About the Photographer
Suzanne Poli, a Brooklyn native, moved to an apartment building on Christopher Street on January 19, 1967, with her husband and young daughter.
On a night in 1969 she experienced a turbulent moment that would become known as The Stonewall Riots. "I heard a noise and a ruckus and all this fighting. I was very much a freedom fighter. When I realized this was because of an injustice going on, I felt my own ideas of equality and justice were being tampered with." A year later the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March made its debut, and Poli shot the event from her apartment window.
Poli had many gay friends in the 1960's but says communication and protest were very different and much scarier in the earlier days of what is now known as the Heritage of Pride Parade. "When I talked to my gay friends back then, there was an austere quiet. There was a hush but also an excitement because we knew it was the beginning of something important."
According to Poli in those earlier days the marchers were usually not only gay and lesbians but rather groups of feminists, socialists and students. The danger for many LGBT people was too great and many were afraid to march. So these photos not only show the many brave LGBT marchers who were shunned but the allies who fought along side them.
Except for two or three parades most of the parades from 1970 to 1984 are presented in this exhibit for OutHistory.org through the generosity of Suzanne Poli.
Poli states: "Through my images, I hope to create change, to get people thinking. I was to give them hope and optimism. I want them to know that if you stay with it, you will ge there."