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Stonewall
Cover of Stonewall
Stonewall
Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
That’s the Stonewall.
The Stonewall Inn.
Pay attention.
History walks through that door.

In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. It meant living a closeted life or surviving on the fringes of society. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. Most doctors considered homosexuality a mental illness. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was one of them.

Police raids on gay bars happened regularly in this era. But one hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. Anger and frustration boiled over.

The raid became a riot.

The riot became a catalyst.

The catalyst triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.

Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.
That’s the Stonewall.
The Stonewall Inn.
Pay attention.
History walks through that door.

In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. It meant living a closeted life or surviving on the fringes of society. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. Most doctors considered homosexuality a mental illness. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was one of them.

Police raids on gay bars happened regularly in this era. But one hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. Anger and frustration boiled over.

The raid became a riot.

The riot became a catalyst.

The catalyst triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.

Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    8.0
  • Lexile:
    1180
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    6

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Cover: Marty Robinson (left) addresses a rally commemorating the Stonewall riots, July 27, 1969. “We’ve got to stand up,” he urged. “This is our chance.”

    Members of the Gay Activists Alliance help form a human chain across the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey to demonstrate their support for gay rights, May 6, 1973.

    East Village rambler, New York City, November 12, 1967.

    The façade of the Stonewall Inn (still marked by the graffiti of recent events), September 1969. Unrest three months earlier converted this spot in Greenwich Village into ground zero for gay rights history.

    “The door of the Stonewall had wrought-iron bars across this little peephole, a little wooden thing that slid open. And the man inside would look at you and, if you looked like you belonged there, would let you in.”

    —CHRIS BABICK,
    describing the entrance to the Stonewall Inn

    FOR STARTERS, THERE WAS A FULL MOON. AND IT WAS beastly hot. Plus it was Friday night in New York City. A party night. A night to hit the bars, dance, and hang out with friends, even if the friends were gay. Especially if the friends were gay.

    In the summer of 1969, the Stonewall Inn served as a space for gays to meet, dance together, and express their physical attractions. It provided a showplace for cross-dressers to camp it up in their finery. It was a spot to hang out with other people who understood what it felt like to be gay on the cutting edge of changing times.

    On the street gays kept alert, wary of police officers in uniform and mindful that the next attractive stranger posing as a homosexual might in fact be an imposter packing a police badge. Every state except Illinois carried sodomy laws that prohibited nonvaginal sexual intercourse, chiefly directed at gay men. People caught defying these laws—especially in public but even at home—could expect to land in jail and receive verbal abuse, or worse, on the way.

    In the workplace gays lived on edge, too. With the exception of a few careers, such as theater work, most gays had to mask their sexual identities or risk being fired. It was perfectly legal to dismiss someone from a job because of perceived sexual deviance, and then homosexuality topped the list of so-called abnormal behavior. Federal employees, including armed service members, faced automatic discharge if they failed to conceal their sexual orientations. Prospects for employment elsewhere, and even for finding housing, became grim. “Why they don’t just round us all up and kill us I don’t know,” lamented one discredited military veteran.

    At home gays might not find much refuge, either. Most young gay men and lesbians felt compelled to live with the secret of being different. Perhaps they faced rejection, even being disowned, for admitting their attraction to same-sex partners. These youths often left home, either by choice or by order of disapproving parents, and they headed to urban centers in search of companionship and a hint of tolerance. Older gay men and lesbians might marry people of the opposite gender, either in an attempt to combat their same-sex urges or because they sought the legitimizing shelter of marriage, but peace of mind could rarely be found in such relationships.

    Whether on the street, at work, or at home, gays confronted the reality that acting on their sexual orientations constituted illegal behavior. Any portrayal of homosexuality in the media tended to reinforce these negative stereotypes. After all, such actions ran counter...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 30, 2015
    Bausum (Stubby the War Dog) offers a powerful and moving account of the pivotal Stonewall riots of 1969 and the struggle for gay rights in the U.S. The riots occurred after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a grungy, mafia-run gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. “The tension of that night and countless previous nights and hundreds of lifetimes of abuse burst the dams of person after person. The crowd became a mob, and the mob began to riot.” Bausum’s conversational storytelling whisks readers back to an era when homosexuality was criminalized; after a brief introduction to the night of the raid (“For starters, there was a full moon. And it was beastly hot”), the narrative backtracks a decade to set the context for the violent demonstrations that ensued. A fast-paced accounting reveals how the first riot unfolded, both inside and outside the bar. Final chapters bring the battle for gay civil rights up to the present, with particular attention paid to the AIDS epidemic, pride parades, and the fight for marriage equality. Archival photos, source notes, and a bibliography are included. Ages 12–up. (May)

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2015
    Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community's symbol of freedom. June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York's West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York's Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn't bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress. Enlightening, inspiring, and moving. (Nonfiction. 13-16)

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-This powerful, well-researched work examines the Stonewall riots, which took place in 1969 in New York City when members of the gay community fought back in response to a police raid on a gay bar. Bausum describes the restrictive lives that many gays and lesbians led in the 1960s and the relief-and risks-of meeting at gay bars. On June 28, 1969, when police arrived at the Stonewall Inn to make arrests, people-transvestites, drag queens, lesbians, and gay men-fought back, instead of filing quietly into police wagons. Quoting from a variety of firsthand sources (journalists, bar patrons, cops, and others), Bausum paints a vivid picture of the three nights of rioting that became the focal point for activists, some of whom had been fighting for gay and lesbian rights in a quieter way and others who found themselves suddenly drawn to the struggle. A month later, a large group of protestors rallied to speak out in Washington Square Park and marched down Christopher Street to the Stonewall Inn in what became the nation's first gay pride march. In the following chapters, Bausum describes the growth of gay and lesbian activism, setbacks, the impact of HIV/AIDS, and issues such as gays in the military and same-sex marriage, bringing readers to the present day and expertly putting these struggles into historical context. VERDICT An essential purchase.-Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2015
    Grades 9-12 It started with a thump on the door of The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. It was in the early hours of June 28, 1969, and the thump announced a police raid, whichas Bausum dramatically demonstratesturned from raid to riot as the customers of the bar resisted the officers, fomenting an incident that helped launch the gay rights movement. Though it focuses on Stonewall, Bausum's book also offers a contextual look at the conditions of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender in pre-Stonewall America; the Inn's Mafia ties that triggered the raid; and the sometimes uneasy progress of gay rights since that day, including the setback engendered by the AIDS epidemic of the '80s. Though comprising little more than a hundred pages of text, the book is comprehensive in its coverage, filled with important information, and compassionate in its tone. It sheds welcome light on a subject that deserves greater coverage in YA literature.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
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