Dis-membering Stonewall: an excerpt from the forthcoming "Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of New York City"

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Dis-membering Stonewall: an excerpt from the forthcoming "Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of New York City"

kept them.

Nate, Sr., too, worried about his eldest son. When Birdie told his dad he was gay, his father asked him if he understood that he didn’t know how to keep him safe, especially if his son wandered out of his purview. Mr. Anderson took great pride in keeping his family together and safe, which is why he had hightailed it up North to Brooklyn, bringing his childhood sweetheart Cissy with him after he’d shot dead two of Herndon’s rapists—and turned Bo Milt, the third rapist, into a quadriplegic by repeatedly running him over with his truck while Bo Milt yelled, “Nigger, stop!”

NATE TURNER ANDERSON SR. WAS a race man: like the African prince High John the Conqueror, he was handsome, charming, beguiling, and not to be messed with. At six feet eight inches tall, Nate, Sr. was barrel-chested and a blue-black complexioned man of few words with a distinctive bass voice that commanded atten­tion. When his voice rose above Dupree’s and the crowd, we were as shocked to silence as we were by Cissy’s bloodcurdling scream.

“My son is somewhere there and I need you all to help me find him and bring him home safely to his mother and me.”

The charge to find Birdie trumped, for some, our rage to fight cops. Rechanneling our energy around Nate, Sr., groups of us hopped the IRT 7th Avenue subway line to the Village.

Coming out of the subway station at Christopher Street we could hear the commotion. The shoving and pushing by both protestors and police yanked three of us away from the core group; we were left to fend for ourselves. When we made our way into the crowd swarming the front of the Stonewall Inn, we too threw bottles, gar­bage, and anything we could get our hands on. In the midst of the riot I realized the moment looked and felt similar to the Martin Luther King riot. But this time I knew who the LGBTQ folks fight­ing along with us were.

 

AS THE MOMENTUM OF THE crowd pushed my small group to Waverly Place, a block away from the Stonewall, we witnessed two white cops pummeling a Black drag queen. “I should shove this stick up your ass,” said one of the cops as he pulled up her dress with a nightstick in his hand. The taller of the two cops yanked off