"I do good to be here. Most girls don't make it past 30. It's a rough life that we have, so it's important that one or two of us make it. It's hard. It's very hard when you think about it...God, I want to start traveling again. I want him to go places and get to know the girls that are out there. I hear about stuff on this Zoom thing, but I don't get to touch them with my hands. That's what I miss a lot, being there for them. Let them see and touch me. I'm alive. There aren't that many Black girls still alive. Let them know that they can get here too."
"[Gay Activists Alliance] were a radical organization. We weren't good boys. We were bad boys and we wanted to be bad boys. And therefore we were out there not dressed nicely, but dressed in ordinary clothes to make as much trouble as possible. What Frank [Kameny] and his group wanted to do was knock on the door of society and say, 'Let us in. Oh, please let us in.' What the radical movement in the early '70s did was not to say that we want to knock on the door. We wanted to fucking break it down."
"When we gathered at the steps of Stonewall, that was illegal. Homosexuals could not congregate together. That was illegal. When we said we were going to fight the police, that was illegal. Everything we did in that first year was basically illegal. And we wouldn't be stopped. We were going to be out, loud, proud, and don't even try to stop us."
"I'm not seeing anyone of color do the things that I have done and sign contracts. It's only been my white counterpart who are working, who are doing the shows, who are on the covers of major magazines...I'm 68 years old. I'm proud to have lived this long and still being relevant. It amazes me that people were still having a conversation about Tracey Africa. It really does, it just amazes me."
"If you just step us back a few paces and look at the history of our movement, it's a very short history. There there were things that happened before the 1960s, but really, what we call the LGBTQ community is really only about a half century old. So, we can look at this and we can think, Well, my goodness, the lives of the people we now call the LGBTQ have really been transformed in the last 50 years.
We've gone from a criminal class to largely accepted in most of the Western world, marriage equality, protection from any forms of discrimination, much less violence, no longer considered mentally ill. Our lives have really been transformed...One can only imagine how dramatically our lives will be transformed in the next 50."
"I find death is a big waste of time when you could be alive doing something. But I'm getting used to the idea. I really do think it's a waste of time. I swear to God, I do. It makes no sense to me. If you're a productive human being, why do you have to leave?"
"The streets were just yelling. It felt so empowering to be able to yell at a cop and not get beat up. Just to yell at them and scream at them and throw things at them and see them scared. You could see it in their eyes that they were scared. And it must have surprised them that they were scared of a bunch of gay people, like 'What the hell?'...I look back that one little moment, even though we didn't like each other or get along with each other maybe, for that one moment in time, we all came together to say, 'Enough is enough. You got to stop. You have to stop beating us. You have to stop arresting us. You just have to stop and let us live.'"
"I was a boy who didn't want to be Officer Clemmons because the police were very brutal. They shot Black boys in the back. They strung them up. Everybody was against you. I knew about police brutality...I've lived to see gay people standing up, standing tall, and saying, 'You can not push me anymore. I've been pushed enough.' Because of the Christian indoctrination that I received, I never imagined that gay people were going to stand up for themselves like that."
"I got into the fray [at Stonewall] on Saturday night...I'm an original Black Panther. I had been in the Black Panther Party, me and my kids. And so, no, I didn't have any fear. All I thought about was like, 'Hey, we're finally gonna have our liberation one way or the other.' That's where my head was."
"It's part of the queer experience, right? We are the Michelangelos of dark humor and we would not have gotten through those years if it weren't for that. If we didn't decide from the get-go that we were going to burn the candle at both ends: do our activism full-on, but at the same time, passionately live like we've never lived before. There is no way we could have gotten through the tragedy that was those years, the constant memorials and the loss of friends and lovers and the hospital visits that were unrelenting. The emotional damage that we were accruing. The PTSD that we eventually all suffered. There's no way we would've gotten through that without a heavy dose of sex, love, humor, community. It was a surreal existence."