AN: If anyone has ever read my "Seeing Purple" story, they know Iris has the power to decay anything she comes into contact with if she so chooses, but in a very early draft of the story, I instead gave her the power to speak to ghosts. This fic brings that original power back into play since it didn't make the final cut.
Also, hope everyone had a safe and happy Pride! I know I did! And even though it's all over now, don't ever stop being queer! We need to be gay enough to get us through another year, then we can recharge when June, 2020 rolls around, lol. But goodbye for now!
Iris stood before the Stonewall Inn and felt a strange mix of awe and almost-amusement. Although, of course, to some degree, she felt honored to be standing in the place where it all began, it just looked so typical and normal that it was almost hard for her to believe that THIS was the place where, 50 years ago, the outcasts of the world finally rose up and said "ENOUGH! NO MORE!". In the warm summer sunlight, it looked nothing like a battle ground or place of revolution. It just looked like another old bar on a street lined with other old bars. Normal New Yorkers passed by on the streets behind her as she continued to stare up at the small, plain building.
"Are you really where it all started?" she asked it, though she already knew the answer. "You, who seem so plain and simple now. You were where it all began?" and that was when she got an idea…
There were no Stonewall survivors that she could speak with at the moment, but being who she was, she didn't always need to speak with survivors in order to get a story... Purple eyes began to glow as Iris focused hard, searching the area for any restless or lonely spirits. She knew better than anyone that not every person who died passed away into the afterlife. Some managed to stay back, lingering between two worlds, in a limbo only they could see. Her Gift, however, allowed her to see these lingering spirits sometimes, and even if there were none in her immediate vicinity, she had the strength to bring them back anyway. She could summon them up from the deepest gravest and the longest sleeps if she so chose. She didn't do it often, but today, she figured it couldn't hurt...
"Judy Garland, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Riveras, Stormé DeLarverie, Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker!" not everyone Iris tried to summon had been involved with Stonewall directly, but the ones whom she could think of off the top of her head had all, in some way, shape or form, helped the uprising start and spread. One by one, the ghosts she called returned to the land of the living, their pearlescent figures appearing on the street behind her. They all looked very surprised to be back, but it didn't take them long to understand.
For the next couple of hours, then, Iris and her spirit friends talked. They sat beside the doors of Stonewall and talked. About everything and nothing, they talked. They talked about sexuality, gender, revolution, bars, songs, queerness, laughter, strife, suffering, triumph, life, death, love, hatred, politics, philosophy, and everything in between. And all along the way, Iris called up more and more ghosts and spirits as the situation demanded of her. Suddenly, she was trapped in a sea of dead people and, just for a moment, as she peered through their pearly figures, she could see how and why Stonewall was deemed a riot. The entire street was filled with people again, even if they were people that only she could see.
Of course Iris knew about the violence, war, gore, anger, hatred and police brutality, but to see the streets slowly but surely filling up again made her realize that no matter how small and local the fight might've been, it was still a huge thing. Surrounded by all of these fallen heroes, soldiers and icons made Iris finally understand the magnitude of what had happened that night about 50 years ago. She finally got to see how many people really were involved in the riots, not just personally, but before and after as well. It all came together right before her very eyes and it was something no other human could ever truly understand. All of that power, growing and growing, until it finally ignited into the riot heard around the world. And now all of them were back again, standing before Iris, filling up the streets once more, and she got to see it happen.
And all through Iris' talk with the dead, they continually reaffirmed the virtues of spirit. Of strength, courage and determination. Although anger, fear and desperation were part of what drove the initial riots, it was spirit that helped them carry on through and last for the next 50 years. Spirit, the ghosts said, was one of the most important traits a Stonewaller could possess. Without it, the fire of revolution would've slowly died out. But the fact that, half a century later, stories were still being told was proof that the revolt was far from finished. But what could've carried multiple generations of people to continue this battle and expand its horizons? Spirit. Spirit was what drove the movement, starting from even before 1969 and extending well past it into 2019.
Across history, spirit was what drove humanity to fight and win. And it was the queer spirit that rippled through time that led up to the uprising and then all of the activism that came after it. From the initial gay liberation to the inclusion of trans people and people of color to the inclusion of people of all races, religions and migrant statuses, and beyond, it was a never-ending war and it was spirit that helped carry the brave warriors through. Even if anger and hope sparked the revolution, it was spirit that sustained and fanned the flames. It was spirit that helped them survive, fight, then survive again. It was spirit that fueled these ghosts of gay histories past and it was spirit, they all hoped, that would fuel the generations and queer heroes of the future.
"We hope that this spirit will carry you through too," the ghosts told Iris. "The fire cannot die with you, so please take our spirits along with yours and use us all to keep up your strength as you take up our flag and continue to fight, and to win! You're going to need every bit of courage and drive that you can find, so take our spirits with yours and be ready to stand proud and tall!" they all told her. "Then once your sun has set, give your spirit and ours to the next generation. Help keep the wheels turning and inspire the future with what you do today. Keep the spirit alive so that you can pass it down when your day comes..."
And long after Iris was forced to dismiss the spirits once again, sending them back to their resting places, their words stayed ringing in her ears. Even though equality was getting better, the battle was still very far from over. And there were so many new dimensions to the battle now too. She still had a lot left she could offer the world. She was going to need all the spirit she could muster, not just for herself, but for everyone else engaged in the everlasting uprising. They would need spirit not just to keep their strengths up or their awareness alive, but because they needed to pass history on through themselves and to the next generation until the very end of the line. Now it was Iris' turn and she swore that one day, her spirit would join the others, and then it would be up to her descendants to carry on the spirit, just as she had before them, and all the way unto the very end…