By Bruce Poli
West Village author David Carter, renowned for his detailed, truth-telling history Stonewall: the Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) endured years of criticism and challenge to his decade-long researched book on the Stonewall Rebellion—its forelife, life and fallout.
Raised in rural Jesup, GA, Carter—who moved to Greenwich Village in 1985—was a passionate follower of homosexual history—as it was once called—and became the source of the 2010 classic black-and-white PBS American Experience documentary Stonewall Uprising by David Heilbroner and Kate Davis.
The Stonewall book, as it is often referred to, despite others by Martin Duberman, Eric Marcus and a host of fine Gay authors and historians, places the long journey to Gay Rights in a societal context that helps readers (and viewers of the film) understand the truly complex road navigated over decades and ultimately centuries to the point of explosion on June 28, 1969 at a dingy dark bar at Sheridan Square in the West Village.
So the meaning of Stonewall which was celebrated throughout the world last year on its 50th anniversary is held high in the words and insights of our esteemed Village author and has spilled onto the streets over the past 50 years, culminating in our current 2020 50th anniversary of marches and protests in this time of quarantine.
The tragedy of David’s death at such a time and in the same month as AIDS activist Larry Kramer brings home the era of gay activism in two pillars of its foundation.
It’s time to celebrate the great accomplishments of these two dignified human beings who have brought high standards to the Human Rights era of Gay activism. The meaning of Stonewall is not in the sullen tortured rooms of the Mafia-dominated homosexual bar, but the leaders—Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker, Laverne Cox, Frank Kameny, Quentin Crisp, Dick Leitsch et al who have given to us the great force and fight for dignity and equality. So in the end it was the David Carters who were the Stonewall riots’ most important products and benefits to our democracy… and the progress of human evolution.