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One Leatherman's Stonewall Experience in 1969

By June 28, 1969

Let's see... six months had elapsed since I joined the touring company of Cabaret.
In preparation for an indefinite period on he road, I'd sublet my New York, West 93rd Street studio apartment to an attractive and well-dressed young Wall Streeter who, in his nonprofessional hours, was into uniforms and Leather. His rent checks provided a tidy nest egg along with my salary from acting and singing.
Our tour took us to over a dozen cities in the US, from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Coast. When our travel schedule allowed, I' go back to New York to check on my Uptown apartment and the tenant.
On one of the last of three New York trips, I stayed overnight, as the tenant had vacated my place. I had to return to the touring company, which was in transit from Washington, DC to Philadelphia. That next morning, I craved a home-style breakfast at one of The Village's gay-run restaurants, before taking the Metroliner to Philadelphia. So, I rode the IRT Seventh Avenue Subway from my end of the 96th Street Station down to Christopher Street. I climbed the stairs from the station platform to the bright, sweet-smelling summer air of the little triangular park dedicated to General Phil Sheridan of Civil War renown. The shape of the park was no impediment to its being named Sheridan Square; check your geometry.
There were two or three decent restaurants just north of Christopher Street and that's where I planned to go.
Almost at the top of the stairs of the subway, I began feeling uneasy.
It was far too quiet one moment. The next moment all hell broke loose.
The damn bottle whizzed by the right side of my head and shattered on the pavement, a couple of yards in front of me. Even though it was mid-morning, there was out-of-place activity. Some guy ran past me, west on Christopher Street; the same direction as the restaurants. Then a group of New York's Finest, read: 10th Precinct cops, were fantastically assiduous in their mandate to clear the streets of those detested faggots from The Village's bars, restaurants, shops and baths.
Apparently the bottle, which, likewise, assiduously missed my head, had been hurled by a determined drag queen whose heel had broken at the moment prior to release. That glass messenger had been intended for one of New York's Finest, but had become my momentary companion. So, heed the admonition to not wear evening stilettos before 6 PM and after 2 AM; Cuban heels are best, especially when hurling bottles at NYPD Blues.
The Greek-run coffee shop was a most welcoming haven at the 8th Avenue intersection. It took me a few minutes to calm down enough to sip in the fresh coffee and think about what to order; much appetite was gone. But, I needed nourishment for the trip to Penn Station and the Metroliner ride to Philadelphia.
Breakfast turned out well, in spite of the excitement I'd experienced only some minutes earlier. At the same time, the meal cost under $3.50 including tip and tax. I paid my bill, left the tip and left the coffee shop.
I proceeded very carefully and alertly north away from Sheridan Square, making my way to the next subway station at 14th Street. It was only six blocks, which, for a New Yorker, is a pleasant stroll, especially on a sunny, late June morning-after of the Stonewall Backlash.
We had had enough of the cops' and other officials' attitudes and actions against gays. Stonewall was the landmark, in more ways than one, of change from that late June 1969 weekend, lemme tell ya! www.aarp.org/Gay-Rights-Movement