W. Kamau Bell marked the inclusion of LGBT rights in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech this week with a visit from “the Spirit of Stonewall,” who gave a brief primer on the events of June 28, 1969, considered a watershed moment in LGBT rights.
Prior to that night, the spirit (played by drag performer Sherry Vine), police would routinely storm gay bars and charge patrons with public indecency.
“Ain’t that some shit?” the spirit asked Bell’s audience. “But on this night, it was different. It was a bar full of drag queens, butch dykes, trans men, hustlers, some housewives with secrets and, I think, James Baldwin.”
That night, she said, “the entire gay alphabet” resisted the authorities.
“The revolution will be televised — on Bravo,” she announced. And like other notable civil rights figures, the spirit said, she had her own calling card: a brick.
“A brick of liberty with which I hit oppression in the face,” she explained, producing a brick from her purse. “And then in the nuts and then in the face again.”
In his speech, Obama invoked the Stonewall uprising when he said, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.” It was the first time that LGBT rights were mentioned in a presidential address, for which the spirit expressed her gratitude.
“Thank you, President Obama, you big tall glass of chocolate milk,” she said. “I am ready to take my place in history. I am ready to have my ass on a stamp so you all can lick it. And how about my face on some money? Hello? ‘Queer as a $3 bill,’ and proud of it.”
Watch the spirit recount the events of Stonewall, as aired on “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” on Thursday, below.