Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Lea DeLaria on Stonewall 50: ‘Change Comes From Perseverance, Dedication, and Balls. The Fight Continues.’

The Daily Beast

June 24, 2019

The actor and comedian says: ‘I would like a queer scientist to discover a longevity serum which would allow me to live to watch what we will accomplish in the next half-century.’

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

I was a young child when the riot at Stonewall blazed on the evening news replacing the then-unending coverage of the Vietnam War. I was glued to our black-and-white TV, my 11-year-old mind whirling.

This was far from the first riot I had seen televised in recent years: Detroit, East St. Louis, Philadelphia, Atlanta, now NYC. I honestly do not remember if I was aware of the “gay” difference between the Stonewall Riots and the others. I do know I thought something was terribly wrong with the government in my country.

What is their significance for you?

Whenever disenfranchised individuals display defiance in the face of blatant oppression, it is significant. For me personally, Stonewall began and shaped the radical queer politics by which I live my life.

How far have we LGBT people come since 1969?

When I came out in 1974 it was illegal to be gay in every state of the Union. In 2019 we can get married if we want—for now. Change comes from perseverance, dedication, and balls. No matter how far we have come, the fight continues, and right now there is an orange shit stain that needs a Tide Stick.

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

I would like it if a queer scientist discovered a longevity serum which would allow me to live to watch what we will accomplish in the next half-century… and of course continue to eat poonanny.