Gay historian Martin Duberman on Pride and why we must keep it politicalHistorians in the News
tags: LGBT, Martin Duberman
Distinguished author, historian and playwright Martin Duberman, 86, has written more than two dozen books on LGBT heritage and culture, icons of the progressive movement and race relations in America. He has received three Lambda Literary Awards and a 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Historical Association. His latest book is a provocative nonfiction novel about the Belle Epoque era of Germany, titled “Jews Queers Germans.”
Describe your first Pride.
It was 1973, the year that trans activist Sylvia Rivera tried to reach the mic on the stage set up in Washington Square Park (where Vito Russo was the rally emcee) and was forcibly restrained and vigorously booed by the crowd. Sylvia, who was a friend, confessed to me that she’d been stoned, but that hardly excuses the murderous reception she was given. It marked the end of her involvement in the movement.
How has Pride changed over the years?
It’s grown far more confident—and commercial. In the early years we were also a little leery of hostile onlookers tossing a bottle at our heads.
Does Pride feel different this year?
I think the March this year needs to be, above all, political. Less frivolity and more anger. Trump is no friend to the LGBTQ community and gay people need to make it clear that we regard ourselves as part of the Resistance. It isn’t clear now.
Who is one person from LGBTQ history, alive or dead, that you like to party with at Pride?
Again, it would be Sylvia. In my book Stonewall she was one of the key figures I featured. I interviewed her many times and at length, and got to know her well. She was all at once a remarkably tough and tender person. We stayed friendly after the book came out and I very much miss her electric personality. ...
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