Oral History: Night of the Stonewall Uprising
Bert Coffman and Ruthybird Campbell were both at the Stonewall Inn after midnight on June 28th, 1969 – the night of the famous uprising. As a compliment to John Marchesella’s talk on the astrological chart of Stonewall, these two veterans will discuss this fated evening from their own perspective and answer questions about the uprising including the role played by women as well as individuals outside of the gender binary.
Ruthybird Campbell had a zest for anyone as outrageous as she was at the time of the late 1960s, especially with flambouyancy and overdone make-up. That answer was some of the femme Gay boys of Greenwich Village, particularly the ‘flame queens’ along Christopher Street. Ruthybird was especially compassionate and helpful to many of the homeless Gay youth. She gave them small amounts of money, bought them food and, in some cases, did their make-up.
Bert Coffman writes: In 1969, I went to The Stonewall Club to dance, to Christopher’s End to meet guys and to old Julius’ Bar to be treated to drinks. The spirit of protest started to arise in the Gay community. “Gay Unity!” There was much from the anti-Viet Nam War protests, the civil rights demonstrations, and the women’s rights movement. “Gay Rights!” I went from moonlit Stonewall to rainy Woodstock in the Summer of 1969, with many protest demonstrations in between.