Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Meet the Man Who Saved the Stonewall Inn

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— “I took these photos at 53 Christopher Street, the site of the original Stonewall Riots. . I had met Jimmy Pisano — pictured on the left with Coco LaChine — in 1989 at the then popular Private Eyes nightclub where he was the manager. We started going out. . In just a few short months, he was opening his first bar at 53 Christopher Street. Though he hadn’t set out to open Stonewall, that is what he ultimately succeeded in doing. . Purely an accident. A very fortunate accident for all of us who care that this symbol exists today as a physical place — a touchstone for the community. . Though business was brisk on this Pride March day, that wasn’t the case most of the time. Jimmy struggled to keep the bar open until his death, from AIDS, in 1994. . Jimmy Pisano is the forgotten footnote in the history of Stonewall. . These photos represent some of the happiest memories I have of that time because everything was still hopeful. Within a year, Jimmy stripped out the expensive kitchen (and some of the high end decor) and restored the Stonewall name to the front window. All in an effort to keep his struggling business going. . It wouldn’t be until the end of the decade, the new millennium, that Stonewall would start to receive the honors that the site deserves. . The original site comprised both the 51 and 53 Christopher parcels. . If you doubt Jimmy Pisano’s contribution to our history, let me ask you a simple question ... When celebrities or politicians or tourists or anyone comes to visit Stonewall and take a picture, do they go to 51 Christopher (currently a nail salon) to capture the moment? No, of course not. . Even though that space is equally “Stonewall.” They go to 53 Christopher Street. The bar that Jimmy Pisano opened in 1990. . For a brief time, a plaque at the entrance to Stonewall mentioned that Jimmy Pisano was the man who re-opened and kept open the birthplace of gay rights. . In the celebratory frenzy that accompanied the designation of Stonewall as a landmark, that plaque was torn down — Jimmy Pisano's name was erased from the history of that space.”— by Tom Garguilo @stonewallrevival6344
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Thank you, Jimmy.