Happy Gay Pride Month!
It’s time, once again, to post my annual pride posting.
In my lifetime I’ve witnessed a most remarkable change in societal attitudes toward those of us on the sexual fringe. One only needs to go back 50 years in time. I was 15 years old then and I knew I was queer. When I looked out on the world around me this is what I saw. Homosexuality was deemed a mental disorder by the nation’s psychiatric authorities, and gay sex was a crime in every state but Illinois. Federal workers could be fired merely for being gay.
Today, gays serve openly in the military, work as TV news anchors and federal judges, win elections as big-city mayors and members of Congress. Popular TV shows have gay protagonists.
And now the gay-rights movement may be on the cusp of momentous legal breakthroughs. Later this month, a Supreme Court ruling could lead to legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the whole country.
The transition over five decades has been far from smooth — replete with bitter protests, anti-gay violence, backlashes that inflicted many political setbacks, and AIDS. Unlike the civil rights movement and the women’s liberation movement, the campaign for gay rights unfolded without household-name leaders.
And yet, I sense that soon, if it hasn’t begun already, we will experience a backlash in the dominant culture. I don’t relish the idea, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. And when it comes, as I think it will, it won’t smart nearly as much if we know our history. And we should also remember the immortal words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”
In honor of gay pride month, a little sex history lesson — The Stonewall Riots
The confrontations between demonstrators and police at The Stonewall Inn, a mafia owned bar in Greenwich Village NYC over the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 are usually cited as the beginning of the modern Lesbian/Gay liberation Movement. What might have been just another routine police raid on a bar patronized by homosexuals became the pivotal event that sparked the entire modern gay rights movement.
The Stonewall riots are now the stuff of myth. Many of the most commonly held beliefs are probably untrue. But here’s what we know for sure.
- In 1969, it was illegal to operate any business catering to homosexuals in New York City — as it still is today in many places in the world. The standard procedure was for New York City’s finest to raid these establishments on a regular basis. They’d arrest a few of the most obvious ‘types’ harass the others and shake down the owners for money, then they’d let the bar open as usual by the next day.
- Myth has it that the majority of the patrons at the Stonewall Inn were black and Hispanic drag queens. Actually, most of the patrons were probably young, college-age white guys lookin for a thrill and an evening out of the closet, along with the usual cadre of drag queens and hustlers. It was reasonably safe to socialize at the Stonewall Inn for them, because when it was raided the drag queens and bull-dykes were far more likely to be arrested then they were.
- After midnight June 27-28, 1969, the New York Tactical Police Force called a raid on The Stonewall Inn at 55 Christopher Street in NYC. Many of the patrons who escaped the raid stood around to witness the police herding the “usual suspects” into the waiting paddywagons. There had recently been several scuffles where similar groups of people resisted arrest in both Los Angeles and New York.
- Stonewall was unique because it was the first time gay people, as a group, realized that what threatened drag queens and bull-dykes threatened them all.
- Many of the onlookers who took on the police that night weren’t even homosexual. Greenwich Village was home to many left-leaning young people who had cut their political teeth in the civil rights, anti-war and women’s lib movements.
- As people tied to stop the arrests, the mêlée erupted. The police barricaded themselves inside the bar. The crowd outside attempted to burn it down. Eventually, police reinforcements arrived to disperse the crowd. But this just shattered the protesters into smaller groups that continued to mill around the streets of the village.
- A larger crowd assembled outside the Stonewall the following night. This time young gay men and women came to protest the raids that were commonplace in the city. They held hands, kissed and formed a mock chorus line singing; “We are the Stonewall Girls/We wear our hair in curls/We have no underwear/We show our pubic hair.” Don’t ‘cha just love it?
- Police successfully dispersed this group without incident. But the print media picked up the story. Articles appeared in the NY Post, Daily News and The Village Voice. Theses helped galvanize the community to rally and fight back.
- Within a few days, representatives of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis (two of the country’s first homophile rights groups) organized the city’s first ever “Gay Power” rally in Washington Square. Some give hundred protesters showed up; many of them gay and lesbians.
The riots led to calls for homosexual liberation. Fliers appeared with the message: “Do you think homosexuals are revolting? You bet your sweet ass we are!” And the rest, boys and girls, is as they say is history.
During the first year after Stonewall, a whole new generation of organizations emerged, many identifying themselves for the first time as “Gay.” This not only denoted sexual orientation, but a radical way to self-identify with a growing sense of open political activism. Older, more staid homophile groups soon began to make way for the more militant groups like the Gay Liberation Front.
The vast majority of these new activists were under thirty; dr dick’s generation, don’t cha know. We were new to political organizing and didn’t know that this was as ground-breaking as it was. Many groups formed on colleges campuses and in big cities around the world.
By the following summer, 1970, groups in at least eight American cities staged simultaneous events commemorating the Stonewall riots on the last Sunday in June. The events varied from a highly political march of three to five thousand in New York to a parade with floats for 1200 in Los Angeles. Seven thousand showed up in San Francisco.
One of my good friends and I had sex. This would not be so strange if it weren’t for the fact that he was both identifying as straight AND homophobic. Even stranger, he initiated everything from the kissing to the blowjobs, and I have to say, he was damn good at keeping teeth out of the equation. But he won’t date me, and even after the second time we had sex, he refuses because I’m too good a friend and that he doesn’t see me like that. He claims not to be attracted to me, and I think that’s bull. Nobody held a gun to his head and said, “Have gay sex now!” Even worse, he wants to bang one of our mutual friends who happens to be female, so his good friend comment is worth shit. I’m for the most part over him, but it still feels like a slap in the face. Any advice?
What we have here, Daniel, is a dude with a huge rift between his sexual practices and his self-perception; between his secret eroticism and what he thinks others know about him. Needless to say this is a very dangerous psychological dilemma for him or anyone like him. It’s no wonder he identifies as homophobic, pup, because indeed he is. At least he knows himself that well.
If you haven’t discovered this already, lots of homophobes indulge in the very thing that disgusts them. That’s why is so easy to see through all the bluster that these conflicted individuals make. You see, it’s like a smoke screen. They spew a lot of hate in an effort to disguise their lust. It’s one of those; “me thinks you doth protest too much” sorta deals.
You also rightly point out the falsehood of the whole “too good a friend” argument that he uses to avoid dating you. As you probably can guess his hesitation to “date” you has absolutely nothing to do with friendship. He loathes himself for what he finds inside himself. And while he may dabble in the very thing he hates in private; he sure as hell doesn’t want to parade his shame around by publicly dating you — an out and, I assume, proud gay man. Right?
Oh, and that, “for the most part, I’m over him” statement is, I assume you know, gay-speak for “still carrying a big old messy torch for the fucked up monkey.”
Finally this incident oughta feel like a slap in the face. Ya know why? Because it was a slap in the face, darling. And you know what slaps in the face are supposed to do for us? That’s right, they’re supposed to wake us the fuck up. And they’re supposed to sting like hell afterward. This painful aftermath is intended to ward us away from getting to close to that particular stimulus ever again. Think of it like baby learning to avoid the stove after burning his had touching a hot burner.
So, ditch this dude, pup. If ya don’t, you can look forward to a whole lot more slaps in the face.
Hey sex fans, welcome back.
But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of our chat, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #393 and PRESTO! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.
Kathy and I discuss:
- Autonomy vs. intimacy;
- Love In Abundance; A Counselor’s Advice on Open Relationships;
- Being a card-caring bisexual;
- Advocating for poly rights, but not universal polyamory;
- The role the internet plays in building the poly community;
- The fallacy that people are repressed into monogamy;
- Serial adultery and the myth of life-long monogamy;
- Tips for coming out as poly;
- The people who inspire her and her sexual heroes.
You’ll find lots of information about Kathy on her fantastic website HERE!
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