“STONEWALL FOREVER”

June 25, 2019 at 4:30 am

As the city marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Google unveils a virtual monument to commemorate LGBTQ history.

Aired on June 24, 2019. 

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>> ON A HOT JUNE NIGHT 1969, A
ROUTINE POLICE RAID OF THE
POPULAR GAY BAR AT THE STONEWALL
INN SPARKED THE FIRST WAVE.
IT CONTINUED TO INSPIRE ALL TO
FIGHT FOR EQUALITY.
IT IS WITH THAT SAME PASSION
THAT NEW YORK CITY'S LGBT
COMMUNITY CENTER AND GOOGLE HAVE
TEAMED UP TO FIND, PRESERVE AND
SHARE MANY STILL UNTOLD STORIES
OF FOOTAGE OF THE RIOTS IN A NEW
PROJECT APTLY NAMED STONEWALL
FOREVER.
JOINING ME WITH DETAILS TO TALK
ABOUT THIS AND HELP CELEBRATE
THE SUMMER OF '69, JEFF KLEIN AT
THE LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER AND
PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT GOOGLE.
WELCOME.
>> THANK YOU.
>> THIS IS A FASCINATING
INITIATIVE YOU HAVE PUT
TOGETHER.
TO SET THE STAGE FOR THIS,
PERHAPS SOME YOUNGER VIEWERS OUT
THERE, PEOPLE NOT FAMILIAR WITH
WHAT HAPPENED 50 YEARS AGO, GIVE
US A, A SNAPSHOT, IF YOU WILL,
OF WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT, AS
I SAID, 50 YEARS AGO, HOW IT ALL
PLAYED OUT, AND THEN WE CAN TALK
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCE.
JEFF, DO YOU WANT TO JUMP IN?
>> SURE.
STONEWALL RIOT WAS A HOT EVENING
IN JUNE IN 1969 AND POLICE
RAIDED THE STONEWALL IN A BAR IN
THE WEST VILLAGE THAT WAS A SAFE
SPACE FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.
THEY CELEBRATE THEIR OWN
IDENTITIES AND MEET EACH OTHER.
AND THE BAR WAS RAIDED AND
PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED AND THE
COMMUNITY SAID, THAT'S ENOUGH.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANY
MORE.
IT WAS FREQUENT AT THE TIME.
>> THAT WAS THE UNIQUE THING
ABOUT IT BECAUSE THOSE RAIDS
WERE --
>> IT WAS A REGULAR RAID.
>> IT WAS A REGULAR RAID, AND
NORMALLY PEOPLE KNEW HOW TO ACT
WHEN THE POLICE CAME IN AND WHAT
WAS DEFINING OR EXTRAORDINARY
ABOUT THIS MOMENT WAS THAT THE
PATRONS OF THE BAR SAID, NO.
>> ENOUGH.
>> YEAH, ENOUGH.
AND IT TURNED INTO A THREE OR
FOUR-DAY MELEE.
>> AND IMPORTANT TO NOTE,
BECAUSE PEOPLE NOT FAMILIAR WITH
IT MAY SAY WHY WERE THE POLICE
RAIDING IT?
HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY WAS CRIMINAL
AT THE TIME.
WE'RE ONLY TALKING ABOUT 50
YEARS AGO.
>> BEFORE WE GET TO WHAT'S GOING
ON IN THE INITIATIVE, I WANT TO
TALK ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION,
TOO.
WE MENTIONED BEFORE THAT IT WAS
THE BEGINNING, SPARKED SIX DAY'S
WORTH OF PROTESTS, INDEED, WORTH
OF RIOTS.
AND WE HAVE OFTEN HEARD PEOPLE
SAY THAT THIS WAS, IF NOT THE
PIVOTAL MOMENT IN THE GAY RIGHTS
MOVEMENT, IT WAS CERTAINLY ONE
OF THEM.
WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT WOULD
BE, EACH OF YOU?
WILLIAM, YOU FIRST.
>> IT WAS DEFINITELY A CATALYST
FOR THE MOVEMENT, WHICH HAD BEEN
GROWING BEFORE, BEFORE
STONEWALL.
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF COMMUNITY
ORGANIZATIONS THAT WERE BUBBLING
UP LIKE THE SOCIETY THAT WAS
FIGHTING FOR LGBT EQUALITY.
BUT THIS DEFIANT ACT REALLY WAS
A CATALYZING MOMENT FOR EVERYONE
IN THE CITY AND AROUND THE WORLD
WHO WERE ALSO ENGAGING IN THIS
ACTIVITY.
AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO
SAY THAT IT WASN'T JUST, YOU
KNOW, THE SEVERAL DAYS OF RIOTS.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT WAS
EQUALLY IMPORTANT.
IT ACTUALLY SPAWNED A YEAR'S
WORTH OF VERY CONCERTED, VERY
PUBLIC PROTESTS THAT ULTIMATELY
A YEAR LATER ON THE ANNIVERSARY
OF THE RIOTS, SPARKED THE VERY
FIRST GAY -- GAY RIGHTS PARADE.
>> SO LET'S TALK ABOUT --
>> WE CALL IT PRIDE NOW.
>> EXACTLY.
>> WE'VE MADE THAT PROGRESSION
TO GET TO PRIDE.
>> YES.
>> CONSIDERING THAT IT WAS JUST
50 YEARS AGO WHEN IT WAS
CRIMINAL CONDUCT.
SO LET'S TALK ABOUT STONEWALL
FOREVER.
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
>> SO STONEWALL FOREVER IS A
PROJECT TO CELEBRATE ANNIVERSARY
OF THE RIOTS.
GOOGLE A CLOSE CENTER, BEING A
FEW FEET AWAY DOWN IN THE
VILLAGE.
AND SO IT WAS A PERFECT MARRIAGE
OF THE CENTER'S COMMUNITY
CONNECTION AND OUR NATIONAL LGBT
ARCHIVE CONTAINING ARTIFACTS AND
MATERIALS FROM DECADES OF LGBT
LIFE IN NEW YORK CITY AND
DIFFERENT FOLKS WHO CONTRIBUTED.
AND GOOGLE'S TECHNOLOGY AND
SCALE TO REACH PEOPLE ACROSS THE
GLOBE.
AS WE WERE TALKING, PRIDE HAS
BECOME JUNE.
JUNE IS PRIDE MONTH.
AND THAT'S NOT JUST IN NEW YORK
CITY.
THAT'S ALL OVER THE WORLD.
AND SO THE ABILITY TO TAKE
SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED
PHYSICALLY IN NEW YORK AT A
PLACE IN THE STREETS OF NEW YORK
CITY, BUT HAS HAD A RIPPLE
EFFECT ACROSS THE GLOBE, WITHOUT
OUR ORGANIZATIONS PARTNERING
TOGETHER WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE
THE WAY IT IS.
>> GOOGLE, I ASSUME BEING THE
ORGANIZATION THAT IT IS, I'M
SURE A LOT OF GROUPS AND
ORGANIZATIONS AND CAUSES COME TO
GOOGLE AND SAY, WE'D LIKE TO
PARTNER WITH YOU.
WHY THIS PARTNERSHIP?
>> AS JEFF SAID, IT REALLY WAS
KIND OF A PERFECT MARRIAGE.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, THEY ARE OUR
NEIGHBORS, AND ONE OF OUR
STRATEGIC COMMUNITY PARTNERS.
WE HAVE A LONG HISTORY OF
VOLUNTEERISM BETWEEN OUR
EMPLOYEES AND THE CENTER.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE SAW A
REALLY IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY
HERE.
IT WAS AROUND THE DESIGNATION OF
THE MONUMENT, WHICH WAS A VERY
BIG THING BACK IN 2016, AND ALSO
OUR ABILITY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
TO HELP DISSEMINATE THAT
INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED
THAT NIGHT.
WE THOUGHT, LIKE, THIS IS A GOOD
OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW NOT ONLY HOW
TECHNOLOGY CAN WORK FOR
EVERYONE, BUT ALSO CAN TELL A
REALLY COMPELLING STORY ABOUT A
COMMUNITY WHOSE HISTORY IS KIND
OF LOST.
AND AS YOU KNOW, THAT'S PART OF
OUR MISSION, TO DISSEMINATE
INFORMATION AND MAKE IT
ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE.
>> SO WHAT IS THE PROJECT
DESIGNED TO GATHER UP, TO ALLOW
STONEWALL TO REMAIN FOREVER?
>> SO, THE PROJECT IS PART
ARCHIVE, PART STORYTELLING
PLATFORM AND MEDIUM, AND ALSO
PART AUGMENTED REALITY.
IT WEAVES TOGETHER A LOT OF
SEEMINGLY DISPARATE BITS OF
INFORMATION, ORAL HISTORIES FROM
PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE AT THE
NIGHT OF THE RIOTS.
PRIDE MEMORABILIA FROM THE VERY
FIRST MARCH.
IT ALSO PUTS TOGETHER ARCHIVAL
MATERIAL LIKE DIARIES AND
POSTERS, STORIES THAT WERE, UP
UNTIL THIS POINT, LOST.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY -- AND THIS
IS THE THING I THINK IS REALLY
EXCITING -- IT ALSO INCORPORATES
CURRENT USER GENERATED
INFORMATION.
SO PEOPLE -- IT ALLOWS PEOPLE
NOW TO CONTRIBUTE THEIR STORY TO
THE --
>> I WAS GOING TO ASK YOU THAT.
IF SOMEBODY IS WATCHING THIS
CONVERSATION WE'RE HAVING AND
SAYING, I WAS THERE, OR MY
FRIEND AND MY PARTNER WERE
THERE, I KNOW SOME STORIES ABOUT
IT, HOW DO THEY DO THAT?
>> THEY CAN DO IT ONE OF TWO
WAYS.
GIVEN THAT STONEWALL FOREVER
EXISTS ONLINE, IT EXISTS VIA
YOUR DESKTOP OR YOUR LAPTOP,
ALSO EXISTS ON YOUR PHONE VIA
FREE APP.
BUT IT ALLOWS ANYONE ANYWHERE
AROUND THE WORLD -- YOU DON'T
HAVE TO ACTUALLY BE AT THE
SITE -- TO EXPLORE THE MONUMENT,
LEARN ABOUT THE NIGHT OR THOSE
NIGHTS AT STONEWALL, LEARN HOW
IT INSPIRED 50 YEARS OF
ACTIVISM, AND THEN IT ALLOWS
THEM TO TELL THEIR OWN STORY
ABOUT THEIR FIGHT FOR EQUALITY,
BE IT A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY,
SOMEBODY WHO WAS THERE BACK 50
YEARS AGO, OR SOMEONE WHO WASN'T
THERE BUT WHO FIGHTS FOR
TRANSGENDER RIGHTS OR FOR QUEER
RIGHTS.
>> WHAT SORT OF RESPONSES AND
REACTIONS HAVE YOU BEEN GETTING
TO IT?
>> THEY'VE BEEN PRETTY
INCREDIBLE.
JUST TALK ABOUT MY OWN PERSONAL
RESPONSE BECAUSE WE WERE JUST
LOOKING AT THE WEBSITE AND THE
APP TODAY.
BUT IT'S PRETTY -- IT'S PRETTY
AMAZING BECAUSE AS I SAID, PART
OF IT IS DIGITAL ART PROJECT.
SO ALL OF THIS INFORMATION THAT
WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GATHER AND
WE HOPE CONTINUE TO GATHER, YOU
KNOW, PAST THIS POINT, IS ALL
ARRAYED IN AUGMENTED REALITY.
SO IF YOU GO TO THE APP AND YOU
OPEN IT UP, THE APP BRINGS YOU
ACTUALLY TO THE SITE.
AND OUT OF THE SITE YOU SEE
THESE MULTICOLORED PRISMS.
AS YOU TOUCH THE PRISMS, THE
PRISMS OPEN UP AND TELL YOU A
STORY.
AND IT LEADS YOU ON A VERY
ORGANIC NONLINEAR DISCUSSION
ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE
RIOTS, WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE
RIOTS, AND AS I SAID, WHAT
HAPPENED THOSE FIVE DECADES
AFTER THE RIOTS AND HOW THE
COMMUNITY STRUGGLED FOR THEIR
EQUAL RIGHTS.
>> AND IT'S NOT JUST A
PRESENTATION OF SOME HISTORICAL
ARTIFACTS WHICH -- THERE'S LOTS
OF WAYS TO DO THAT.
IT'S REALLY INTERACTIVE.
THERE IS A WAY TO FEEL LIKE
YOU'RE PHYSICALLY AT THE SITE,
RIGHT.
THIS IS THE FIRST NATIONAL PARK
THAT INCLUDES THE LGBTQ
COMMUNITY AS PART OF ITS STORY.
THAT'S REALLY SIGNIFICANT, AND
NOT THAT PEOPLE CAN'T ATTEND,
CAN'T PHYSICALLY GO THERE.
SO THIS IS A CHANCE TO BRING
PEOPLE TO THE PARK AND FOR
PEOPLE TO BE THERE WITH THE
TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE TODAY, AND TO
ENGAGE WITH IT.
>> I THINK TWO THINGS.
ONE IS THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME
AND PLACE.
THE TECHNOLOGY IS THERE TO TELL
THE STORY IN A DIFFERENT WAY, A
MORE EFFECTIVE AND POWERFUL WAY.
AND I THINK IN LOOKING AT IT AND
HOW YOU'VE PUT IT TOGETHER --
AND YOU UNDERSTAND THIS, THAT
GREAT STORYTELLING COMES FROM
PEOPLE.
YOU CAN HAVE A STORY AND TELL IT
AND THAT'S IMPORTANT.
BUT TO GET PEOPLE WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCED SOMETHING AND TO BE
ABLE TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES,
YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT IS THE
ESSENCE OF GREAT STORYTELLING.
AND CERTAINLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING
IS FULFILLING THAT MISSION.
AGAIN IT'S CALLED STONEWALL
FOREVER.
IT'S A MAGNIFICENT PROJECT.
YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION ARE
DOING GREAT WORK.
THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US
AND TALKING WITH US.
>> THANK YOU.
>> APPRECIATE IT.
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE WORK THAT
YOU'RE DOING.
AND FOR YOU FOLKS OUT THERE, IF
YOU'D LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE YOUR
PHOTOS AND MEMORIES FOR THE
STONEWALL RIOT AFTERWARDS, VISIT
METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE DETAILS.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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