Interview with an Actual Stonewall Veteran

Williams, Cristan

Publisher: {Publisher:6}




This is an interview with Roy McCarthy, a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall riots–the event which served as a major catalyst for the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. In it, he discusses how the whole community (particularly trans folk, who are often excluded from official narratives about the event) came together to fight back against the explicitly oppressive NYPD raid on an establishment with a great degree of significance to the local LGBTQ+ community. This text’s relevance to my overall text set is obvious, the LGBTQ+ liberation movement ought to be an essential part of any story about civil rights in the US and, as such, a primary source about perhaps the single most foundational event of that movement is absolutely necessary. Additionally, teaching about Stonewall from the perspective of McCarthy–a “regular” person, not a pseudo-messianic “hero” archetype–will hopefully go far to subvert the “great man” theory that most history curriculum propagate. Finally, I have little doubt that I could engage most my students with this text; McCarthy is a talented narrator and I think most students will find it difficult to not empathize with his story.

With this said, this text is likely to resonate particularly strongly with my LGBTQ+ students. Unfortunately, the struggle for Sexual/Gender Equity is often left out of orthodox historical narratives in the US and, as such, I feel that having LGBTQ+ voices included in my unit will likely be interpreted as an act of solidarity with them.


This interview is rated to be compatible with a 7th grade readability level and–given the authors informal tone and simple vocabulary/syntax–I think that score is perfectly reflective of the text. I suspect this text will be perfectly approachable for all of my students regardless of reading level. This is, perhaps, the most approachable text on my list, but it should be noted that McCarthy someitimes uses terminology and idioms which may be confusing for ELLs.

Use in and outside of class

I would assign this interview as individual reading; either as a homework assignment or as part of an in-class primary source analysis. The one possible exception to this would be in a class with ELLs who may not have spent sufficient time in the US to be accustomed to the aforementioned idioms. if this is the case, assigning this text as group work may be the best option. Overall, this is easy to read, engaging, and informative. Of everything in this text set, I think this one is perhaps the easiest to justify.

Unit Focus


Submitted by Mitch Linde

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