This past June 2009 marked the 40th
anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion/riot that led to our forming of the
first militant political gay lib organizations.
Due to my high profile at Sage and the LGBT
community center I was sought out by many media venues for
I do enjoy doing the interviews as I feel it is extremely important
that the few of us that are left from back then tell the history as we
remember it to be.
On the day of the March,June 28Th I surprisingly was invited to a
reception at the white house to be held in honor of the 40th anniversary by President and
Mrs Obama the next day
June 29Th. As a history and political buff I confess it was a very
heady experience for me to be inside the White House.
The day was quite amazing and was to be topped off by a speech
was to give to
us in the East Room in which he was to thank us and honor
the anniversary. Approximately 250 leaders of the gay movement
past,present and hopefully future were invited and attended the reception
and the Presidents
address. I took the picture below of the White House
When we arrived at The White House that day it was unclear if any of us
would get to meet the President.
We were told at first there was to be a reception line in which we
could shake hands and have a quick word with the President and Mrs Obama...but
disappointingly we were told that due to the large number of attendees the
reception line woul be
impractical due to time constraints. The rumor had
it that just a few,perhaps 10 of us would get to personally meet the
President. I did not think for a minute I would be one of the few
singled out for that meeting.
I was somewhat disappointed but at the same time was thrilled to be
inside the White House mingling with the gay leaders,marine guards and
Champagne and little snacks and pastries were served at the reception
and then we were all led through big wooden doors to the famous East Room
President would deliver his speech to us. Amazingly the small
contingent from Sage that I was with managed to position ourselves right
directly in front of the
podium with the Presidential seal were the speech would be
given. About 15 minutes before the scheduled speech one
of the Sage staff called to me and asked
that I follow her. I balked at giving up my perfect spot to go and
do what I thought was a request for an interview by the media but
reluctantly gave up my spot
and went in the direction I was directed too. I was stunned and in
complete shock when I was informed I was to be one of the ten or so of us
that would personally
have a short meeting with The President. It seems I was one of
only 2 attendees at the event that was actually a participants at
Stonewall some 40 years earlier
and that is why I was to get in to meet the President. I
was led into another room where I met my very old friend Tommy Schmidt who
was the other actual
Stonewall participant,we were to meet the President and Mrs Obama together. Tommy and I stood
waiting to be led into the meeting and we marveled at thinking
about how unimaginable it would have been 40 years ago on those dark
bitter nights and times that 40 years later it would lead to us meeting
the President of the United States...
As we walked into the room President Obama
warmly grasped our hands and said "thank You I am very proud of what
you did back then...my response was "Thank You
Mr President we are proud of what you are doing now". The rest
is sort of blurry and I will write more about it eventually in my QueerviewUniverse group.
I had asked the aid how to properly address Mrs Obama,was it "Ma'am?
The said she prefers to be called Mrs Obama.
She also was extremely warm grasping my hand with her two in a very
caring type gesture.
We had maybe a minute or two with the first couple during which the
official White House photographer took our pictures.
I had insisted that I would be allowed to wear my Sage tee shirt for
this very formal event and had no problem doing so.
Below is the photo,Michelle,Tommy,Me and the President....Quite an