The Spirit of Stonewall and a Glass of Jack

I’ve sure you all spent the weekend obsessively refreshing the Buzz Cuts and Bustiers homepage, rending your garments and screaming at the sky, “WHERE, OH WHERE IS PART TWO OF BREN’S NYC GAYCATION?!” Well dear readers, your long national nightmare is over – here it is!

As I mentioned before, one of the must-dos of my trip was visiting the Stonewall Inn, the little bar that launched a thousand Pride marches. What I didn’t mention was how awful my timing is. I somehow managed to arrive at 53 Christopher Street about four hours before it opened. I don’t know why I assumed it would just be open whenever I showed up, just waiting for me to grace it with my presence, but I was quite wrong. Needless to say, I never got that drink, but I did get some awesome pictures of the outside and of the Gay Liberation Monument across the street in Christopher Square Park.

Where it all began. Note the faded Dorothy dress in the window. The Stonewall Riots took place after the death of Judy Garland, and legend has it that grief over her passing helped fan the flames of rebellion. We just really love our showtunes, OK?
The Gay Liberation Monument, sculpted by George Segal. Originally approved in 1982, it wasn’t installed until 1992 due to public opposition. Not gonna lie – this monument made me a bit misty-eyed.

Standing in front of the Stonewall was a very powerful experience, because I’m sentimental like that. I really do believe that it’s the responsibility of the community – especially us younger gays – to remember and honor our history. The freedoms that we enjoy today, as well as the freedoms that we’ll enjoy in the future (there are many battles left to fight and win), are all possible because a group of queens, queers, and outlaws got tired of being pushed around and decided to push back. I hope we and the generations to come after us keep the spirit of Stonewall alive by continuing to push back.

By the way, if you’re already planning for next year’s Pride (I am), Christopher Street is a great place to go for rainbow-colored everything. Two words: Rainbow. Tie. Also, there’s a sex toy shop roughly every three feet and a costume/leather shop roughly every five. It’s pretty much the gay Champs-Élysées.

The third goal of my Big City Adventure was to visit a full-time dyke bar. My beloved Boston, great as it may be in other aspects, is shamefully lacking an all-gay-all-the-time space for women. Sure, we have our weekly bar nights and monthly club events, but it’s just not enough. So I was pretty excited when I arrived at Ginger’s, a gay lady watering hole (heh) in Park Slope.

I’m not really sure what I expected to find inside Ginger’s. Maybe I hoped to find a crowd of weathered butches and old school femmes – the characters from Stone Butch Blues, basically – ready to take me, a newcomer, under their wings. What I did find was, well, what one would probably find in any local bar on a rainy Tuesday evening: a handful of regulars – all couples – who were there for an after-work drink and had no interest in talking to a stranger. Granted, it was early; I’m told that anytime before 11:00 is early in New York, even on a work night. The Puritan last-call-by-2 AM Boston bar scene has ruined me.

I ordered my Jack on the rocks from the cheerful gay male bartender (who didn’t card me) and took a seat at a small table. As time passed, I made fleeting eye contact with a few patrons, but that was the extent of my human interaction. I began to wonder how pathetic I looked, sitting alone in the corner, nursing my drink and glancing around furtively. I must have appeared to be, at best, desperate and single, and at worst, an alcoholic (for the record, I’m none of the above).

One thing that did make me smile was the stud/femme couple playing pool together in the next room. I love coming across any butch/femme or stud/femme pairs when I’m out and about, and these two were pretty damn adorable.

Anyway, after I had finished catching up with my buddy Jack, I left Ginger’s and headed back to the hotel. Even though my visit hadn’t gone exactly as planned (but when does anything in life?), I was still glad I had gone and given some money to help save the endangered species known as the Gay Bar.

My time in NYC was brief, but the knowledge and images I collected while I was there will stay with me for a very long time. And I’m totally going back to Stonewall for Pride next summer, to raise a glass to our rich gay hi/herstory. Cheers!

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About Bren

I'm a self-identified butch lesbian geek Masshole with a passion for comic books, action figures, queer issues, flannel, and pretty ladies. Oh, and comments. I love me some comments (hint, hint).

6 thoughts on “The Spirit of Stonewall and a Glass of Jack

  1. haha…I never knew those statues were a gay monument! Oops. I feel like the worst NYC gay ever! I pass them sometimes when I’m drunk and think they are real people.

    • Hahaha, well, now that you know those aren’t actually very quiet and pale people hanging out in that square, you should check it out! 😉

  2. I like the picture of the monument. In the right lighting (foggy, twilight), I can imagine they might look like spirits. They kinda do anyway.

    I can’t believe Boston doesn’t have a full-time lesbian bar! The one in Seattle has been notoriously femme-unfriendly in the past (not sure now), which made a less interesting place to hang out than it might otherwise have been, but it has at least existed for 26 years.

    • It’s a really beautiful monument. The plaque said that the silence and paleness of the figures took on another, more somber meaning after the AIDS epidemic hit…

      And yeah, Boston really needs to get itself a full-time dyke bar, good and fast!

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