Mark Segal Interview
Excerpt from an interview with Mark Segal, remembering Stonewall:
MS: Yes, yes, I do… uh …first you gotta remember I had only been in New York for about six weeks. And so I was new to all of that. I mean within six weeks I really immersed myself in it. I was on Christopher Street every night if not in Stonewall every night. So -- I don’t even remember if they were open every night. But I am sixty-six now and the memories are what they are for a sixty-six year old, but that night is very clear for anybody who was there I remember being in the bar. I remember the lights flashing. I remember asking somebody [I don’t remember who] “what does that mean?” And someone said “Oh were just going to be raided!” And everybody who was a regular there took that very nonchalant. They were just used to it cause that was part of what life was like for gay people at that point. Me on the other hand had never been through a raid. I tried to look nonchalant but I gotta tell you its not --[laughs] I was very nervous. Now I look like the guy next door. So the first thing the police did when they came through the door was they harassed the queens as much as they could. They extorted money from the people who looked like they had decent jobs and then they started carding people to let people out. I look like the, as I said, I look like the boy next door. They had no use for me. They couldn’t get money out of me. They didn’t care about people like me. So I was one of the first to be let out. Um and I was curious of course so I went across the street to watch all this. And at one point Marty came up and said, “what’s going on?” And I said, “Oh, it’s a raid.” Trying to act nonchalant again. Uh and he said oh basically Oh another raid this has to end. He went and got chalk and came back and made a suggestion but that was later in the evening. As people were coming out they started forming a semi circle around the door and that eventually and as the police let out more and more people at one point the only people left in the bar or most of the people left in the bar were the people that worked there and the police. At which point people just started throwing things at the door. Um, ah [sigh] that’s basically when people started breaking things, running up and down the street. Some windows were broken. People took things out of the windows. my funniest recollection of it is someone put a dress on the Sheridan statue in Sheridan Square.
MS: Um and personally the best recollection, somewhere during the middle of this… [sigh] this circus of amazing colors and lights and people running I’m just looking at the door and saying to myself somewhere thanks to my grandmother who taught me this, um “African Americans can fight for their rights, Latinos can fight for their rights, women can fight for their rights, what about us?” And I think it was -- and all of that was in a second an instant maybe-- I decided at that point um that’s
what I’d be doing the rest of my life -- and there wasn’t anything, any job description, or I didn’t even know what that meant. I just thought I’d end up being poor, um you know-- a vagrant fighting for gay liberation whatever that might be. I had no idea even what that meant. I don’t think any of us did. But thanks to people like Martha Shelley thanks to people who, in the next four nights helped to create Gay Liberation Front, we began to build that. And I was lucky enough to be a part of that. Um, so when people today ask me what University I went to my stock answer is I went to GLF.