Taking stock of life during Stonewall 50


Like many, as the year ends, I usually take a look at what kind of year it has been. For me, 2019 was the year of Stonewall 50 and celebrating 50 years as an activist for change. This year turned out to be the busiest of my life, and thanks to you, it gave me an opportunity to take stock of not only the year, but my life as well.

As I wrote in my memoir, “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality” my life’s motto was from a fictional character from a novel, a film and later on the Broadway stage: Auntie Mame.  She was flamboyant and outrageous.  Her motto was, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Followed by “Live, Live, Live.”

After 68 years of fight, I now know that I’ve fulfilled that goal.

The title of my memoir kept changing before publication.  The one I wanted was “It’s Not Me, but the Circus around Me.”  Then there was “Pushy Jew Faggot.” Both of them my publisher thought were over the top. There was also “From Stonewall to the White House,” which was literally true but just didn’t have spirit.  But what the titles showed, combined, was a life full.

This year, 2019, and all the spotlight that came my way was surprising to me.  But when you have media from around the world wanting to interview you about Stonewall, LGBT affordable housing, fighting the TV networks, creating community where there was none before, LGBT publishing, and pioneering legislation and lobbying, you realize how important all those things were. I also came to realize that I was among the last of that first out generation who didn’t just say they were at the first night of Stonewall but were there the second night and every day since.  This year made me feel a sense of accomplishment that was difficult to accept. The reality is that I and a few others are a lifeline to that history, and when we are gone only our memoirs and the records we leave behind will be able to tell that story. It is a privilege to be able to tell our story now.

So while this year was one of the busiest, it also was one of the happiest, since everything I’ve fought for in the last 50 years is a reality or becoming a reality. Want proof? That’s easy for me because I can say: I’m a very happily married man. n

Newsletter Sign-up