How it works
The game consists in telling the story of the main characters chosen to play together with the other players. The characters are the protagonists of the story and the players will follow their lives and how they are influenced, for better or worse, by the events leading up to the Stonewall riots. Those events and the riot that followed will leave a permanent mark on the characters, which will lead them to choose what to do with their life from that moment on.
The characters cast is already defined: each player will decide which character they wish to play from a pool of 14. Each character is represented by an image, a description and some questions that define relationships with other characters and guide the players to explore the characters’ themes.
At the beginning of the game, all the characters introduce themselves as ill, because that is what patriarchal society, medicine, religion and the law see in them and in what they represent. At the end of the game, during the epilogue, each player will have to declare if their character:
- have healed, that means the character has become aware of what and who they are and they will live their life fighting with pride to affirm their right to exist and to decide for themself about their own destiny;
- is healing, that means they have become aware of what and who they are. They will not make the fight their reason of life, they will live with discretion, even deciding to make compromises, but, for sure, they will never go back to how they were before;
- is ill, that means the events and violences have marked them too harshly or have confirmed, with unbearable suffering, that the only way to survive is to be homologated with the rest of society, however high the price to pay is.
The story unfolds through a prologue, five acts and an epilogue.
The prologue and the first act introduce the characters, the historical, social and economic context and it establishes a situation that will be Tchallenged during the course of the game.
The second and third act are the pulsing heart of the game: it is during these phases that the characters emerge and the players explore their conflicts in depth.
The fourth act stages the moment of the riot: it is a violent moment, where the tension accumulated in acts two and three suddenly dissolves. The players now know how and why the characters got to this point.
The fifth act and the epilogue bring into play the consequences of the conflicts played through the game and how the characters’ lives have changed following the events that led to the Stonewall riots.
The themes emerging during play are diverse and they don’t just focus on the protagonists’ queer experience. The characters played are varied and diverse in sexual orientation, gender identity, social class and skin color. Each character faces the discrimination and the difficulties of being considered ill and criminal in a different way in a historical moment where prejudice was supported by law, morality and medicine. Each character deals with the relationship with society and discrimination in a different way and with different levels, because being gay, white and bourgeois was not (and it is not) the same thing as being a lesbian, black and homeless. The concept of intersection of discrimination is present in all the characters of the game cast and it bears a weight in the relationships that bind them.
Another emergent theme is the use of language and its importance in building models and words that facilitate self-determination. In the 1960s the jargon and words used to identify queer people had different, meaner and broader meaning than the ones we have today. Now we have words with precise meanings, reappropriation of insults and mean words and the creation of a new vocabulary that expanded the awareness of the LGBT+ experience.
With the language evolution of recent times it has been possible to build new models and to forge new identities in which LGBT+ people could recognize themselves. In the times where the game is set, being “gay” had a meaning that did not coincide with the modern one. The reflection on the power and the weight of words (or on the lack of words, therefore of concepts and ideas to be able to define themselves) is evident in particular with those characters who more than others are gender queer, non-binary or that experience a transgender identity.