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AI: Pilgrimage

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This weekend I went to New York City to celebrate my fiance’s birthday. She did her undergraduate degree there, but hasn’t been back in several years, so she wanted to visit. I had never been to New York before, so for me it was all new and exciting.

We managed to fit an enormous number of adventures into just 3 days in the city. I will probably write about a few of those experiences over the next week or two, but today I want to talk about going to The Stonewall Inn.

I first became aware of the Stonewall riots when I was about 18 and first entering into adult queer culture. I read Stone Butch Blues and heard about the history of the gay liberation movement from new friends. Since then I have remained aware of that history, but had never been to the place where these brave people took up arms against oppression.

So Saturday night I went with my fiance and our host, a woman who is a friend of my fiance’s from graduate school. Neither of them had been there either, but my fiance is also a queer identified woman and knew some of the history. Our wonderful host has lived in New York for years, but she had never heard of Stonewall so I ended up explaining why the place was important on the way there. It was nice to teach a little history, and our friend loves learning new things and having new experiences.

The bar itself is really nice. I like small, dark bars a lot more than big dance clubs, and The Stonewall Inn is right up my alley. If I lived in New York it would be the kind of place I’d want to go into during the evening and grab a drink. We ordered drinks, chatted over the pop music, and my fiance bought me a tshirt. It was early in the evening (8:00 pm ish) so it wasn’t crowded, and we seemed to be the only tourists in the place.

The bar doesn’t feel too caught up in it’s history, but it is certainly aware of it. The t-shirts have a photo from the 1963 protests on the back, and there is a historical placard out front. I was glad that it didn’t feel like a tourist trap, even though my group probably ruined that for the first few minutes.

For me visiting Stonewall was a little bit of a pilgrimage. It was a place I wanted to make sure I got to see at some point in my life, and I’m glad I did.

Have you ever visited a place that felt like a pilgrimage? Was it intentional, or did it suddenly feel that way when you arrived? Is there a place you want to go to, but haven’t yet?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Picture is me!

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