Memories of That Night at the Stonewall Inn, From Those Who Were There

After the officer turned around with his nightstick raised and told the onlookers to clear out, something took a turn, Mr. Boyce said. “We just kept taking steps towards him. So I don’t know what we looked like, or what was in our eyes. But he did. And he looked, he flinched, he gulped, and he ran for the door.”

Within minutes, he said, “Bang: The whole thing just blew up.”

Mr. Boyce said he remembered a long night of at least a dozen retreats and returns. At one point, he said, people ran out of things to throw and went out to get more ammunition. When they returned, he said, “they were dragging big, black bags of squeezed oranges from Orange Julius.”

And of course, there was the kickline. “We started this Rockette kickline, singing ‘We Are the Village Girls,’ one of our ditties,” he said.

That squares with Mr. Segal’s recollection of a generally upbeat mood. “We were very happy that night,” he said. “We were joyous.”

“At one point, I felt like screaming, ‘I’m gay!’ in the middle of the street,” he said. “That was unheard-of.”

Asked if he had any regrets about anything he did or didn’t do that first night, Mr. Segal initially said no. “I’m happy that I wrote on the streets, you know, and the walls; I’m happy that I witnessed what I witnessed.” Still, he said, “I don’t remember throwing anything, as other people have.”

“If I have one regret, maybe it’s I didn’t throw a stone or a can,” he said, laughing.

Mr. Boyce was also proud of how the night unfolded. “No scores were settled,” he said, pointing out that the frenzy of a raid was often used for cover to exact personal vengeance. “Queens that really hated each other fought side by side.”


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