“My Grandfather Led the Raid on the Stonewall Inn.”

by Becki Pine

I’m Becki Pine, I’m from Short Hills, New Jersey.

My family has always been one that celebrates individuality and is supportive of other people. So when I was 5, I remember I was playing on the floor with some toys and my mom and my uncle were sitting. My uncle was talking about how people would be making rude comments and just being really judgmental about who he was and the fact that the person that he loved for longer than I had been alive, happened to be of the same gender. And I remember picking up my head and just being confused.

Later, when I was in high school, I learned that they had had a GSA at one point but they for some reason didn’t have it when I was there. I wanted to start one because it was important to me that people knew that there were other people out there that would support them and accept them for who they are and who they loved. I got one of my teachers to agree to be the advisor and I had to get signatures to get people who would be interested in joining it. I just remember going around my school and saying, “Hey, this would be a really great thing for us to do for our classmates” and I got more than enough signatures and it was started.

So I remember one day when I was about 20, my dad called me and we were just catching up and he mentioned that my grandfather had another interview that day and I just assumed it was something for World War 2 or something. And he told me that David Carter was writing a book on my grandfather’s involvement in the Stonewall Riots. And my grandfather’s title at the time was Deputy Inspector and it was really high up. So I had to ask my dad what the Stonewall Riots were and I learned that my grandfather led the raid on the Stonewall Inn in the 60s that is kind of known as what started the gay rights movement. So in the 60s, the police would come into queer spaces and they would raid.

I was surprised and I was embarrassed and ashamed that my family had that in its history because it had always been so important to me to be supportive. So it felt to me like I’ve had to hide this because I didn’t want people to think that I was being supportive as a way to make up for my family’s involvement in the riots. It was weird because this was the first time I really felt like I had to hide something about myself.

It was upsetting to me to see what people were writing about my grandfather because everyone just assumed he was a bigot. That’s not how I ever saw him so I wanted to, I stopped reading about it because I didn’t want to know what people thought of him. I also didn’t talk to him about it because I was afraid of what he would say. He died a couple years later and I never had the chance to talk to him about it personally but I never really got to hear from him what was going on.

David Carter came to his funeral and I talked a lot with him just to hear his side of it and to hear that it was still about protecting people, because the mafia owned Stonewall and my grandfather didn’t think it was right that they were blackmailing people. I never gave him a chance to talk to me about that. All my life, I just wanted to talk to people and I couldn’t afford that to my grandfather and I feel really guilty about it still.

I know that I would mention, “Oh, Grandpa, I’m starting a GSA at my school.” And he was always really supportive about that and I think he got joy from the fact that I was supportive of people and that I…it was important for me to be there for people who needed it.

I have changed in that I’m not ashamed of being different. And I understand that everyone has their own story and I would encourage everyone to be who they are and that includes myself.

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