“Not long after the famous riots of 1969, the Stonewall Inn, the bar that is widely considered the place where the gay rights movement started, was no longer a bar.
Over 20 years, numerous other businesses inhabited the space.
In 1990, a man named Jimmy Pisano — pictured left with Darryl Brantley dresses in drag on the day of the Pride Parade in 1990 — decided to open his first bar at 53 Christopher Street.
At first, he named the bar “New Jimmy’s” to honor the man who taught him the bar business, Jimmy Merry. About a year later, he changed the name back to Stonewall.
Jimmy’s venture was a rousing failure except in one respect. Though it lost money every year, he owned it and he stubbornly kept it open. He refused to let it go back to being a Chinese restaurant or bagel shop or any of the other businesses that had inhabited the space.
Jimmy died in 1994 from complications brought on by AIDS.
Darryl Brantley who also worked at Stonewall succumbed to AIDS in 2011.
Stonewall remained open after his death due to the help of numerous people who shared Jimmy’s vision that the space had to forever be Stonewall.
For a brief time, a plaque at the entrance to Stonewall mentioned that Jimmy Pisano was the man who re-opened and kept open the birthplace of gay rights.
In the celebratory frenzy that accompanied the designation of Stonewall as a landmark, that plaque was torn down. Jimmy Pisano’s name was erased from the history of that space.
It is due to Jimmy’s efforts and the support of friends and patrons, we now take for granted the space that will always be Stonewall,” via Stonewall Revival Project.