The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots have passed, and as an integral part of the anniversary and the 50 years leading up to it, I have an inside track and knowledge as to who the players are and how they did their jobs for our community. Two organizations failed our community this year.
The worst offender? GLAAD
The organization that is supposed to monitor and provide LGBTQ information to media, that claims to be a resource to TV networks — its main contribution to Stonewall 50 was the media guide. The history it provided of our community was misleading and left out important elements of the event as well as the resources to cover them, which left larger media on their own. Of the 50 or so people who are documented ranging from the stonewall riots to the first gay pride, none, to my knowledge, were contacted by GLAAD for their knowledge of history or to be utilized as a resource or even as a fact checker.
Maybe it’s ageism or GLAAD’s need it use celebrities rather then the rank and file of our community but those of us who were at Stonewall, created Gay Liberation Front from the ashes of Stonewall, created the first gay youth organization, LGBT Community Center and the first Gay Pride March were ignored by GLAAD. Those, like myself, who were young and among the first to end invisibility by the media are all still alive but ignored. The people that made it possible for GLAAD’s existence were neglected — a lack of professionalism in the org’s area of expertise.
Mainstream media wanted to understand how coverage had changed in 50 years. From GLAAD, they received a false timeline and a lack of resources. Media sources actually did the homework and changed GLAAD’s timeline, making a mockery of the LGBT org’s so-called guide.
On page one of that guide is a picture and message from GLAAD’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis that includes only two lines regarding the history of Stonewall and states, “This guide is intended to help journalists cover Stonewall 50 with fairness, depth and accuracy.”
GLAAD’s failure is obvious with the guide’s inaccuracies, historic omissions and lack of resources. GLAAD gets an F.
Next on the list is an organization I didn’t expect: SAGE.
SAGE, which was created to work with LGBT seniors, held a number of events centered on Stonewall’s 50th anniversary. The events were great with one exception: basic research was not done. This resulted in embarrassment as people who claimed they were at Stonewall weren’t nor had even the slightest connection. Anyone who was old enough to have been alive during the riots it seems was served up on a panel. Now that’s ageism. Historic details that were inaccurate were put on the record.
The best example: A woman who previously stated she was at Stonewall changed her statement while on a panel and said she was there the second night with Sylvia Rivera. She said they were being chased and were trapped in a cul-de-sac while police attacked them, and she explained their dramatic escape. A great story, but the cul-de-sac was Gay Street, and Gay Street is not a cul-de-sac, a detail that anyone who is familiar with the area knows. Sylvia never mentioned that event any time in her life and the story trivializes Sylvia. It also allows seniors they serve to be set up for ridicule.
To SAGE and GLAAD: Our community and pioneers deserve better.