[Photo: Sylvia Rivera, Stonewall rioter]

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Remembering Stonewall
Premiered July 1, 1989, on Weekend All Things Considered.

On Friday, June 27, 1969, eight officers from the public morals section of the first division New York City Police Department pulled up in front of the Stonewall Inn, one of the city's largest and most popular gay bars.

At the time, the vice squad routinely raided gay bars. Patrons always complied with the police, frightened by the prospect of being identified in the newspaper. But this particular Friday night was different. It sparked a revolution, and a hidden subculture was transformed into a vibrant political movement. What began with a drag queen clobbering her arresting officer soon escalated into a full-fledged riot, and modern gay activism was born.

This documentary, broadcast on the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, is the first documentary -- in any medium -- about the riots. It weaves together the perspectives of the participants, from Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, who marshaled the raid, to Sylvia Rivera, one of the drag queens who battled most fiercely that night. The revolutionary impact of the riot is better understood by looking at life for gay men and lesbians in the era before Stonewall, seen through the eyes of people like Bruce Merrow and Geanne Harwood, a gay couple who have been together for 60 years, and Jheri Faire, an 80-year-old lesbian. Remembering Stonewall also examines how Stonewall affected gay politics through the voices of people like Randy Wicker, the first openly gay person to appear on television and radio; Joan Nestle, founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives; and yippie leader Jim Fouratt, who helped found the Gay Liberation Front on the third night of the Stonewall Riots.

Producer: David Isay with Michael Scherker / Editor: Amy Goodman / Mix engineer: Spider Ryder at WNYC / Funding provided by the Pacifica National Program Fund. Photograph by Harvey Wang.


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This piece is available in the following audio formats [23:03 min]:



Holding On, a book with an oral history based on this documentary

Update from Sylvia Rivera, a drag queen featured in this documentary [posted 7/5/01]

"Acting Up", a short radio piece by an AIDS activist

Photographs of Sylvia Rivera's funeral march, from the Web site Queen Mother

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