Rainbow flags, candles, signs and flowers decorate the front of the Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Photo by Rhododendrites (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Glass-glitter litters pavement,
a diamond sparkle where flames dance —
rankled rage, the stench of burning trash

permeates the pavement,
where a chorus-line of courage
fueled by fury and a fierce quest

kick free of their closet-coffins.
Silent witness: moon beams
watchful gaze through heated haze.

Police push back with brutal backlash,
riot gear agleam like Roman armor
while billy-clubs beat drums of war on flesh.

Though the Stonewall Singers’ protests faded
before my birth, their cries form the bedrock
revolution — detritus the concrete foundation

for the freedom to express my love —
freedom bought with fear and frustration,
tears and sweat and blood, they paid the price.

Now others’ long forgotten memories
gleaned from borrowed books
are passed along to one more Stonewall child.


Dedicated to Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, Martin Boyce, Birdie Rivera, Jackie Hormona, Jerry Hoose, Craig Rodwell and Storme DeLaverie who started it all and fought so hard, and everyone else who stood up for our identities on June 28, 1969.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Mithrellas Curtis

Mithrellas Curtis is a writer, who strives to transform her life from one of pain to one with purpose. As a peer recovery specialist, she seeks to use her experiences to help others on their own journey to recovery and wellness. She is incarcerated in Virginia.