Leave Judy Alone

Blogs are strange animals with voracious appetites. The constant need for new content, etc etc, blah, blah. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship to mine, since by nature it calls for rougher drafts and less reflection than a good book requires. And my more facile assumptions and least artful sentences hang there to dry as the weeks and months pass, preserved for all eternity in my archives, should anyone bother.

I used to have this policy, that once published to the web, I would never revise a post, since invariably the more vulnerable I made myself in writing, the sooner I wanted to hit “delete.” Which felt like a dishonest reaction. But recently I changed my mind.

Last week I wrote an essay here about the Christian preachers chased out of the Castro, an essay that brought me some traffic and a few dozen comments. I wrote it in about three hours, which is pretty average for a longer post. But some of the comments by some of the readers made me reflect more on what I was trying to say, and I realized that I hadn’t actually captured the full spectrum of my emotions around the event, which made the essay less than honest.

Since first hitting the “publish” button on that essay, I’ve been thinking a lot. Mostly about anger and violence, the role they played that night in the Castro, the role they’ve played in the history of civil rights, and the fact that so many of the initial readers thought that I was giving a wholehearted thumbs-up to violence, when what I really wanted to encourage was anger.

But I felt conflicted and doubtful about both, and I realized that I needed to introduce this doubt into the post. And the more I thought about anger and violence, and the role they’ve played in gay people’s fight for civil rights, the more I wanted to refresh my memory about Stonewall, which meant that I did a little reading. And that reading cleared away some of my more facile assumptions, like Judy Garland’s death being the match to Stonewall’s gas tank, an assumption that can’t be reliably supported by the evidence. So I had to change the title of the essay as well, and leave out Judy, who, like, had a tough enough life as it was without getting dragged around Stonewall.

Which is a very long way to say that I revised the damn thing, because it felt irresponsible to leave it up in its rougher stage. It’s just a matter of a few short paragraphs, and I don’t know if anyone else but me cares about such a thing, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that night in the Castro, and about anger and violence in general, which means that the issue, for me, stays unresolved. Which means that I will keep reading what other people have to say, and studying our history, hoping that eventually the clearest path to our goals will be revealed. Which ain’t so likely, since only hindsight is 20/20.

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