The First Stone

Yesterday afternoon I participated in a roundtable discussion commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots. My paper, below, attempted to think with the grain of an unusual echo in a phrase of Sylvia Rivera’s, in an essay/statement she published in 1972. At the core of the very short essay is an attempt to reckon with a couple of historiographical problems. First, with the attempt that we witness in the present to erase trans history entirely - an attempt that has forced trans people apart from the rest of the LGBTQ community in a number of places. And second, with the attempt to install Stonewall as a singular origin point for an American national narrative of gay civil rights - an installation that simplifies the event, its origins, and its immediate consequences. I will say that the rise of terfism as a political force is quite frightening to witness, and a lot of my time at MLA has been looking at the complete absence of trans women, and experiencing just a deep sense that the conference has been, in no way, organized on the basis that trans people might show up. We will keep showing up, though, and keep telling stories like this one. Love and solidarity to all in these very disturbing times.

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