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Liberating the Schoolhouse

By Wellford Wilms
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Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Stinging Mad

Posted on Jun 27, 2011
Flickr / David CC-BY-NC-ND

By Larry Gross

(Page 2)

The GLF quickly grew and began to organize on several fronts. One of its first projects was to organize dances for young people as an alternative to the Mafia-controlled bars. But when they tried to advertise their dances in the Village Voice they were told that the word gay was obscene and could not be used in the ad. To make matters worse, the Voice, willing to use words like “faggots,” “dykes” and “queers” in its news articles on the Stonewall riots, also ran ads for apartments that specified “no gays.”

GLF members showed up outside the Voice, not far from the Stonewall bar, on Sept. 12, 1969, carrying picket signs denouncing the newspaper’s policies. After several hours some of the demonstrators were invited to meet with the publisher. The meeting was heated but the GLF was victorious. The Voice agreed to allow gay and homosexual to appear in ads without alterations. While not a total victory—the publisher reserved the right of his reporters to use derogatory language—this was a milestone of lesbian and gay media activism: It was a sign of the new militancy of a gay movement that was taking its demands directly to the media, making them targets of protest, along with politicians, psychiatrists and preachers.

On the first anniversary of Stonewall, the first gay pride march was held in New York City—such marches are now annual events in cities across the country and in many countries around the world—and The New York Times took notice.  The “quote of the day” was a statement by one of the organizers that summarized the core belief of gay liberation: “We’re probably the most harassed, persecuted minority group in history, but we’ll never have the freedom and civil rights we deserve as human beings unless we stop hiding in closets and in the shelter of anonymity.”

Larry Gross is the director of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, one of the founders of queer studies and a scholar of art, media, and the portrayal of minorities.


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By doublestandards/glasshouses, June 29, 2011 at 10:40 am Link to this comment
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In the 60’s people demanded; today they beg (weather permitting).

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By agnesinla, June 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment
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I am very glad for the human rights advancements that gays have gained. Keep fighting, because it is not enough. The day when a gay person can dream about their wedding day freely like any heterosexual, is the day when the struggle will be over. The travesty, that gays cannot have a civil ceremony like everyone else is unforgivable. We should all have the right to choose the one we love. Love is hard to find anywhere as it is.
Thank you for this article, I learned a lot about the historical struggle I wasn’t even aware of.

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By Arouete, June 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Gross: 

Thanks for the superb companion piece. I really enjoyed it.

Frankly, if today’s advocates and activists had the cajones of the Stonewall drag queens we might be a lot farther along than we are. See e.g., “Mr. President: Just say ‘No!’ to Gay Jim Crow.” at

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By amsron, June 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment
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Anyone know any writers on the “Madmen” staff?  This story could really affect some of their cast’s stories.

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