Monday, June 29, 2009

My Friend, Tree, Was There.

Memories of Stonewall are still alive

Monday, June 29th 2009, 12:14 PM

Hagen/News

Stonewall Inn bartender Tree was on hand when the Stonewall Riots occurred in 1969, and he still works there today.

We've come a long way, babies.

A bartender who was slinging drinks at the Stonewall Inn the night it was raided 40 years ago says young people need to know how far the gay-lesbian bisexual-transsexual movement has come - and what the previous generation sacrificed to get here.

"The younger generation needs to learn about gay pride," said the 70-year-old man, who calls himself Tree, and still serves drinks at the famous establishment.

"They have no idea the older generation went to jail for them," he told the Daily News on Saturday.

Tree recalled the days of disturbance that followed the late night raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village - which became a defining moment of the gay rights movement - as hundreds of revelers poured in and out of the Inn.

"A lot of gay people don't realize how it all started," said Hector Cruz, 38, who stopped by the bar for a drink Saturday afternoon. "This year is more exciting, I think, because of the anniversary. People are finally talking and learning about what happened."

"Being younger, we do take for granted where we are now and how far we've come," said 23- year-old Chris Brown, who spent Saturday with his boyfriend Joseph Bayer, 25.

"I'm glad I can walk down the street holding by boyfriend's hand," said Bayer as they went into the bar.

Peter Sandel, 31, said gay pride weekend is "a time to reflect on how far we've come and how we still have a ways to go."

"We are in kind of a paradox because gay pride is a tourist event, but it's also a very serious thing," said John Buono, 35.

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