Martha Shelley, who organized the first protest march in New York City after the 1969 Stonewall Riot and helped found the history-changing Gay Liberation Front, is coming to Port Townsend for an …
Martha Shelley, who organized the first protest march in New York City after the 1969 Stonewall Riot and helped found the history-changing Gay Liberation Front, is coming to Port Townsend for an author’s event next month.
Shelly reads from her new memoir, “We Set the Night on Fire” (Chicago Review Press), at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 in the Pink House of the Port Townsend Library, 1220 Lawrence St. A discussion with the author will follow.
The daughter of Jewish refugees and undocumented immigrants in New York, Shelley grew up during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and ’50s. After coming out at a time when homosexual acts were illegal, she became the public speaker for the New York chapter of the historic lesbian rights group, the Daughters of Bilitis.
Immediately after the beginnings of the Stonewall Riot on June 28, 1969, Shelley seized upon the history-making nature of the rebellion against police brutality and homophobia to organize the first post-Stonewall queer protest march.
That march took place on July 27, 1969. At the same time, she joined with others to found the Gay Liberation Front. Some who were present at the meeting where the Gay Liberation Front was born credit her with coining the name of the organization.
As autonomous Gay Liberation Front chapters began to spring up around the United States and abroad, Shelley co-produced the GLF newspaper, Come Out! and played a central role in the Lavender Menace action to confront homophobia in the women’s movement.
A poet and novelist, she has authored numerous seminar essays on gay and feminist issues, including “Gay Is Good” and “Notes of a Radical Lesbian.”
Ever the organizer, even as she approaches 80, Shelley will lead a talk following the book signing. She will ask, “With everything we fought for under attack, where do we go from here? What should be our priorities?”
Organizers of the event said the evening promises to be equally enlightening and productive.
Books will be available for purchase and signing. Due to health concerns, masks are requested.
Shelley will also present a book reading/signing/discussion in Seattle at Elliott Bay Books at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8.