The Stonewall Reader
Edited by the New York Public Library
Penguin Classics. 307 pages, $18.
AT THE FIFTIETH anniversary of the Stonewall riots, we find ourselves with a plethora of books and memorial exhibits that document what Ed White calls “the fall of our gay Bastille.” The events of that last weekend in June 1969, when the police raided the little queer bar on Christopher Street, and the patrons, instead of meekly submitting, angrily fought back, inaugurated the “Year of the New Homosexual.” Things were never the same again. It was a “collective shriek heard round the world,” writes Larry Mitchell, one of the almost fifty contributors to The New York Public Library’s excellent anthology of witnesses.
Editor Jason Baumann, the library’s assistant director for collection development, has assembled a first-rate anthology of pieces that tell the story of the first decade of the Stonewall era. The first third of the book, “Before Stonewall,” offers a rich sampling of vignettes about the situation for gays and lesbians before the riots.