Announcing the Stonewall National Monument
June 24, 2016 9:19 AM   Subscribe

"I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s national parks system. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country – the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one." - President Barack Obama posted by roomthreeseventeen (59 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's to all the decades of tireless and barely noticed at the time activism by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

This makes me proud, but also it is a somber reminder of a past that's never far enough from the present.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:24 AM on June 24, 2016 [25 favorites]


Pinkwashing, ugh, ugh, ugh, christ, ugh.
posted by beefetish at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can't tell from the links or even a brief googling, what is the actual thing here? Is it that the Stonewall Inn itself will become a National Park? Or is there a monument that was built and it will become a National Park? Was it the white statues they showed in the videos? Or a monument will be built and become a National Park?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:39 AM on June 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Top of the first non-video link:
On June 24, 2016 President Obama made history by declaring the area around the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, a national monument.
posted by phearlez at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


National Park =/= National Monument
posted by craven_morhead at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


All the good things are also bad now. Was that always true?
posted by allthinky at 9:42 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Was it the white statues they showed in the videos?

Here is the background on those statues, FYI.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


From the FAQ sheet, which includes items like

Q: I thought all national parks were places like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. How can Stonewall be a national park?

A: America’s more than 400 national park sites include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

Q; Does the National Park Service own the bar?

A: No. The bar will remain privately owned and operated.

Q: Does the National Park Service own everything in Christopher Park?

A: In the case of Stonewall, the National Park Service will own Christopher Park. The Stonewall Inn bar will continue to be privately owned. The bar can be included in the interpretation for telling the full story of Stonewall, as could be the surrounding streets where the protests took place.
posted by phearlez at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


“An apology, I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s necessary. The apology is all that’s occurred since then.”

What a classic shit sandwich response.
posted by blucevalo at 9:45 AM on June 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


It is possible to still be very critical of the United States government on LGBT issues and still think this is great and cry at the video linked here. ASK ME HOW!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:45 AM on June 24, 2016 [69 favorites]


National Park =/= National Monument

They're established differently but they're run by the same people and in the same way. Also spelled out in the FAQ I linked above.
posted by phearlez at 9:45 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is positive.

And...god, the literal whitewashed statues are so. so awful.
posted by odinsdream at 9:49 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I guess maybe I don't quite understand what a monument means in this context. I'm thinking of a monument as being a thing -- a towering obelisk, a statue -- rather than a place. But it seems like the monument is not the Inn, and also isn't the statues, but is just kind of the not-yet-determined area around the Inn? Is that correct?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:52 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have a lot of mixed feelings about this, but I also feel like it would have meant a lot to me as a kid, not because it "represents" me, but because it's a public marker in the "official" discourse that at the very least it isn't the unspoken, neutral position to despise GLBTQ people. It would have changed how I understood my family's attitudes if I had seen them as in opposition to something "official". That's not the same as changing anyone's material circumstances, but it would have been something.

I definitely grew up feeling like "normal" people would always officially hate queer people, that this was the default state of the world and that anything I did, said or understood about myself had to be in that context. I never felt conflicted about who I was, per se, but I have always, always had a feeling that the world is my enemy and that other people are ipso facto not safe. Again, the idea that maybe plenty of people hate queers but at least that is a marked position, not the default position, would have been something.
posted by Frowner at 9:59 AM on June 24, 2016 [34 favorites]


The word "monument" is used very loosely in this regard. Grand Staircase is a 1,880,461-acre "National Monument" for instance. I believe National Parks need an act of congress to be established. Monuments only need a Presidential proclamation. Sort of like law vs. regulation.

This is great, but I find it interesting to reflect on the fact that President Obama began his first term against gay marriage.
posted by tempestuoso at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Here's to all the decades of tireless and barely noticed at the time activism by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I didn't know Marsha P. Johnson but I was lucky enough to meet Sylvia and work with her in SexPanic! and other groups, and she has so much been on my mind the past few weeks.

She was just so fierce. The first time I met her was on a picket line, and the first and loudest voice I heard was hers. "Wow!" I thought. "Who was that?" And then somebody schooled me and it immediately made sense.

She didn't take shit from anybody--she even got banned from the Center (the Lesbian,Gay, BiSexual and Transgender Community Center, though they weren't calling it all that yet back then) here in New York. It didn't matter who you were--if Sylvia had a problem with you, you were going to hear about it.

I miss her.
posted by layceepee at 10:01 AM on June 24, 2016 [20 favorites]


jacquilynne: A national monument is not a thing but an area that's proclaimed by presidents. The first national monument was Devil's Tower. It's actually all pretty interesting when you look at the list.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:01 AM on June 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


Q; Does the National Park Service own the bar?

A: No. The bar will remain privately owned and operated.


i mean really? i kind of almost DO want to live in the world where smokey the bear is responsible for the operation of a historic gay bar.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2016 [71 favorites]


i kind of almost DO want to live in the world where smokey the bear is responsible for the operation of a historic gay bar.

A little too on the nose, don't you think?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:14 AM on June 24, 2016 [37 favorites]


i kind of almost DO want to live in the world where smokey the bear is responsible for the operation of a historic gay bar.

Can the bartenders at least wear the cool ranger hats?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:21 AM on June 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks to those who have helped explain, and my apologies if I distracted from discussions of the significance of the announcement with my focus on what the actual thing is.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:23 AM on June 24, 2016


A small dose of good news today.
posted by SansPoint at 10:38 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


That out of many, we are one.

That's a nice sentiment, maybe we could make it our national motto or something. How you say that in Latin?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2016 [16 favorites]


A little too on the nose, don't you think?

as an american gay i would like to know that my natural habitat is being federally protected by a large uniformed furry
posted by poffin boffin at 10:49 AM on June 24, 2016 [54 favorites]


poffin boffin as an american gay i would like to know that my natural habitat is being federally protected by a large uniformed furry

Not just any furry, a bear
posted by SansPoint at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


Intellectually I understand this is a good thing. (Also understand erased complexities, multiple identities, etc., but still a net good).

Emotionally every gain for queers creates nothing as much as more cognitive dissonance for me.
posted by latkes at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is a second cast of of those white statues on the Stanford campus. They had been intended as a gift to the city of Los Angeles, but were refused. In the first ten years that they were present at Stanford, they were repeatedly vandalized.

I attended Stanford as an undergrad in the late 80s/early 90s, when this sculpture was still hotly controversial and while the vandalism was a regular occurrence. Just last weekend, I was bicycling around campus with my boyfriend, giving him an informal tour. As we were approaching this statue, I stopped him a little ways away and said, "This shocking artwork displaying explicit homosexual content was a site of controversy and vandalism during my undergrad years."

Then we got closer and he stood there, totally perplexed. "That one guy has his hand on the other guy's shoulder?" he said, mystified. "That's... two women? A hand on her leg, a hand on her hand? Shocking? Explicit?"

I said, "Yep."

We've come a long way.

Hate on them for whitewashing, I guess that's fair. But they did their part and I sure appreciate them. Now that I live on the east coast, I keep meaning to visit their counterparts in NYC. I love the idea that I could get a National Monument souvenir t-shirt.
posted by Sublimity at 11:32 AM on June 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Can't wait to get a stamp in my National Parks Passport for Stonewall!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2016 [18 favorites]


Obama also added a site for women's suffrage earlier this year.
New U.S. National Monument Is First To Honor Women’s Equality
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
posted by Foam Pants at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


I understand the accusation of "whitewashing", regarding the statues; but, beefetish, can you clarify what is the source of the "pinkwashing" you're referring to? I sincerely don't understand - usually I've only heard "pinkwashing" to refer to companies that produce pink-colored everything during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and then do fuck-all else.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Wiki link mentions CISwashing, which I'm not able to process.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2016


"Pinkwashing" in this case refers to using claims of support for LGBT people as political cover. It's most often used with regards to Israel and Palestine. See Sarah Schulman's op-ed published in the NY Time in 2011, Israel and 'Pinkwashing'.
posted by larrybob at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Then we got closer and he stood there, totally perplexed. "That one guy has his hand on the other guy's shoulder?" he said, mystified. "That's... two women? A hand on her leg, a hand on her hand? Shocking? Explicit?"

This seems to be willfully obtuse. There is a long history of whitewashing what happened at Stonewall, erasing the contributions of POC and particularly Trans POC from the recognized history of what occurred. Making the deliberate choice to cast commemorative statues in white is tone-deaf, as is pretending the objections raised have much to do with the poses themselves.

Also, they're just so goddamn boring.
posted by odinsdream at 12:28 PM on June 24, 2016


(If you're talking about homophobic objections and vandalism, then that's a whole other thing.)
posted by odinsdream at 12:30 PM on June 24, 2016


(If you're talking about homophobic objections and vandalism, then that's a whole other thing.)

Yeah, the problem with those statues back then wasn't that they were insufficiently representative.
posted by Etrigan at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


The choice of the art is completely tone deaf given the erasure of Queer PoC, but OTOH white plaster is like, George Segal's thing you know, it was based on artistic reasons and I guess I'm having a hard time crapping on the sculptures cause I have an art degree and was raised on studying Segal and many many others?
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:32 PM on June 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


Also it's good to remember that the design is nearly 40 years old. I'm not saying that forgives PoC erasure but they are almost a historical artifact themselves these days.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:42 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not excusing the erasure, the bias was there in the decision to choose the aesthetic of Segal's work. But I will vigorously defend the importance of Segal's work as a midcentury modern artist.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:48 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


More on the nomenclature. In their terms a park usually includes multiple significant features. A monument protects an area with just a few significant features. In legal terms, the National Parks Service runs the site and can throw its weight (to some degree) when it comes to how neighboring properties are developed.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2016


I'm one of those bi women who married a dude and then felt all "I'm not queer enough" and stuff. But then I found out that my ex-girlfriend works at the the Stonewall, which give me super lesbian points, I think. And now it's a national park!
posted by Biblio at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


I had a tequila and a beer there not long ago (I'm straight but all the other bars around there are either restaurants or overpriced). I feel so historic. Or something.
posted by jonmc at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2016


"Pinkwashing" in this case refers to using claims of support for LGBT people as political cover.

gotcha.

In that case, still a sincere question - who or what is the entity being accused of pinkwashing here; Obama himself? 'Cos I'm thinking this is cool, but if there is some subtext I'm not understanding, lemme know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2016


I thought it referred to the actual bar and kinda loved the thought of it. I know some day I will log into metafilter and see it's been slated to become a Starbucks and... well.
posted by Iteki at 1:24 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I agree that there are problems of representation at Stonewall. On the other hand, this puts LGBTQ rights on a literal map of things my government considers important about its own history.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


Have a party, hug your loved ones, celebrate this moment— I'm not trying to deny anyone an ounce of comfort.

However, the erasure of POC is not an incidental oversight but instrumental. In what will soon be a majority-minority country, progress is either driven by people of color or comes at our exclusion. I'm not the only one that is tired of accepting nominal concessions in the absence of more meaningful change.
posted by I made this account so Matt could have a $5 beer at 2:32 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Wiki link mentions CISwashing, which I'm not able to process.

Ciswashing is trans erasure- like in that Roland Emmerich movie.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:07 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


To the extent that this recognizes the people who got off their asses and put their lives on the line in response to the insane levels of oppression at that time, I say huzzah.

To the extent that NatMons are about feelgood, though, not. Don't see Wounded Knee on that list.
posted by Twang at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2016


My perspective on this is that I realized my bisexuality in college in 1990. In order to understand the history I was a part of, I had three sources: a local lesbian bookstore, the overwhelming college library system, and oral history and culture from older gay and lesbian people. All of that was by LGBTQ people for LGBTQ people. Straights didn't go there, didn't browse that section, didn't support those publishers, mostly didn't listen to those conversations.

Sure, the NAMES Quilt occupied the National Mall for a few brief weeks, but that was a short-term event, and the nomadic nature of the Quilt was symbolic of our erasure from historic geography.

So for me, it's a step forward to bring our history out from LGBTQ oral and academic history, from LGBTQ presses and publications and onto the National Parks map. It's only a single step, and hopefully it will be followed by many more.

Plus, I admit a spiteful glee to be finally recognized to be as historically important as Ronald fucking Reagan.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:23 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Pinkwashing comment was referring specifically to the whole rainbow-NYPD-cop thing. In the wake of Orlando it seems like normie gays are doubling down on loving cops and the security state and it grosses me the fuck out

Re the monument, Frowner articulates my thoughts nicely upthread. I like things like this because they shift the default position away from hating queer people. Having a national park makes it clear that queer history is not just some weird freaky secret thing, it's an actual thing. Of course the people that made that history are still valued less, thrown away, die poor. But the fucking park is something. Sorry I'm bitter, hell yeah I am bitter.

As with almost everything else though the steadfast refusal to address or even acknowledge systemic fuckery that mires people in suffering vexes me but short of appending "PS Fuck Society" to everything i do and say IDK what to do anymore


PS: Fuck Society
posted by beefetish at 3:25 PM on June 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ciswashing is trans erasure

That makes sense, but how can sculpture do that?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:14 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


To the extent that NatMons are about feelgood, though, not. Don't see Wounded Knee on that list.

Not a monument, but it is a landmark. The "National Monuments" spots are only one category of places maintained by the National Parks Service - there are also the landmarks, like Wounded Knee, and there are also the National Parks, like Yosemite, and then there are the National Recreation Areas, which are a little more "user-friendly" - the natural resources are not quite as protected, and it's more of a set-aside place for outdoor activity. And then there's all the national seashores, rivers, grasslands, battlefields, lakeshores, trails...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:34 PM on June 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Heh. Here's another flip for you. Think of all the Hate group members that get old, reach retirement that decide to see every national park as part of their nationalistic bucket list. Enjoy our country's gay heritage!
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:32 AM on June 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's adorable that we still think the modern gay rights struggle started in 1969 in New York.
posted by sonascope at 5:32 AM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The modern gay rights struggle, sure. They started using the word "gay," for one.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:06 AM on June 25, 2016


Oh dear god, why did I look at the Youtube comments? The amount of "LGBTQ=mentally ill" in there made me physically ill. What the fuck is wrong with these people?
posted by Gaz Errant at 11:35 AM on June 25, 2016


Humanity -- it's in the DNA just like everything to the L, G, B, T and Q. We are not simple. There's more than better angels in our nature. Demons dwell there, too.
posted by y2karl at 4:01 PM on June 25, 2016


It's been an age since I read Sarah Schulman's The Sophie Horowitz Story, but IIRC she mentions the Segal statues as a specific example of trans/POC erasure.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:44 PM on June 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lol yeah the homophiles god I wonder why I'm not thrilled with them let me get back to you on that one
posted by beefetish at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2016


99% Invisible's podcast this week rebroadcasts, "Remembering Stonewall":
“Remembering Stonewall,” produced by Dave Isay of Sound Portraits and StoryCorps, was first broadcast in 1989, on the 20th anniversary of the riots. It was the first documentary, in any medium, to explore what happened that night, and it weaves together the perspectives of survivors, historians, and people who were deeply affected by the events. . . . Dave Isay of StoryCorps spoke with Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, who led the raid; to Sylvia Rivera, one of the drag queens who battled most fiercely that night; to Bruce Merrow and Geanne Harwood, a gay couple who have been together for 60 years; Jheri Faire, an 80-year-old lesbian; Randy Wicker, the first openly gay person to appear on television and radio; Joan Nestle, founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives; and yippie leader Jim Fouratt, who helped found the Gay Liberation Front on the third night of the Stonewall Riots.
posted by gladly at 8:45 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


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