The dancing and partying was on at the Stonewall Inn when the raid and ensuing riots occurred the early morning of June 28, 1969, yet it was 38 years later in 2007 when I realized the historic significance of the uprising. I had to "come out" publicly as an openly gay man in order to tell my story. I joined the Stonewall Democrats of New York the same year.
I was invited by American Experience and the producers of the "Stonewall Uprising" PBS Documentary, Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, on April 21, 2011 to share my story as a Stonewall participant (pbs.org: 1969 Stonewall participant April 26,2011 and March 19, 2013).
The Stonewall was the only gay dancing bar that I was a frequent patron because of its proximity to where I lived near Greenwich Village. I was still in the closet and fearful of exposure because of my job. I was a 28 year old patron of the Stonewall when it was raided and the ensuing riots occurred.
The Stonewall became historically important to the LGBT community after playing a key role during the Gay Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Stonewall riots ignited a revolution which projected New York's role in the forefront when the Stonewall patrons said, "enough is enough, we are not going." Eventually, the high courts struck down California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Windsor v. United States as unconstitutional.
On June 24, 2011, I was standing outside the Stonewall Inn, in full view of the lit neon sign, taking "selfies" with my camera when news of same-sex marriage became law in New York State. A nice young woman, who was there, volunteered to take more photos for me. One of the best photos that she took was a close-up of me and the manager of the Stonewall Inn, who was standing in the background near the entrance smoking his cigar, nonchalantly. Soon the media arrived, and the Victory celebration began.