S.V.A (Stonewall Veterans Association)
For my presentation I am working off the reading we did for class which was by Che Gossett called Silhouettes of Defiance. It basically covers a few of the historical sites of queer and transgender resistance. Stonewall was an example of this resistance so I thought it was perfect to relate the reading to its main focus and choose the S.V.A.
The S.V.A is an association that’s sole purpose is to help all veterans that were involved in the stonewall riots of 1969. None the less they help many others that are part of the LBGT community
Even though the Stonewall Rebellion took place in 1969 — not 1869 — the rebellion was not photographed or filmed by the media because they deemed it “unimportant”. Unless a treasure trove of forgotten images is one day unearthed, there will be endless speculation of what exactly occurred during those five, inconsecutive, steamy nights and early morning hours. We must preserve the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (“GLBT”) heritage we have before it is significantly and irrevocably lost!
The STONEWALL Veterans’ Association (“S.V.A.”) positively and proudly represents Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender (“GLBT”) history and culture. The Executive Committee of the S.V.A. consists exclusively of actual participants in the historic 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. The S.V.A. focuses our multi-dimensional and diverse organization as a viable group of Gay men, Lesbian women, Bi folks and Transgender people. We strive for the facts and challenge the inaccuracies.
The S.V.A. delivers the following:
(5) outreach as our primary purposes.
Therefore, to educate, for example, we provide, on a regular and reliable basis, unquestionably unique, invaluable and factual information to individuals, groups, public officials, organizations and institutions via various means including mailings, phone calls, promotions and guest speakers. An expanded purpose under our rainbow umbrella of support consisits of homecare assistance, legal advice and financial support to help keep all of the actual Stonewall veterans active, healthy and united.
Ensure that the STONEWALL Vetrerans’ Association continues to be a significant, visible and activist force in the New York City area and far beyond.
Allocate funds to assist Veterans of the Stonewall Rebellion who are indigent and need financial assistance with shelter, medical care, utilities, food, transportation, etc.
Creation of a free or low-cost food/clothing collective for the needy in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (“GLBT”) communities.
Preserve our colorful and varied history by updating our archives consisting of videos and audio tapes and, of course, photographs and images of Stonewall Veterans and other notables of the GLBT communities.
Maintain a consistent, strong, persistent and unified voice in politics and the media.
The S.V.A. is registered with the State of New York Charities Bureau.
“Search” enter: STONEWALL Veterans’ Association or S.V.A.
SVA relates so perfectly with the course during this time we are talking about history and resistance for queer and transgender. It was interesting for me to find the SVA and see how recent and long they have kept their association together they still have meetings today and are constantly trying to help support any LBGT members of their community.
I think this organization helps illustrate our course discussion very well. It lets us take a view into something that I don’t know too much about and has really opened my eyes that even though there are so many organizations and events referring to the LQBT community there is still a long way to go with not only their rights but being heard.
For more information:
Thanks for the information–I actually don’t think I ever remember hearing about the Stonewall Veterans Association. Reading this post and hearing your presentation in class brought up many questions for me about the SVA and Stonewall, in general. In class, we have been reading about the exclusion (or invisibility) in public arenas of the most vulnerable folks that fall under the “LGBTQ+” umbrella such as transgender folks with disabilities, transgender women of color, undocumented transgender folks, among more. Although I think SVA is important, I was a little turned off by their “purpose” statement and their website. Among the list of ‘biggest legends’ of Stonewall posted on their website, very few people of color are visible, especially transgender people of color. Their website is very colorful, full of rainbows and not easy to navigate. Although reasons for this can be lack of HTML knowledge or resources, this website is not accessible for those with epilepsy or other disorders. Also, as we have learned in class, critical trans politics challenges many heteronormative, gay and lesbian organizations that tend to only cater to elite, privileged white folks. Many organizations like these use rainbows as a symbol to unite “LGBTQ” people; I know many marginalized queer and transgender people who do not identify with the “rainbow”. Additionally, the SVA constantly refer to themselves as “We, the Gay people” who led the “Gay civil rights rebellion,” completely leaving out the majority of the community they seek to serve. I would challenge their purpose of seeking “accurate” information of what happened at Stonewall and ask–how do they choose what is ‘accurate’ and what is not? Who decides this? As much as these archives are essential, the SVA does not state they seek for information by the many excluded radical queer and transgender activists who are constantly erased from Stonewall history–such as Miss Major. As we have also talked about in class, Foucault’s texts has shown us how the production of knowledge forms many systems of power. If SVA seeks to educate and give “factual information” to various institutions–we must also question how this knowledge is being used and what institutions its serving. Instead of donating to SVA (as they seem to hope visitors do), I would watch the documentary MAJOR! about the continuous trans activist and community activist, Miss Major. This way, we can hear voices from Stonewall Veterans themselves–especially those voices that still are not heard enough.
I was surprised to know that Stonewall riot used to be seen unimportant, since I’ve seen the word “Stonewall” a lot of times in several articles we read throughout the semester. Now I think I can tell that this movement like the activities S.V.A has being contributing, in which people try to keep the memory alive is pretty new. Stonewall’s riot, along with the riot of Compton’s cafeteria, played the role of “trigger” that encouraged LGBT people to stand up, speak up, and fight against unreasonable harassments.
As I look up the records what happened in this riot, I could find many stories and rumors telling quite different things. For example there are two strong theories how the riot was started. One insists that one transgender woman threw a beer bottle to a police officer when she got mad at him pushed her by his truncheon. The other one insists that it started when a lesbian resisted to put in a patrol car and went on a rampage. These inexactitude and ambiguity resulted from the social attitude, which underestimated the queer activities at that time, as you mentioned, regarding that there were many other excessive movements frequently happened back then such as liberation campaign of African Americans, opposition campaign against Vietnam war, which were considered more important politically and socially than the discrimination against homosexual or transsexual people.
I think the way how a historical event is remembered in the later period of time matters a lot especially for some particular purposes. When it doesn’t include trustable information or strong evidence, that event may fail to make people recall what it meant and what kind of influence it had t the society.
Although the affair was not the biggest concern for majority of people from the beginning, after the Stonewall’s riot, people started to raise their attention toward LGBT community and their culture and many queer related activities became aggressive such as the establishment or supportive organizations for homosexual people, LGBT pride parade. I hope the memory of Stonewall’s riot kept alive as they hold very important facts in the history of homosexual people through the activity of S.V.A.