On June 28, 1969, Bo Ravich, a 30-year-old gay man, is a carpenter for a production of The Tempest in the West Village in New York. At two in the morning, the cops raid the Stonewall Inn, and gay people riot in Christopher Street and fight the cops for control of the street. Bo realizes that this is big, and he wants his lover with him.
From two a.m. on Saturday to midnight on Wednesday, Bo gathers a group of friends to fight—his lover Andrew, Joseph, an actor in The Tempest who wants to move in with them, Bo’s brother who comes up from Houston to help them fight the cops, a woman from the theatre company Bo works for, and a fifteen-year-old street kid named Mitzi who once tried to steal Bo’s wallet and has her own gang of street kids fighting. They learn how to fight the cops, they get bloodied, they learn from the other revolutionary movements of the late sixties. Somebody asks, “How have things changed now?” Andrew says, “Nothing’s changed. After these riots are over, we are still going to be fighting the State Liquor Authority and police entrapment and the American Psychiatric Association and Mafia control of our bars.” But Bo says, “What we saw out there on the street was gay men losing their fear. Men who, eight hours ago, were afraid to admit that they were gay, now are jumping on the backs of cops….The world is going to be so new, I think, right now, that we have no idea what our world is going to be like.”
The cops aren’t able to drive them off the streets around Sheridan Square. “THIS IS OUR STREET,” they yell at the cops. Bo knows that the characters in The Tempest wanted freedom, and his gang on Christopher Street are determined that they should have it too. Frantz Fanon, the author of The Wretched of the Earth, said that we “get our freedom in and through violence.” He also says, “Violence is a cleansing force.” After the fighting is over, they go back to Bo’s apartment, have breakfast, and talk about violence and freedom. They think about what they’re going to do and be, and how they’re going to build their new world. They think about—and argue with each other over—what it means to be free. Then the men pair off, go to bed, and have sex.
Adam in the Morning, a narrative told by Bo Ravich, is tightly focussed on the realization that their world is new, they are new, and they face a new question, which they don’t know how to answer, How do we construct a life in a new world? The reader in 2016 may be aware that we are only now beginning to confront the decisions they made, for we live now in the world created by the generation of activists at Stonewall.