Let’s first start with:
What is Stonewall?
Something googleable for all.
For ALL.
Not just the L the G the B the T the Q the I or the A
But for ALL to google and learn.
Perhaps that’s what we ask –
For everyone to understand that there was once a time when same sex relations was illegal in
New York City. In fact it’s only been legal since 1980 (but we all know it’s been around since
dinosaurs and Jesus).
I can’t imagine.
In New York City.
A time when
You couldn’t hold the hand of someone you love after a night out
A time when
You couldn’t cry and be consoled by the person you love after a shitty day at work
A time when
You couldn’t wear the skirt that showed off your legs – you missed a spot when shaving – but no
matter – because your lashes look great.
A time when
You couldn’t dance and laugh and accidentally spill your drink on the person you’ve been flirting
with all night
A time when
Pleasure and desire
In jail, body beaten, fear and shame.
No authentic joy
Out in public
In New York City
Can you imagine
The culture that taught you how to flirt on the dance floor
For all the times you made out with someone on the dance floor
You can thank them for teaching you how it’s done.
On the day of the Stonewall Riots – it was any day at Stonewall –
The safe space of bras worn over flat chests
I hope by now you are googling Marsha P. Johnson
The mayor of Christopher Street.
I walk on Christopher Street every week.
I didn’t learn about Marsha P. Johnson until I was in my twenties. When a friend was wearing a
hat that said “Pay It No Mind”
Marsha P. Johnson didn’t make it into my history class growing up.
People can google Marsha P. Johnson too.
That’s what the smart phone gave us access to.
Google. Anytime. Anywhere.
We can type her name.
And understand who she was and how she lived her life to make the world a more beautiful
Marsha P. Johnson.
I write all this as I sit by my father’s bedside.
I write all this as a Korean-American whose parents migrated to the states in 1980.
I write all this knowing that the gift I can offer is this information and the enthusiasm for this
information that is missing from our text books.
I write all this knowing that the liberation movement for gay, queer, and trans joy is a google
search away and it’s simply a matter of caring enough to understand what Stonewall is about.
People have bled for our freedom.
For our desire.
I can sit by father’s bedside and tell him about Marsha P. Johnson.
I can talk about my nights out as my father talks about his.
And know they are very different from one another.
He can teach me about the Korean War.
I can teach him about Stonewall.
And it’s the gift we give each other.