Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Pre-order Book!
Pre-order Book!
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Stonewall bartender headlines Legacy Project event at Sidetrack
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2019-06-07

This article shared 2547 times since Fri Jun 7, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The Legacy Project kicked off Pride month with a talk featuring Stonewall Inn bartender Tree Sequoia and LGBTQ historian and Legacy Project co-founder Owen Keehnen on June 5 at Sidetrack. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

On June 28, 1969, Tree ( he prefers that people use his first name only ) was scheduled to be interviewed for a bartending job at the Stonewall Inn, located on Christopher Street in New York City; while he was there for the interview, the Stonewall Riots began. What many may not know is that it took decades for Tree to start that job because the Stonewall Inn was shut down after the riot and did not reopen until the mid-'90s. ( While the Stonewall Inn was not in operation, Tree worked at the nearby 9th Circle and the Julius bars. )

Sidetrack General Manager Brad Balof told the packed house, "Fifty years ago, it would have been illegal for this many homosexuals to gather in the same place," adding that this year's Pride motto for the bar is "Sidetrack Celebrates."

Legacy Project Co-Founder/Executive Director Victor Salvo spoke about the need to bring LGBTQ history to the forefront because it has been redacted from textbooks and school curriculums. Salvo explained that, along with the Legacy Walk, Legacy Wall and website, he recently attended the first meeting to discuss the new LGBTQ-inclusive middle and high school curriculum that will begin across Illinois in 2020. He also teased the Legacy Project's upcoming music-focused event on Saturday, June 29, at Sidetrack.

Keehnen asked Tree ( who grew up in Brooklyn ) about his first introduction to Greenwich Village. Tree said when he arrived in Greenwich Village, the first place he went was Mama's Chicken and Ribs—where he encountered a gathering of gay men for the first time in his life. He explained that going to this restaurant and then the Stonewall Inn ( which the mafia owned ) to dance was the way he spent many weekends.

The conversation turned to the rules gay people had to follow when they were out at the bars so they could order drinks since they were not supposed to be served alcohol in public. Tree said the police would monitor the bars in Greenwich Village and raid them when the bar owners had not paid them off in a while. He explained that this is how he ended up being arrested more than a dozen times—but it would only be for a night because the mafia would pay everyone's $20 fine so they could return to the bar the next night.

Tree said he met Sylvia Rivera, who was then known as a drag queen, and Marsha P. Johnson, whom everyone identified as a street kid, before the Stonewall Riots. Johnson was let into the Stonewall Inn when the weather was bad, even though she had no money, Tree said, adding that the riots raged all night, with Johnson showing up until around 2 a.m.

Keehnen asked Tree about the first night of the riots, including the scene inside the Stonewall Inn.

Tree said it was painted black—including the windows and doors—so no one could see inside the bar, among other details. He said while he was dancing with some other patrons they heard screams, and that was when he knew something was wrong. He explained that this raid was different because it was the vice squad, not the regular police officers, and they pushed Storme DeLarverie—a butch lesbian who died in 2014—against the wall. DeLarverie, according to Tree, started beating the vice officers up, which was how the riots started.

Continuing, Tree said a neighborhood police officer got him and four other people away from Stonewall so they would not be arrested. When Tree got safely outside, he and others helped break the lock on one of the paddy wagons so the bar patrons inside could escape. Tree said all the stores and residences on the block let paddy wagon escapees hide in their hallways so the vice officers could not re-arrest them.

Tree explained that no one knows who threw the rock or brick into the Stonewall Inn window. He said some people took a parking meter out of the ground and used it as a battering ram against the vice officers and they lit garbage cans on fire to throw them into the bar to burn it down with the police inside.

Keehnen wondered what the biggest misconceptions about the riot were and Tree said the things stand out that were not true—such as Johnson throwing the rock, that a high heel broke the window and that Judy Garland's death had something to do with it.

In terms of when Tree knew the riots were a big deal, he explained that it was not until much later, when he was asked to give a speech at the United Nations on the 25th anniversary of the event.

Tree said he is proud to have been at the Stonewall Inn when the riot started and to be working there since it reopened. He added that middle and high school students now come to the bar on field trips to learn about the riots and other LGBTQ history, concluding that this means so much to him because he gets to share his experiences with them.

A Q&A session followed.

Note: Carrie Maxwell is also a volunteer with the Legacy Project.


This article shared 2547 times since Fri Jun 7, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Windy City Times publishes book of historical newspaper covers
2021-04-12
Windy City Times newspaper, founded in 1985, is publishing a limited-edition, four-color book featuring hundreds of covers from its own archives, plus covers from other LGBTQ Chicago media, including Outlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida, Identity and ...


Gay News

Windy City Times publishes book of historical newspaper covers
2021-04-14
Windy City Times newspaper, founded in 1985, is publishing a limited-edition, four-color book featuring hundreds of covers from its own archives, plus covers from other LGBTQ Chicago media, including Outlines, BLACKlines, En La Vida, Identity and more ...


Gay News

GLAAD Media Awards honors creative forces of change in media, culture
2021-04-09
--From a press release, video below - Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, April 8, 2021 — GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, tonight hosted a virtual ceremony to announce the award recipients of the 32nd Annu ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ History Podcast Queer Serial launches third and final season
2021-04-07
--From a press release - Queer Serial, the acclaimed LGBTQ+ history podcast produced and hosted by 2021 GLAAD Award nominee Devlyn Camp, returns Monday, April 12, with its final season. Season 3 picks up in 1963, as militant gay activists, taking ...


Gay News

465+ feminist leaders sign open letter in solidarity with trans women and girls
2021-03-31
--From a GLAAD press release - More than 465 feminist leaders sign open letter standing in solidarity with transgender women and girls in honor of Women's History Month and Transgender Day of Visibility. The letter, organized by GLAAD & Raquel Willis, comes ...


Gay News

Nearly half of all LBQ women have been physically or sexually assaulted
2021-03-30
--From a press release - New study examines the social, economic, physical, and psychological well-being of cisgender and transgender LBQ women and girls A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds about 5% of cisgender and ...


Gay News

Newberry Library to honor Lonnie G. Bunch III on May 24
2021-03-26
In a virtual event on Monday, May 24, at 6 p.m., the Newberry Library will honor Lonnie G. Bunch III for his contributions to the humanities. Bunch became secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in June 2019 ...


Gay News

CHM to explore work of photographer Vivian Maier
2021-03-25
The Chicago History Museum 1601 N. Clark St., is featuring a collection of many never-before-seen works by world-renowned photographer Vivian Maier in an upcoming exhibition, "Vivian Maier: In Color," opening to the public May 8. "The ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart celebrating Pearl Hart's birthday through April 7
2021-03-25
--From a Gerber/Hart press release - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives is celebrating the April 7 birthday of Pearl Hart, the "heart" of Gerber/Hart, and raising funds to help Gerber/Hart continue its vital mission to preserve LGBTQ history in Chicago and the Midwest. ...


Gay News

Evanston makes history by paying reparations to Black families
2021-03-23
On March 22, the Evanston City Council voted eight to one to adopt a resolution that will allow it to become the first city in the nation to implement a program to fund reparations for its Black residents, approving plans to ...


Gay News

Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscars party to be virtual on April 25
2021-03-22
The 29th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) Academy Awards Pre-Party will be hosted by Emmy- and Tony-winning actor and New York Times best-selling author Neil Patrick Harris alongside Sir Elton John and David Furnish, with ...


Gay News

Chicago alderman proposes zoning amendment banning house museums, raising ire
2021-03-20
--From a press release - CHICAGO, March 18, 2021 — Emmett Till's death became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement 66 years ago. Till's mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, worked tirelessly to preserve her son's place in history. From the segregated ...


Gay News

Doc honors 89-year old lesbian-feminist icon Sally Gearhart, raises early $30,000
2021-03-18
--From a press release - San Francisco, CA — The feature documentary "Sally" is a humorous, thought-provoking and inspiring American road-trip in search of iconic lesbian-feminist activist Sally Gearhart. Brilliant, charismatic, provocative and visionary, Sally ...


Gay News

WNBA marking Women's History Month
2021-03-15
In celebration of Women's History Month, the WNBA announced plans for the league's landmark 25th season, which include the new campaign "Count It" and a 25th-season logo. Among season-long celebrations to highlight the league's milestones and ...


Gay News

PPIA to feature Lauren Underwood on March 5
2021-03-02
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) has announced a special Activist University Extra Credit session featuring Congresswoman Lauren Underwood on Friday, March 5, at 5:30 p.m. Kicking off Women's History Month ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.