Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Sandra Bernhard on Stonewall 50: ‘The gay community should help lift all other marginalized people up’

The Daily Beast

June 14, 2019

Sandra Bernhard tells Tim Teeman: ‘Stonewall made room for me to follow my desires, without the fear and self-loathing so many people had to experience before the revolution.’

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

It was many years after the fact that I became aware of Stonewall. I was quite young when it all occurred, but like any great historical event it resonated with me on a few levels; that is it signaled a change in culture, the bravery and willingness to put everything on the line. The effect it had on how the gay community—from hidden and weak to emboldened and fierce—was a watershed moment that indicated we would never go back again.

What is their significance for you?

As a woman and someone who was exploring her sexuality it made room for me to follow my desires without the fear and self-loathing so many people had to experience before the revolution.

How far have LGBT people come since 1969?

The gay community is unrecognizable from where it came from at that time. Perhaps more than any other marginalized group, we have become much more part of the mainstream, which is reflected in marriage equality, the ability to have families, and be accepted in the workplace in a nonchalant way.

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

That not only the gay community continues to evolve, but that we reach out to all other marginalized people and help lift them up; that we never forget our struggle and in turn make it easier for others to achieve our status. I think that’s essential.