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Monday, June 8, 2015

NY Times runs Stonewall Rebellion Veterans Association story

Williamson L. Henderson, director of the Stonewall Rebellion Veterans Association. Credit Emon Hassan for The New York Times

PHOTO: Williamson L. Henderson, director of the STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans' Association is shown leaning on his iconic 1969 Cadillac with New York vanity license plate number "STONEWAL" that has been used in gay pride parades to remember the Stonewall riot that helped to spark the gay rights revolution in America. (See story by Corey Kilgannon, "A Defender of Stonewall, and Himself," New York Times Sunday, Jun. 7, 2015, Page MB4, posted Jun. 5, 2015 - Photo Credit Emon Hassan for The New York Times) In connection with the feature article, also filmed was a video of Henderson telling about the history of the famous 1969 Cadillac convertible -- also known as the "Stonewall Car". (See video: Corey Kilgallon, "SW-Car," last viewed Jun. 8, 2015) UPDATE 6/18/15: The N.Y. Times only quickly mentioned those who question the truth of Henderson's story, but the full details can be found in an article by: Duncan Osborne, "Williamson Henderson's Persistent Luck in Selling a Stonewall Tale," Gay City News, posted Jun. 11, 2015, which says, "Henderson has no arrest record from 1969 nor does his name appear in the criminal court docket books from late June 1969. Henderson, now 70, also claims his 1969 Cadillac was impounded by police that night. . . . Other records disprove his story. In 2009, historians David Carter and Jonathan Ned Katz, the founder in 2008 and now a co-director of, an LGBT history site, obtained the police records of the riots. Henderson's name is nowhere mentioned in those records nor do they refer to a Cadillac being towed from the scene. . . "

In preparation for the upcoming gay rights marriage decision by the U.S. Supreme Court and the annual June gay pride celebrations across America to celebrate the memory of the Stonewall riot that is popularly credited as the spark that set off gay liberation in America, the N.Y. Times has been printing a series of excellent articles, some of which I have blogged on before. See previous posts Baker marriage hits N.Y. Times front page only 4 decades late (5/17/15) and University of Minnesota Press book by gay marriage pioneers Jack Baker and Michael McConnell (6/2/).

The latest story by Corey Kilgannon, "A Defender of Stonewall, and Himself," New York Times Sunday, Jun. 7, 2015, Page MB4, posted Jun. 5, 2015 says, Williamson born in Brooklyn and raised in Long Island, formed the original Stonewall Club, the milestone year 1969, Judy Garland's funeral in Manhattan, the N.Y.C. Stonewall Rebellion. The story does a good job capturing the New York City cultural ambiance of the early Stonewall era pioneers -- although I am not from New York City, my aunt lived in downtown Manhattan, NYC and during my frequent visits to her small studio apartment in a high rise before the Stonewall riot, I learned how culturally different NYC was from the suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota environment where I grew up after a few years of living in Louisiana where I experienced firsthand the racially segregated southern United Sates. I first learned about Stonewall riot from reading the Village Voice newspaper that my mother subscribed to via U.S. Mail because she wanted to keep up with leading edge culture, such as "hippie" and "beatnik" thinking. (Recall there was no Internet back then and the words of countercultural movements were slow to spread to the hinterlands across America.) The only place I knew to buy the Village Voice newspaper in Minneapolis was at a few large newsstands in downtown Minneapolis and a bookstore near the University of Minnesota Campus that catered to university students and intellectuals. Ironically, during the 1960's, the Village Voice suffered from the same homophobia as did the rest of America, but its free-spirited thinking let many revolutionary ideas bleed through, such as the idea of gay rights and alternate gender roles that were championed by women's liberation groups.

Below is a photo from the 2004 gay pride parade in New York City that honored a few of the early gay rights pioneers:

Frank Kameny, Jack Nichols and George Weinberg riding on Heritage of Pride float

PHOTO: (left to right) Dr. Frank Kameny, Jack Nichols, and Dr. George Weinberg being honored as Grand Marshalls of New York City's 2004 Heritage of Pride Parade. (See previous post Jack Nichols biography with blurb of my book review (2/17/13)

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