Mark Segal

Jerry Hoose: The Loss of a Pioneer

Filed By Mark Segal | February 21, 2015 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Jerry Hoose, obituary, Stonewall veterans

jerry-hoose.jpgMy friend Jerry Hoose died last week. You most likely don't know the name, but he affected your life; he certainly affected mine.

In 1969, I was 18 and, knowing I was gay, like many other LGBT people, I didn't want relatives or friends to know. About 99 percent of our community was in the closet at that time. There was only a handful of those who were out and fighting our battles for equality. In all honesty, these very brave individuals, aside from being out and providing a safe place to gather and keep our small community informed, weren't able to create a mass movement.

Then came Stonewall. And the world changed.

Jerry, like me, was a Stonewall veteran. I moved to New York City on May 10, 1969. At that time, one of the few people I knew was Jerry since we both hung out on Christopher Street. Each night we walked up and down that street socializing, and the Stonewall Inn was always a place to drop into, as was a restaurant called the Silver Dollar.

Jerry -- a lifelong New Yorker and a man with an opinion who was not afraid to share it -- was out and proud. So it was natural for him, like others of our generation, to build something from the ashes of Stonewall. We did, and it was called Gay Liberation Front.

If you study LGBT history, it was GLF that first came up with the idea of forming not only a movement for equality but a full LGBT community with services to all. Even in 1969, that included trans people and youth.

That first year was a tense one since at each meeting we attempted to realize who we were rather than embracing the labels that society had cast upon us. We debated every element of sexuality, feminism, masculinity, monogamy and more. These discussions often broke into heated debates. Jerry was one of those individuals who tried to pull us together in unity.

Over the years, while others debated Stonewall, including Jerry, there was one truth he and I shared. The high point of that time period wasn't that we were at Stonewall, but rather that first year of GLF.

Why? On the first anniversary of Stonewall, we held what is now considered the first gay pride march. On that day, Jerry said, "In one year we went from darkness to sunlight."

Jerry, you were a ray of sunlight, and your sisters and brothers of GLF will miss you. But like you, we'll continue that flame, but now with you in our hearts.

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