My Series About a ‘Movement with No Leaders’ Uncovered Many

I have an itch for documenting things. I’m captivated by the history of history — how we recount and relate our past to the present and the future. It’s why I’m drawn to futurism, and why I’m so fascinated by the way cities and social movements work.

When Jeremy Peters wrote Why the Gay Rights Movement Has No National Leader for The New York Times in 2009, I resolved to meet with founding members of the GLF, to see for myself if his claims were true. Over 10 days that summer, I caught up with surviving founders who, by that time, were scattered across the country.

The result was 40 Years After Stonewall, a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the modern queer rights movement.

In a short time, I explored the compelling lives of a group of kids who came to New York to “make it big,” or simply to be themselves, blending in with the city’s teeming diversity. How they converged, how their adventures brought them face-to-face with figures like Huey Newton of the Black Panthers, AIDS activist Larry Kramer and civil rights icon Jane Fonda, you can read for yourself on the Stonewall Rebels website.

These interviews are a resource for historians and activists. With Stonewall’s 50th anniversary approaching, I’m excited to see how we can improve on the 2009 series.

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