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Thursday, August 13, 2009

this tree grew in the village

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

there is a bartender at the historic stonewall inn nyc. he was working there 40 years ago when the legendary stonewall riots happened. with stories full of glory, full of hope, and full of emotion, he has certainly become a storyteller of legend for the american lgbtq community.

this year, he was the grand marshall of the pride festival in colorado springs. friend karl beck got the chance to ask him a few questions after a brief conversation about the events that weekend of the riots. judy garland had overdosed that week and it had shot shards of grief throughout the burrough. to top it off, the heat and humidity had risen to levels that encroached unbearable. but the roots of revolt, rebellion, and self-respect took hold as well.

here is the brief conversation between karl and tree. i, for one, am proud to once again salute the 40 year commemorative to our community's season of love.....

Interview with Tree
The Colorado Springs Pride-fest had as their grand marshal Tree the bartender at the Stonewall Inn on the infamous night 40 years ago. I had the chance to sit and talk with him for a little while and found an interesting character. He is now 70 years old and stays young by visiting Brazil three times a year where he has an apartment. He has been a bartender for 48 years.
K: Were you at the funeral? (for those not in the know, the funeral of Judy Garland was that afternoon.)
T: I was in line with friends, and as Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft went by and saw me they said they would get me into the services as I was a family friend. My friends with me in line threatened to kill me if I went so I stayed with them.
K: Do you believe that the funeral of one of our icons was a trigger for the riots that weekend?
T: Lorna says it was the funeral that acted as a catalyst, Liza an myself think that we had had enough of the mistreatment.
K: How old were you at the time of the riots?
T: I was 30 and in the closet with family.
K: Do you have a boyfriend/lover?
T: I am single now, but have had two long term relationships. I was dating the son of one of the ambassadors to the US until a car crash resulted in his death. The other relationship ended when he found a woman and got married. I now have godchildren, and we are still friends.
K: Tree is an unusual name, what is your heritage?
T: My family was originally from Russia, and my name is just “tree”.
K: Who threw the 1st punch?
T: According to Tree, a lesbian by the name of Stormy De Lavette was the first to push a cop. She is now 89 years old.
He told me that New York should have been the first state in the US to give same sex couples the right to marry. When asked about HIV/AIDS he commented that “He buried a generation.”

you can read more from tree at metromix here

today's sound choice is a recording of "somewhere over the rainbow" from 40 years ago in copenhagen by judy garland. it's no wonder she sparked the emotions of a generation.


1 comment:

Sheria said...

I was 14 when the Stonewall riots happened. I didn't have a clue as to what any of it was about. I don't recall there being much attention paid locally. My small southern town didn't take note of such a significant event. We just looked the other way. In adulthood when I finally learned and understood what it was all about, I felt cheated all those years ago.

Judy was so grand; this is a perfect performance.

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