“Every now and again, as you’re marching forward, turn around and wave back at us. We’re still here… Much the same way as I needed to acknowledge the shoulders that I stood on, I would like others to acknowledge us. We did a lot of work. And it wasn’t easy.” Last year, Stonewall vet, Fred Sargeant, told me all about his dear friend Ellen Broidy, one of the four founders of Pride. He was concerned about how media underplays (or ignores altogether) the contributions lesbians have made. Broidy tells me that since 2018, this has changed — that in the last few years, media has contacted her for interviews, lining up whenever Pride month rolls around. She says, “I feel like a bear that hibernates all winter, and then June comes, Pride month comes, and everyone is lined up in front of my den.”
And they should be lining up… Ellen Broidy, a Jewish lesbian shero from New York, holds the key to the past. A past that’s been aggressively revised over the last several years.
Armed with garbage bags, brooms and big mouths, we resisted the goons’ oppressive authority — our incredible moxie mirroring the rebellion at Stonewall. We had been beaten, risked serious injury and death for the privilege and joy of an all-women’s dance.
No mainstream media outlet reported on this assault, not even the Village Voice, which had covered the Stonewall Rebellion. The only story about our defiance that night was written by me in Rat Subterranean News.
The courage of the discarded, disrespected, and sometimes homeless street people who fought back at the Stonewall Inn must be honored. But a half century later, some acknowledgment and appreciation must be given to the GLF women who risked our lives to create an alternative to the Stonewalls and Kooky’s that had dominated our social lives.
It seems so matter of fact today to want to dance with whoever you want to — and surely, we will party again when we defeat this pandemic. But we GLF lesbians risked prison and payback to dance together 50 years ago, proving that sisterhood is powerful.
Following her divorce, Forster embraced her gay identity. She moved in with her girlfriend in the mid-1960s, although she would not officially “come out” until 1969. When she did, it was in spectacular style, The Independent recalled in her 1998 obituary, “announcing to the world at Speaker’s Corner: ‘You are looking at a roaring dyke!’”.