Stonewall 2019 Was A Riot when the Inn Threatened to arrest a Black Trans Activist

Stonewall 2019 Was A Riot
Leada Astray / Facebook

The First Pride was a riot and so was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall when a black transgender activist got the mic at the weekly Drag Show.

A group of people from the nearby NCTE Gala spuriously decided to go the Stonewall Inn Thursday night. They wanted to be there during the same hours that 50 years ago sparked the worldwide LGBT revolution.

They thought they were going to a drag show. They weren’t expecting to be in a riot.

According to a video posted by Leada Stray, collaborated by Reuters a black transgender woman asked for the mic midway through the show. She wanted 12 minutes so that she might read the names of the eleven transgender woman of color who have been murdered since the 2018 TDoR.

When the emcee complied according to witnesses, “That’s. When. All. Hell. Broke. Out.”

She was met with jeers by most of the cisgender white gay partiers who tried to shout her out. The management also didn’t like her interrupting the drag show and after a fashion called security, then, it was said, they either threatened her with arrest or actually called the police.

This is when the three trans activists from the NTCE Gala and one cis white gay male and one woman of color joined the riot. They put themselves between security and the drag show attendees. They then began to chant “Let Her Speak” and were soon joined by over a hundred others in the stonewall. Thanks to their quick thinking the bar relented and allowed this trans woman the whole twelve minutes that she asked for to honor our dead.

What follows is history.

This is our history because you won’t see it on the Stonewall page or in Gay publications (so far).

“Last night a black Trans woman disrupted The Stonewall drag show. Stonewall Inn responded by trying to shut her down. Needless to say, that did not happen” – Leada Stray

** transcription below** – huge thanks to @AshDori for the tremendous work in creating that transcript

Good morning everybody.  So, it’s Friday. It’s Friday in New York at World Pride. Um, and last night was Thursday in New York at World Pride, and I’m not sure if everybody knows but at 1:26 AM Friday [] the cops came into the bar.

So, myself and a bunch of folks from the NCTE, Gala, were like, you know what, fuck it, let’s go to the Stonewall. So we went to the Stonewall last night because we decided we wanted to be there right when it happened. They have a drag show on Thursday nights, Logan Hardcore show, great show, um, and then, and then something happened that I just…I just can’t wrap my fucking head around.

In the middle of the show, a black trans woman asked to speak, and she was given the microphone. And, immediately, the bar, the Stonewall bar, the Stonewall Inn, um, immediately, they started trying to shut her down. Um, a-and she’s sitting there, saying, like, you know, where’s your rage? Where’s your rage? One in three black trans women will contract HIV/AIDS. Where’s your rage? That black trans women are the most marginalized of our community? Where’s your rage that black trans women are the most under-housed of our community?

And the bar’s saying, ‘Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!’ On the Anniversary of Stonewall, the bar is trying to shut up a black trans woman.

I want y’all to think about that for a minute. The Stonewall Inn. Tried to shut down a black trans woman who was speaking truth to power. We are not doing good enough. We are not doing enough.


The bar tried to play music over top of her. They tried to take the microphone away from her physically. They got security involved. There was talk of calling the cops. Calling the cops! On a black trans woman, in the Stonewall Inn! On the Anniversary of Pride!! White people, we are not doing enough if this is what’s going on!

So, today, on the anniversary of Stonewall, I want everyone whose skin is white to stand up and educate somebody! ‘Cause this shit cannot be happening. We need to be there! Somebody, and I-I can’t remember the name, somebody phrased it as, um, we need to go back and get our sisters, because apparently, we left them in 1969. And that is not okay.

Black trans women gave us this movement.

Transcript resumes below the Sylvia Rivera interview

So in retrospect was the Stonewall drag show on the 50th anniversary of the riot appropriate? Sylvia Rivera might not have thought so.
Opens in a new window

Sylvia Rivera:  “The Stonewall wasn’t a bar for drag queens. Everybody keeps saying it was. So this is where I get into arguments with people. They say, “Oh, no, it’s always a drag queen bar and it was a black bar. No, Washington Square Bar was the drag queen bar. Okay, you could get into the Stonewall if they knew you and there were only a certain amount of drag queens that were allowed into the Stonewall at that time. ” – Out Magazine

[Leada StrayTranscript continues]

Black trans women are *why* we are here. And if the Stonewall Inn is going to shut down a black trans woman, then those of us with pale skin need to take our pale ass bodies and put them in the [silent] fucking way. Put them in the way, cause that’s what we did last night. A whole freaking [host?] of us.

We put our bodies in between her and everybody who was trying to get her out of there. And she got her time. She got her time! All she wanted was 12 fucking minutes. 12 minutes! We timed it. We timed it because we knew somebody was going to give a shit if she talked too long. That she took too much. 12 fucking minutes. We had to fight for 12 minutes.

What the fuck?!
No, like, no.
Stand up.
Stand the fuck up.
Stop paying lip service. Start fucking doing something. You know, she said, where’s your coin going? Where’s your coin going? A-and I think that’s a really valid question because I could tell you that, um, today? My coin is going no-where but into the pockets of my community. and I’m not going to stand for all this fucking bullshit anymore.

She asked us, where is your rage? Well, I fucking found it – I found my rage when I watched the Stonewall fucking Inn try to shut down a black trans woman. On the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
So, y’all, get up! Find your rage. Find your rage and listen to the fucking people who’ve been telling us *for years* that we’re not doing enough and understand that we’re not fucking doing enough.

I’m gonna try to do this, and I suck at Facebook. I want y’all to see where I’m standing right now. [Shows the pier and people walking behind]

That’s the Hudson River. I’m standing at Pier 45, and right down over here, right down over here. [crosses sidewalk and aims down at the water] This is where they found Marsha. That’s where they found Marsha. Right in here.


There we go. So, yeah. The Stonewall Inn tried to shut down a black trans woman on the 50th Anniversary. If that doesn’t make you mad, I don’ wanna fuckin know you. I don’t. Cause that better make you mad- it made me mad as hell.

It took a hundred and fifty of us, at our loudest, to get a black trans woman 12 minutes on a Stonewall microphone. That’s just not okay.

But we got it.

It is possible to do this shit. It is possible for us to go back and get our sisters, because we forgot them.

Well, I haven’t forgotten them. Not for a second. And I will put my pale ass body in between black trans women and oppressors any fucking day. Any day! You call me up, I will put it there. I don’t care!

Happy Pride. Do Better.


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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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