EXPIRED: 09/02/10 – Seymour Pine, 91, was a cop following orders. On June 28th, 1969, he led a police raid on New York City’s Stonewall Inn, located at 53 Christopher Street, in notoriously gay Greenwich Village.
It sparked a riot that spark the development of the gay rights movement that finally got us gays accepted to some degree. And while we can’t marry, at least we got into your homes in the form of re-runs of Will & Grace and stereotypes on Project Runway.
So, um, thanks, Officer Pine.
Pine was born in Manhattan and after graduating Brooklyn College and serving in the United States Army, he joined the police force and rose to the rank of deputy inspector in the late 1960s.
He often rebutted the rebutted the notion that he was a homophobe, saying that “not personal prejudice against gay people.” At a 2004 program conducted at the New-York Historical Society, he acknowledged that officers “certainly were prejudiced… but had no idea about what gay people were about.”
In fairness, it’s been cited that the Stonewall raid was not about breaking up a bunch of guys kissing. It was about combating organized crime’s stranglehold on the gay bar scene back then. But let’s face it, arresting gay people at such raids was an easy way to plump up a cop’s arrest record, and until that night queers never gave the cops any trouble for fear of being outed.
Pine later took a slightly different tone. Last year he was quoted as saying his commanding officers “were certainly prejudiced, there was no question about that. But we weren’t concerned about gays. We were concerned about the Mafia.”
Then, perhaps finally recognizing the giant strides the gay movement has taken since the Stonewall incident — or perhaps maybe he was a huge fan of Neil Patrick Harris — Pine admitted, “If what I did helped gay people, then I’m glad.”
Pine retired from the force in 1976, and after his wife died, he moved to Israel. There, he lent his expertise to the Israeli police and hunted in vain for help with his wartime back injury. He makes an appearance in the 2010 documentary Stonewall Uprising, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.
Rest In Peace, Officer Pine.