- Looking Backward and Forward
In the wake of the Stonewall riots in June 1969, The Village Voice published a couple of pieces that provoked even more protests. In “View from the Inside,” Howard Smith described “the gay customers freshly ejected from their hangout, prancing high and jubilant in the street”1 and “the police had trouble keeping a dyke in a patrol car.”2 As the riots began, he observed, “the sound filtering in doesn’t suggest dancing faggots any more.”3 In “View from the Outside,” Lucian Truscott IV wrote: “Sheridan Square this weekend looked like something from a William Burroughs novel as the sudden specter of ‘gay power’ erected its brazen head and spat out a fairy tale the likes of which the area has never seen.”4 In response to the protestors having been maliciously labeled “the forces of faggotry,”5 angry readers marched on the Voice offices. Yet, despite the inflammatory language used to report the events, the Voice was more prescient than the New York Times which simply published a brief piece after the third confrontation with police, on July 3, at the Stonewall Inn “which the police said was well known for its homesexual [sic] clientele.”6 The Times didn’t even publish any of the photos taken until 40 years later. Historic events are easier to see in hindsight, of course, but Stonewall has become an important touchstone in gay history and politics. Despite the description of “wrists were limp, hair was primped,” the Voice’s Truscott also foresaw that “[t]he result was a kind of liberation, as the gay brigade emerged from the bars, back rooms, and bedrooms of the Village and became street people,”7 and he concludes his piece warning readers: “Watch out. The liberation is underway.”8
As we publish the last issue in the first volume of QED, we take this moment to reflect back on the past year of this journal, as well as the rapidly changing landscape of GLBTQ politics. Forty-five years after Stonewall, we might read the [End Page v] uprising as a gesture towards many futures in which nonnormatively gendered and sexualized people could live differently. As the late José Esteban Muñoz, who is memorialized in this issue’s Forum, reminds us: “Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present.”9 Stonewall was a performative call to think otherwise. It was not simply a being, but a doing and acting for a different future. The “die-ins” of AIDS activists, the interventionist artwork of Gran Fury, and all of the other work of activists and academics would later drive all of us to work, act, and perform toward a better world.
GLBTQ politics are driven by a sense that living differently is possible and this vision has led to pushing a number of issues at the same time. Since the Stonewall riots, we have seen pushing for marriage equality, changes in blood donation restrictions, military service regulations, and more. At a given time, one of these issues may dominate, e.g., AIDS activism, whereas at other times, it isn’t apparent which issue(s) will be at the forefront of social change. Yet, the project of GLBTQ worldmaking does not develop willy-nilly; it develops in a complex relationship between the rhetoric of advocacy for particular issues, in the context of social (im)possibilities. It is more an art than a science. It is in this spirit that we close out the first year of QED—underscoring the diversity of issues confronting GLBTQ worldmaking and contemplating what “worldmaking” means, entails, obligates, imagines, and opens up.
We salute José Esteban Muñoz, both to honor his work and life, as well as to mark his tragic early passing. In the Forum, Bernadette Marie Calafell, along with Carmelita Tropicana, Frederick Corey, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, and Brittany Chávez, explore the contributions of Muñoz to GLBTQ worldmaking.
International concerns continue to drive GLBTQ politics. In this issue, we feature a Queer Conversation on China and the...