In this special series, LGBT celebrities and public figures talk to Tim Teeman about the Stonewall Riots and their legacy—see more here.
Judy Gold is a comedian, actor, writer, host, and “big mouth.”
When and how did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of them?
I knew about the Stonewall Riots as a teenager, but I had no real comprehension of how much it impacted our community until I was in college. After I graduated, I moved to NYC and I would perform a lot at The Duplex in the West Village.
I would often walk by the Stonewall Inn and see signs up about HIV/AIDS fund raisers, demonstrations, and petitions. It was an especially terrifying, anxious, and profoundly sad time for our community.
I would always stop in front, I still do, just to take a moment to think about what had transpired on the very sidewalk where I stood. My awe never fades for the brave LGBT people who took a stand and said, “Enough already! We are not third-class citizens, and we are no longer going to put up with being treated as if we are.”
What is their significance for you?
They remain a seminal moment in our community’s history. Those who put their lives on the line so that we could live our lives with dignity will remain heroes forever. I wish those we lost could come back now and see how far we’ve come and how their perseverance was not for naught. We must never allow our community to forget the sacrifices that were made so that we could be out and proud.
How far have LGBT people come since 1969?
I turned 7 at the end of that year, and yes, I knew I was gay. I also knew I could never tell anyone, and if I did, my life would be over. I had no capacity to even comprehend that there would come a time when I would be able to marry a woman and have a family.
It still blows me away me every single time I think about Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer getting engaged in 1967. (It was Edie Windsor’s case that led to the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.)
The fact that they even entertained the possibility of gay marriage still stupefies me. Just think about that. We’re talking about a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental illness, and these two exceptional women decide that their relationship is just as valid as that of a husband and wife. Thank you!!
What would you like to see LGBT-wise in the next 50 years?
In the next 50 years, what I mostly want to see LGBT-wise is the obsolescence of assumptions.
Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if we didn’t have to explain our lives or come out to people ever again? Just think what it would be like not have to hear questions like, “Oh, I see you reserved a king-size bed, would you like to switch to two queens?” “Are you two sisters?” “Is his father tall too?” or “Oh, I just met another woman with a son named Henry, do you know her?”
Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here