5 resources for learning about stonewall – the riots that launched the queer rights movement

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hey beloveds. i had a post all ready to go teaching allies how to push their workplaces to become trans and non-binary affirming, but in light of the rebellion against racist oppression and police brutality sweeping the country, it seemed like we should talk about stonewall.

the stonewall riots against police brutality in 1969 launched pride and the queer rights movement as we know it. the riots lasted for days and included property destruction on the behalf of rioters (good for them). trans women of color — particularly a black trans woman, marsha p. johnson — were absolutely central to the stonewall riots. they are the mothers of our movement.

with those pieces of context in place, i’m going to link you to a few resources for learning about the stonewall riots. there is so much for us to learn from stonewall and so much that we must learn from stonewall. for those of you to whom this will be new information, welcome to your legacy. let’s live into it.

the making gay history podcast features interviews with queer figures and activists who were on the front lines of history. the show’s fifth season is entirely about stonewall. you’ll hear from many people about their parts in the riots, but most meaningfully to me, you’ll hear from marsha p. johnson and sylveria rivera.

the queer as fact podcast features a team of historical researchers giving and discussing the biographies of queer people “across the world and throughout time.” they have a dedicated stonewall episode, where they lay out a timeline, addressing which particular events are likely to be legends and which are likely to have occurred, based on the accounts available. i’m fascinated by many of the events that we have accounts of but which we somehow rarely talk about.

in this podcasts, you’ll hear about rioters dancing in a chorus line at the cops. i think there’s so much to glean from that embodied joy in the middle of a fight for those folks’ very lives. we deserve joy and pleasure and need it as part of our movement. i believe these ancestors show us that.

you can also read an account sylvia rivera gave about her involvement in stonewall in this talk she gave in 2001. she pulls absolutely no punches in it. my admiration of her grew and grew as i read it.

the next two resources i haven’t been able to engage with yet, but i saw them recommended multiple times as i learned about stonewall, so i’ve included them here.

david carter is often credited with writing the definitive history of stonewall in his book stonewall: the riots that sparked the gay revolution.

martin duberman’s stonewall: the definitive story of the lgbtq rights uprising that changed america includes interviews with folks about their firsthand accounts of stonewall, including marsha p. johnson.

learning more about stonewall, especially firsthand from the mouths of people who were there, gave me a greater understanding of the importance of what those folks were doing and the way they were doing it. i think there’s a lot to be learned about violence (what oppression and its agents do to the oppressed) and force (what the oppressed use to fight back against oppression and its agents) and why the latter is necessary. i think there is much to be celebrated. i hope we can move forward in the now with all this learning and that we non-black folks –especially we white folks — can support black people in fighting for their safety and freedom and lives.

if you have other resources you recommend for learning about the stonewall riots, please tell us about them in the comments.

stay safe out there, y’all. ❤

(want to support this project? donate to reclaim the block or black visions collective.)

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