First Dick, So I Was a Little Distracted’

The Daily Beast

June 5, 2019

Maupin hopes that all the major religions of the world ‘will finally lose their grip on the groins of their followers and begin preaching decency and human kindness.’

Armistead Maupin is author of Tales of the City and co-executive producer of the new Netflix series based on the books, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, which premieres June 7.

How and when did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of them?

“When” Stonewall “happened” I was smoking my first dick in a park in Charleston, South Carolina, so I was a little distracted. I didn’t get political until the San Francisco Pride parades in the ’70s, where Stonewall was celebrated and, yes, rapidly mythologized.

My favorite detail came from my friend (the historian) Vito Russo, who told me that the angry queens at Stonewall were already mourning the death of Judy Garland. So, in that defining moment, art and resistance had merged in a way that would forever color our movement.

What is the riots’ significance for you?

Stonewall (and the little known Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in San Francisco three years earlier) are important to me simply because they signaled a moment when we refused to take their shit anymore. We’ve had to do that many times over the years (Anita Bryant was the moment for me) and we will no doubt have to do it again before long.

How far have we come as LGBT people in the last 50 years?

We’ve come a long way from the days of the great Triple Whammy, when our right to love was simultaneously a sin, a crime, and a mental disorder. But the battle shouldn’t end with equal marriage. If you believe, as I do, that we’re a global tribe, we’ve got to do all we can to support liberation everywhere.

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

What I hope for the future is that all that major religions of the world (the chief promulgators of homophobia, after all) will finally lose their grip on the groins of their followers and begin preaching decency and human kindness. Fat chance, I know, but a boy can dream.