In the early 1970’s Madeline Davis was beginning her long history of gay & lesbian activism and music. She is credited with writing and recording the first explicitly Gay Liberation song. The song is called “Stonewall Nation.” It was written after she participated in her first gay march in Albany, NY, in June of 1971. And she got to sing it at her second gay pride march, and for years she sang it at many pride venues. She related to me that during those early years it was often heard at the Oscar Wilde Bookstore in Greenwich Village during Pride month. As I have interviewed Madeline before the song starts you’ll hear a short clip of her talking about writing it.
She wasn’t just singing during those years. She was one of the early members of the Mattachine Society of the Niagara Frontier, joining just a few months after its start in Buffalo in 1970. She was president of that chapter in 1972 and was very active in various capacities until if finally folded in the late 1980’s.
One of her biggest accomplishments was in 1972 when she was elected as the first openly lesbian delegate to a major national political convention. It was of course the Democratic convention that nominated McGovern, and Jim Foster from San Francisco was first gay male delegate, elected that same year. Also in 1972 she co-formulated and taught the first course on and entitled Lesbianism, at a major US university, State University of New York, in Buffalo.
In 1993 she co-authored, with Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy, the book “Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold,” the history of the lesbian community in Buffalo from 1935 to 1965. It was the first history of a working class gay community and the book won a Lammy award for Best Lesbian Studies, and several other national prizes.
And, here’s another interesting sidelight. In 1995, she was chosen poster girl for a tattoo show held by an arts theater center. The poster made of her was not only a big hit, and was stolen as soon as any were put up, but it was chosen best color poster of the year by an industry association and won a gold medal. She gave me permission to share the photo with you, and it’s quite a revealing and surprising one.
And, this is cool, there is also a clip on Youtube of Madeline singing the song and talking about it, from 2009, at the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance, in Buffalo
Find more at this page of my website: