Mitzi, fifteen years old, transgender, homeless, a fierce fighter, has always known that the private, intimate details of her life seamlessly become public every time she goes onto the street. “I think,” Mitzi says, “every time I go on the street I’m giving the finger to everybody in power, and I know that, and I think they know that too.” She knows that in 1969 the policies of the Mayor of New York are designed to eradicate her and other street kids like her, but she defeats the Mayor, this fifteen years old girl, every time she walks out on the street.
It’s eight o’clock in the evening, Saturday night, June 28, 1969, and Mitzi is walking up Christopher Street with Bo Ravich and Bo’s partner, Andrew, and their friend Joseph, going to the second of the three big riots that we know of as the Stonewall Riots. They’re talking about their own slowness in getting out on the street and demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the American contract. Bo says, “I never thought there was a gay question that was subject to politics—organizing, speeches, demonstrations, bills in Congress. The gay thing has always seemed to be about something like our freedom to suck cock, and I think I have been embarrassed to put that up for public discussion. It’s odd. I didn’t think there was any way to change the way things were. Now I do. In just twenty-four hours.”
Joseph says, “I remember having a strong connection with the people in Mississippi. We were related, and everybody knew it. They were my brothers and my sisters in Mississippi, and I was going to help them. We were all black, but also we were all getting screwed by the system. The same thing is true here. We’re brothers and sisters—we’re all fags together—and we all get screwed by the system in just the same way.”Joseph continues, “Oppressed people always end up taking to the streets. Through violence. Fanon says that. ‘The colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence’ (p. 86). That’s what we’re doing.”
“I like that,” Andrew says. “‘I find my freedom through violence. That’s nice. Come on, guys, let’s see how much freedom we can find tonight.”They walk on up Christopher Street to Seventh. They join the riot, and all of them fight, and they are all of them bloodied, and they find much freedom that night to suck cock
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove Press, originally published 1961.The quoted sentence is from this edition.