Join me for our special episode in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the beginning of the modern gay rights movement in the United States, and the neighborhood where it took place.
My guests will be Michael Venturiello, founder and owner of Christopher Street Tours, and Stonewall veteran and longtime village resident Michael Levine.
Tune in for this fascinating conversation at TalkRadio.nyc.
The show begins by discussing the topic of Stone Wall and how much it means to the LGBTQ community. The guests are Michael Venuriello and Michael Levine. Venuriello is the founder of Christopher Street Tours and a New York native. He wrote his novel around five years ago based on the Stonewall Uprising that was inspired by a college thesis. In the 1850’s the Brooklyn waterfront becomes a main location for queer people to coexist. Later, Bowery becomes another one of these places. During the 2nd World War, a bill was passed that allowed discrimination towards people becuase of their sexulity. This resulted in fear from the LGBTQ comminty. Bars also served as one of the only public places that the community inhabited.
Michael has some new tours that are now running. He has some important figures being featured on them. The night of the uprisings, people were throwing coins at the police. The protests lasted multiple nights. Since it lasted so long, the mafia owners were forced to close the venue. In The Village, gay life was accepted very well compared to other places. After Stonewall, the number of gay rights organizations multiplies all throughout the nation. After every year, hundreds more of them began to get established. In the 70’s and 80’s the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen areas became popular locations for the community to live and grow.
Tonight’s second guest is Michael Levine who is a Stonewall veteran. He has achieved so many things for the state of New York and the LGBTQ community. He knew he was gay when he was younger and had the urge to move from Brooklyn because he was not accepted. He found places that were just a few blocks from Stonewall but ended up moving to the largest studio apartment he could find. In 1968 his job could have been at risk because of his sexuality. He was a city employee. There was always a slight fear that he would not be promoted and scolded.
During the night of the raid, Michael was at the bar and on a date. He was dancing on the main dance floor then went to the bar when the raid began. People started filing out of the bar but Michael was worried that people would find out that he was gay because he was there. Others started dancing in the street towards Waverly Pl. Dancers would face the police and chase after them while they ran away in fear. They made a statement saying that they will dance in the street if they cannot dance inside. Michael went back a couple nights after and saw a sign saying that it was closed. People still enjoyed dancing in the street outside the bar until the police got involved. After Stonewall subsided, Michael no longer felt the urge to closet his sexuality.