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What was it like to be a 15-year-old trans teen at the Stonewall riots?

What was it like to be a 15-year-old trans teen at the Stonewall riots?

Nance Lomax (far left, far right) was at Stonewall | Photos: Supplied

Nance Lomax, a Philadelphia-born trans woman, was a witness to history being made at Stonewall.

At 15 years old, she was the youngest person during the riots in 1969. 

Now, in her mid-60s, she’s still fighting for LGBTI equality as an activist.  

I was probably the youngest person at Stonewall.

The first time I went was on New Year’s Eve in 1968. A friend and I decided to go to Christopher Street as we heard that was where the LGBTI spaces were. That was when we saw the Stonewall Inn for the first time.

Life at the Stonewall Inn before the rebellion

We didn’t go in though until summer break. Despite our ages, we were instantly let in the door. It was an incredible night. We were offered a place to sleep at night on Waverly Place down the street.

From that moment, I went to the Stonewall Inn practically every night before the rebellion and after.

Marsha P Johnson sticks out in my memory. She was always standing on the steps next to the Inn when we came out at closing.

Before going where we were staying, we’d talk with her and maybe sit on the benches in Sheridan Square.

She was a lot older – about 25 to my 15. Her personality was sedate, friendly, and always on look-out for somewhere or something new.

I didn’t know Sylvia Rivera. The Latin gays always headed to a club not far from Stonewall.

Everything changed

On the night of the rebellion, everything changed.

I was talking to my boyfriend, Joey, a bartender when the police raided the bar. One of the police officers saw me, saw how young I was, and told me to get the hell out of there.

Seeing what was happening, I went to a phone booth to call my mom. From there, I escaped the shouting and went to the bus station where a ticket was waiting for me to go home.

The biggest misconception about Stonewall was that it was a riot. I think it was a rebellion.

After the first night, the gays started to call each other with the news. They all formed a working rebellion which worked to fight against the treatment of the LGBTI community.

The club was mostly teen kids and we danced, sang and were not exploited.

Stonewall has now impacted the world. We now celebrate World Pride in New York City this year.

But we need to keep the progress going. To keep the progress going for all people different from the everyday people and to start new non profit groups for causes as they appear in the future.

Stonewall 50 Voices

Gay Star News is commemorating 2019 as the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots. Our Stonewall 50 Voices series will bring you 50 guest writers from all around the world, with a focus on the diversity of our global LGBTI community.

They will be discussing the past, present and future of our struggle for love and liberation.