The quick-witted Hugh Ryan has a nose for history, as demonstrated in his book When Brooklyn Was Queer. His latest The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison mines little-known historical sources to point out how a large and vocal population of queer-identified and trans people passed through the old cement monstrosity that used to stand next to today’s Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan‘s Greenwich Village.
Now a community garden, the site is a shout away from the Stonewall Inn, and Ryan writes the story of some of those imprisoned voices left out of the customary tales of the riot. In fact, prisoners set fire to their bedclothes and tossed them from the barred windows overlooking 6th Ave chanting “gay rights, gay rights gay rights.” Even before Stonewall’s impassioned response to police exploitation of gay bars, House of D. queer women, transmasculine people and other women were rioting for their rights in the jail. [Read more…] about Arrested Attention: The Women’s House of Detention