True LGBTQ stories

This man overcame bullying, survived a suicide attempt, and witnessed the Stonewall riots firsthand

Perry Brass

Perry Brass

You never know where you life will take you, particularly if you stay strong in the face of adversity. Perry Brass overcame being bullied as a teen in Georgia — and survived a subsequent suicide attempt — to wind up as a struggling artist in New York City, where he witnessed the legendary bar raids firsthand.

In fact, he was right there in the thick of it that historic evening, hanging out at a bar near Stonewall — the still-standing Julius’, the oldest gay establishment in the city — and, as he explains, he was more than willing to be part of the movement:

“At that time, New York was so abrasively difficult for gay men. We had entrapment, we had the Mafia controlling the bars, we had police harassment, and in fact a lot of gay men in New York didn’t go to bars. They did a lot of street cruising, we would go to places like Riis Park which is a gay beach, and a lot of men were scared of bars.”

What had been going on in New York, this constant harassment, this brutality towards gays, I hated it. And I didn’t have that attitude that a lot of people had which was, ‘Well, this is the way life is, we just have to accept it….’ I didn’t have that attitude.”

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