September 8, 2010

A Notable Passing For The Gay History Books

I'm usually not one to read the obituaries in the TIMES. I have friends who tell me it's often the first thing they read because the paper puts some much research, writing and general effort into them. I do remember the obit for Frank Sinatra's passing was very impressive, reading like a short novel almost.  

Anyway, today I happened to be flipping through an actual paper copy of the TIMES (how retro!) when I saw a headline in the obituaries that got my attention.  It was about Seymour Pine, an NYC police inspector who led a vice raid on an illegal Mafia run nightclub called the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969.  This raid quickly went sour as transvestites and lesbians struggled with the police trying to arrest them. The growing crowd outside the club grew unruly, parking meters and rocks were tossed and the rest, as they say, is LGBT history.

In 2004, Pine spoke at a panel about the Stonewall Riots and expressed his regret for the raid and subsequent mayhem.  Explaining that he was merely following orders from his superiors, he even apologized for his actions in response to a question at the panel.  As reported in David Carter's book on the riots, Pine said "if what I did helped gay people, then I'm glad."  Seymour Pine was 91 years old.