New Stonewall Liberation Day, Inc.
New Stonewall Liberation Day, Inc.
Charlotte Whitefeather Daniels, Gilbert Baker, Deirdre Loman, Don Johnson.
San Francisco: 1990-1992.
Collection of 3 documents relating to the incorporation of the New Stonewall Liberation Day Parade and Celebration in San Francisco, in response to the “white assimilationist males” who run “Homosexual Pride.” 3 ll. typescript reproduction stapled “Articles of Incorporation” dated September 13, 1990; 1 l. typescript reproduction on pink paper, ca. 1991, of an “IN YOUR FACE BULLETIN;” 3 ll. typescript reproduction stapled letter asking for financial sponsorship including a “Fact Sheet” about the event and “Sponsorship Opportunities” and costs, dated April 15, 1992. All crisp and clean, although the two stapled documents have a light rust mark on the upper left corner, but otherwise in good condition.
ABOUT THESE DOCUMENTS
In September 1990 Gilbert Baker (famous for creating the “Pride” rainbow flag in 1978), Charlotte Whitefeather Daniels (author of Rebel Without Applause), and Deirdre Loman filed five articles of incorporation for a non-profit, “The New Stonewall Liberation Day Parade and Celebration.” The articles state that the purpose of the corporation was
“[G]iving patronage, supporting and organizing events and activities year round, culminating on, but not limited to, the last Sunday of each June with a parade and celebration to promote the spirit of the ‘Stonewall Riot’ of 1969; the acknowledgement that all individuals must be free to express their uniqueness; benefitting the forward motion on Civil Rights for all Sexual Minorities; facilitating the coming together of all factions of the community ‘to have a good time;’ educating an informing the Public in General of the past and present contributions and oppressions suffered by all Sexual Minorities; and for all other legal and charitable purposes.”
But by July 1991, The Bay Area Reporter featured an article describing the so-called “Pink Saturday Fallout,” that ensued, attested to in the second of these documents, an “IN YOUR FACE BULLETIN:”
“PINK SATURDAY is a FRAUD
We incorporated, just as we were told was necessary.
We borrowed money, hired a lawyer familiar with City Hall, and applied for the appropriate permit for closing the Castro for a Friday night party: CELEBRATION OF STONEWALL HERITAGE; and a Saturday day of networking: FROM THIS DAY FORWARD.
Then the shit hit the fan! We were told by a few white assimilationist males that we would never be allowed to hold such events—no Queer fundraisers or other big events. We were told “off the record” that it was HOMOSEXUAL PRIDE not QUEER PRIDE; that they had “pull” in City Hall and would exercise whatever muscle was necessary…”
The bulletin continues to describe how the organization’s director (Gilbert Baker) was bribed, and their allegations of fraud went unheard by the local supervisor (“Just ask Harry Britt’s office—if they’ll ever answer the phone!”). They mention that Whitefeather Daniels was threatened physically and end with calling a meeting June 17 : “Be there and be queer. SMASH THE GAY MAFIA. We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!”
In July The Bay Area Reporter described the argument between activists Gilbert Baker, Cleve Jones (AIDS activist and protégée of Harvey Milk), and the board of New Stonewall Liberation Day, Inc., particularly Whitefeather Daniels, and members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence including Gilbert Block (Sadie, Sadie the Rabbi Lady) and Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious Power-Hungry Bitch). The argument centered around competition for planning two events: the annual Pride celebrations in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood each June, and Halloween celebrations each October. Joseph van Es-Ballesteros, activist head of another organization meant to plan events for both occasions—Joker Productions, which later hired Baker—described to the Reporter the source of the “community infighting” in a dismissive comment: “It all boils down to a fight between three drag queens: Baker, Block, and Bunch—going on since 1987.” But more seriously, van Es-Ballesteros concludes:
“It is not my job to teach…the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of any other gay white men in bad drag what is right and what is wrong…All of our community needs to benefit from big events like Halloween and Pink Saturday not just petty little gay white men. Not only does the queer community need to reclaim Halloween, but it needs to reclaim it for those who are all too often invisible in our community.”
In this sense the history of New Stonewall Liberation Day, Inc.—which survived at least to compile and distribute a report detailing its activities and successes in order to attract sponsors for 1992 Pride celebrations—contributes to a longer, ongoing struggle concerning assimilation within the LGBTQ liberation movement during Pride season. The argument must have contributed to Gilbert Baker’s growing frustration with San Francisco’s increasingly corporate queer culture as well—in a later interview he described his decision to relocate to New York in 1994 in these terms:
“I had done everything and I had no money. I got tired of it. I would walk down Castro Street and see rainbow dildos and dog collars and I can’t pay my rent. It feels shitty. ‘Gilbert, make me a rainbow this or that’… I’m your rainbow ATM. I can’t sustain it.”
The issues of uneven progress, uneven profits, infighting, and invisibility are all still part of the movement to this day, and the answer remains the same even now: the Heritage of Stonewall was handed down to us predominantly by people of color who were poor, disenfranchised, and anti-assimilationist, and to honor their experience of outrage, their concerns must supersede corporate interests, and they must be allowed to lead the movement forward, if it is to move forward at all.
C. Whitefeather Daniels, Rebel Without Applause: Tales from the Castro Renaissance (San Francisco: Fog City Press, 1999).
Vicky Greenbaum, “Pink Saturday Fallout: Fraud Allegations Taint Image of Street Events,” Bay Area Reporter vol. 21, no. 28, 11 July 1991.
Tony Taylor, “Remembering Gilbert Baker,” The Other Tony Taylor,