Happy Independence Day, my new release from DSP Publications, takes place during the Stonewall Riots of 1969. I didn’t know much about the uprising going into this project. Early in my research, the elements of a great story were obvious. I hope I’ve done it justice.
Details about what happened in the early morning hours of June 28 are sketchy. Reports vary, with conflicting eyewitness accounts, few pictures, and no video footage. By all accounts, drag queens played an important role in the uprising and, consequently, needed a voice in Happy Independence Day.
In early notes, that voice was to come from Chica Boomboom, a sassy Puerto Rican. She refused to talked to me because I didn’t understand her language or her culture. When the time came to introduce her point of view, she’d morphed into Kreema Dee Kropp, an African-American from somewhere in the South. Mm-hmm.
Kreema Dee Kropp is one of the strongest characters I’ve ever written. Her voice is loud, persistent, and demanding. Nobody takes advantage of her, including me. Writing her character was a revelation that left me wondering what she and others like her might have accomplished in a more accepting and tolerant world. I suspect she’ll turn up again in a future story—perhaps in a starring role, rather than the supporting role she plays in Happy Independence Day.
Terrence Bottom, a supporting character in No Good Deed (the second Philip Potter Story), is attending Columbia University and living in Greenwich Village. Sparks fly when Terrence and Cameron McKenzie see each other at the Stonewall Inn, but when Terrence tries to talk to him, Cameron flees. Kreema helps them to get together, and all three lives are forever changed.