A warm welcome to author Michael Rupured joining us today here at Love Bytes
Welcome Michael 🙂
Things I Never Knew About the Stonewall Riots
In Happy Independence Day, my new release from DSP Publications. Philip Potter and several of his friends from No Good Deed (the second Philip Potter Story) travel to New York City for a weekend getaway that lands them in the middle of the 1969 Stonewall riots. I didn’t know much about the uprising going into this project, and much of what I knew was wrong.
I had no idea the Stonewall Inn was owned and operated by the Mafia. Rather than a bar, it was a private bottle club on paper where members supposedly brought their own booze. Status as a private bottle club and well-placed bribes kept the club open when many gay establishments had been shuttered for violating alcohol regulations.
The Stonewall Inn was worse than a dive. The bathroom plumbing barely worked and both bars lacked running water. Watered down drinks were served in glasses rinsed in buckets of water, leading to several outbreaks of hepatitis. The same black-painted plywood the bars and benches along the walls had been made from covered the windows.
The Stonewall Inn was the only place in NYC where same-sex couples could dance, and about the only gay establishment that hadn’t been shut down. Serving alcohol to homosexuals was illegal in NYC. The Mafia stepped in to fill the void.
Bribes guaranteed advance notice before pro forma raids scheduled for times when business was slow. The surprise raid that launched the Stonewall riots was conducted on a busy Friday night by a secret task force charged with running the Mafia out of town. The goal was to interrupt the revenue stream by shutting the place down, if not forever then at least one or two of the busiest night of the week.
The small raiding party’s rough treatment of a drag queen and a lesbian who resisted arrest ignited the riots. On the first of four nights of rioting, the police barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn to escape the angry mob. The next night, determined not to be humiliated again, an army of police were dispatched to keep the streets clear of pedestrians. Again, police brutality incited more rioting and were once more overwhelmed.
These interesting tidbits provided great fodder for my story within a story. Philip and company land on the wrong side of the Mafia just as the riots break out when they agree to help Cameron McKenzie escape from New York, ending his part in a scheme to blackmail the men who pay him for sex.
Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. Little does he know the world is already changing, and his part in it won’t be what he expects. A prelaw student at Columbia University, Terrence’s interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie, the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn. Too bad Cameron bolts whenever Terrence looks his way.
College dropout Cameron McKenzie left tiny Paris, Kentucky, with dreams of a career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he prostitutes himself to survive. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes. He’s in over his head with no way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve cement shoes and a swim in the Hudson.
Terrence finally confronts Cameron, and they return to the Stonewall Inn during another police raid. But this time the patrons aren’t going quietly. While Terrence sees his chance to stand beside his friends and stand up for his beliefs, Cameron sees the distraction of the riots as an opportunity to escape—even if it means walking away from the only man he’s ever loved.
Michael Rupured joined the Athens Writers Workshop in 2010 and has since published four novels: Until Thanksgiving in 2012, After Christmas Eve in 2013 (rereleased as No Good Deed in 2016), Happy Independence Day (a 2014 Rainbow Award runner up rereleased in 2016) and Whippersnapper (January 2016). He’s on the faculty of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia and has received numerous awards for financial education programs he’s developed over the last thirty years for youths and low-income families and served in a variety of leadership roles at the state and national level. Visit his blog (http://rupured.com), follow him on Twitter (@crotchetyman) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelRupured), or send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.