Fay Jacobs said she and Michael Gilles had two goals in creating “Voices from Stonewall,” a dramatic reading of stories recounting the Stonewall Uprising.
First, said Jacobs, they wanted to educate people about events that led up to the uprising as well as the uprising itself, a series of clashes between police and gay rights activists outside the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Second, she said, they wanted to raise money for CAMP Rehoboth.
After two sold-out shows June 22, Jacobs said the mission was a success. “I’m happy to say it was a really mixed audience,” she said. Jacobs said she felt compelled to do something to mark the 50th anniversary of the uprising, which took place June 28, 1969.
Jacobs directed the performance, and said she and Gilles had long wanted to work on a project together. Joining Gilles on stage for the performances were his wife, Sally Gilles, Eloise Ullman and Max Dick.
Staged in CAMP Rehoboth’s Baltimore Avenue home, the hours-long show began with the four actors singing along to Bob Dylan’s “Times They are a Changin’.” Then they moved through attacks suffered by the LBGTQ community leading up to the uprising, describing black-balled homosexuals who lost their jobs and were labeled as having a mental disorder as well as the deaths of gay men whose murders were labeled “excusable.” They talked about the involvement of Rehoboth’s Barbara Gittings, a longtime activist for LBGTQ rights at the national level.
The actors also read historical accounts of the uprising itself, from the moment the police entered the bar, to the moment the young, homeless, gay men and women, and drag queens fought back in the streets.
The actors didn’t give names to the quotes they read; they moved quickly from one to the next. “We never gave much thought to it being a turning point,” said one.
“That night our invisibility gave way to resistance,” read another.
Jacobs said everyone was excited how quickly the project came together, noting with a laugh there had been only four dress rehearsals.
Jacobs was 20 years old and living in New York at the time of the uprising, but she said she hadn’t yet come out, and she wasn’t too aware of what happened at the time. Later, after coming out, she said, she read much more about Stonewall because she wanted to know the history of her new community.
“It’s important to teach it to young people, so they know where their rights have come from,” said Jacobs.
Upcoming pride-themed events
“Voices of Stonewall” is not the only event taking place to celebrate Stonewall and the LBGTQ community.
For children, there is Pride Storytime at Rehoboth Public Library, 226 Rehoboth Ave. This event takes place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 29, and sponsored by CAMP Rehoboth. For more information call 227-8044.
For adults, Rehoboth Beach Museum, 511 Rehoboth Ave., will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the signing of Senate Bill 121, which provides protection against discrimination for LBGTQ community in Delaware.
This event takes place from 5:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, July 2, and will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For more information, go to www.rehobothbeachmuseum.org or call 302-227-7310.