“Looking out over the huge crowd, I felt a release of all my old anger, fear and sadness— and immense relief. “Look at how many of us there are!” I shouted to my comrades. At that moment I felt the beginnings of a community, and realized that as a group we could have tremendous power.” — Bockman
Bockman grew up in the Midwest in the 1940s, where he realized around age five that he must never tell anyone about being gay. He first met other gay men at the University of Michigan in 1960. He remembers that one wrote him a love letter, which his mother found “on one of her cleaning binges”. His parents made him go to the school’s psychiatrist, with whom he shared “a glance of instinctive recognition”. After that appointment, he remembers beginning to feel more confident. He was outed to the dean of the college and told not to bother re-registering for classes. After being outed, he moved to New York City in 1963. There, he met other gay people who felt the same anger and defiance he did, and he remembers a spirit of rebellion permeating the whole of the Village.
He was twenty seven when he walked past the Stonewall Inn to see people coming out. He and his friends ran through the streets, encouraging people to come out into the streets and join the rebellion. In the following years, he would go on to become a psychologist, and he was married to his husband just a few weeks before the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. They live in Pennsylvania, and he works in New York and still visits the Stonewall regularly.
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