Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Stonewall for Beginners

There’s a Tagalog proverb that goes, “Kung hindi mo alam kung saan ka nanggaling, hindi mo alam kung saan ka makakarating.”

Translation?

“If you do not know where you come from, you do not know where you’re going.”

The first time I heard this, I thought, “What a ridiculous saying.” But the more I considered it, the more I realized the wisdom. Know your roots, the saying seems to imply. Remember that knowledge is power.

I learned of the incredible, spontaneous–viscerally and physically defiant–Stonewall riots nearly two decades ago, after I first came out. The coming out process is, of course, for many of us such an arduous, painful process that the history of all those who came before us is clouded by self-interest. How can a collective movement matter much when you’re struggling to your individual identity?

Once the door is opened, however, it’s important to recognize the past. That’s the best part of the Filipino proverb: How can you move forward, if you never look back?

The Stonewall Riots–and its defiant men and women–initiated a revolution. Pre-1969, homosexuality was illegal; the American Psychiatry Association categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder. The list of social injustices burdening lesbians and gay men were endless.

I’m excited to support the new documentary “Stonewall Uprising.” It contains black-and-white historical footage and interviews with the now-senior citizens who defied police, social scientists, and the political establishment; as one participant says, “It was the Rosa Parks moment.”

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BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
February 2018
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https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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