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I remember a fine June breeze swishing its way up Christopher Street from the river and the sweet aroma from the joint in my hand as I sat on a stoop up the block with some friends, the night New York’s finest raided the Stonewall Inn (“Stonewall bar riot was clarion call for change,” Monday). The Stonewall had been there for years. A pub, it is said, built before the American Revolution of the granite blocks from which it took its name. In my time it had been the best speakeasy dance bar in the West Village. By that June night in 1969, its faddish heyday had passed and it had become the party bar for drag and its fans. It was run, as were all the queer bars in New York City at that time, by the mob and its minions.
Remember, in those days, it was almost illegal to be queer, to congregate, to drink together, much less dance. We paid the mob in our private clubs and they paid the cops so we would be left alone. And that’s why that night, as I sat with my friends blowing a joint up the block, the cops raided the Stonewall. They raided it over a “bump in the pad,” an increase in their bribe. The Stonewall wouldn’t pay, so it got raided. (One of New York’s dirty little secrets.)
Go read the rest of this brilliantly written letter to the editor sent to commemorate this anniversary. Open it in a new tab while you listen to Judy singing the song he refers to in the letter to set the mood.