Jim Fouratt

Jim Fouratt (23 June 1945?) is active in the entertainment industry and a gay rights activist during the early days of Stonewall.

Jim Fouratt was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front and a participant in the Stonewall riots. Fouratt lived with Carl Miller, Allen Young, Giles Kotcher, Bob Bland and Punit Auerbacher in the Seventeenth Street commune. He became the manager for the club Hurrah in 1978 and brought in DJs to create the first "Rock Disco," with music videos playing as well as live music acts. In 1980 he opened Danceteria with Rudolf Pieper. He has also been a writer for Billboard magazine, where he has been an outspoken critic of rappers such as Eminem. In the late 1990s Fouratt attempted to launch Beauty Records, a recording imprint funded by Mercury Records' Danny Goldberg, but that project was short-circuited when Mercury's parent corporation, Polygram, was bought out by Seagrams.

It was 1969 when Fouratt — then a long-haired, slender, aspiring actor from Providence, Rhode Island — took part in the watershed demonstrations at the Stonewall Inn that marked the birth of the lesbian and gay liberation movement. A self-proclaimed cultural instigator, Fouratt has worn many hats since the old Stonewall days — from gay rights stalwart for the Gay Liberation Front to talent booker at the iconic Downtown nightclub Danceteria, to pop culture critic for Billboard and Rolling Stone magazines.

“I’m a single, gay man. I never wanted to act like a straight person, I never wanted to have children,” the activist said. “But all the gays and lesbians that are out because of what my generation did, they are all my children.”He recalled the events that unfolded the night of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run dance bar on Christopher St. off of Sheridan Square.“People that think we are past homophobia and intolerance need to get their heads out of places like the Village, L.A. and San Francisco,” Fouratt said. “But what happened in 1969 definitely changed how lesbians and gays see themselves.”At the time, Fouratt was a 24-year-old hippie who worked as an assistant to Clive Davis at Columbia Records.

On the night of the Stonewall riot, the gay activist had worked until midnight at his office at Columbia Records. After a nightcap at Max’s Kansas City, the popular nightclub on Park Ave. South, Fouratt was heading back to his apartment in the Village, when he noticed a cluster of police and onlookers in front of the Stonewall Inn. “Police raids at gay bars were frequent,” Fouratt said. “But something was in the air that night. ”Suddenly, he recalled, the door of the bar opened and a police officer came out, dragging a very masculine-looking woman dressed in men’s clothing — “what we call a passing woman,” Fouratt noted. The woman, handcuffed, was put into the police van, but she somehow got out the other side and began to rock the vehicle. “That was the moment — the moment when gays and lesbians became conscious that they had power,” Fouratt said.“There’s a lot people say about Stonewall, but a lot of it isn’t true,” he noted. “What is true and relevant is the transformation of a silent, closeted, invisible community through the sense of self-empowerment and visibility.” An uproar followed outside the bar and, while the cops requested reinforcement, a swelling group of people gathered outside of the bar. Soon, flocks of gays and lesbians were marching all over Greenwich Village, chanting “Come out!” and calling for change.

“Yet, Stonewall was not a riot,” Fouratt pointed out. “A riot is when people are out of control and it’s scary. I like the world ‘rebellion’ better: A rebellion is about empowering.” On the third night of the demonstrations, Fouratt helped found the Gay Liberation Front, the first of many lesbian and gay liberation movements that sprouted across the country in the following months.