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 13 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 in California, and there’s a good chance the court will require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in all U.S. jurisdictions where they are legal — as of now, 12 states and Washington, D.C.
The transition over five decades has been far from smooth — replete with bitter protests, anti-gay violence, backlashes that inflicted many political setbacks. 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.
Location: Washington DC
Hey. I hope you respond!! My name’s Jayrol and I’m a homosexual male. However, I’ve never had a sexual relationship with a male and I never plan to. It’s not that I’m ashamed or that I have some type of self hatred for myself I just think that my personality and ideals best suit a straight life, I want kids and the whole white picket fence thing. But my whole problem is Dr. that women don’t sexually attract me at all!! I’ve always had a girl but I can never seem to perform. Girls respect me when I say I wanna wait for marriage but the truth is I can’t get it up!! Is there any thing I can do about that?? Maybe Viagra or something? Or should I just give up on the “American dream”???
YIKES, where to begin. It’s like I’m having some scary flashback to the 1980’s. This is the kind of question I used to here back then. Where have you been, pup? Haven’t you noticed the changes in attitudes over the last thirty plus years? Ok, so you’re just 25. But that means you’ve lived in a world that has reaped the benefits of that labors of all the queer folk who have gone before you.
You’re creating an unnecessary dichotomy. Nowadays one doesn’t need to choose between having a family and living out and proud, darlin’. Haven’t you seen Modern Family or The Ellen Show?
But pup, surely you’ve noticed that you can be a big fat homo and still have all the other things you want — kids, white picket fence, the whole frealin’ kit and caboodle. And you can do it with a husband, life partner, whatever you want to call your queer lover. You certainly don’t have to lie about who you are: trap yourself and some unlucky woman in a sexless marriage just to be a trendy suburbanite. Holy cow, wake up and smell the coffee!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, I can’t imagine that you’ve not noticed that gay men and lesbians are marrying in some states, having their partnerships legally recognized in others. In fact, countries all over the world are legally recognizing gay and lesbian unions and marriages.
Us gay and lesbian folk have been having families, raising children (our own biological spawn and/or those we’ve adopted) for years and years now. The world is a changin’, don’t cha know. People’s attitudes are changing. All you have to do is search them internets for “gay parenting” and find out how many resources there are out there for breeder-minded ‘mos like you.
Listen doll, you don’t need no stinkin’ Viagra, you just need to be honest with yourself and those around you. You say you’re not ashamed of who you are, that you don’t have some type of self-hatred for yourself. Well I’m sorry dear, but I don’t buy that, not for a minute. Anyone who is willing to sacrifice his life as a sexual being and to deceive others into thinking he is an honorable man by doing so, just so that he can procreate, is either crippled with self-loathing or completely delusional.
How could you have gotten to be a 25 queer dude, without ever gettin’ any queer sex? Sorry, but that simply doesn’t add up. And what kind of husband and father would you be if you started a family built on a lie? Did you miss the whole Senator Craig, Bishop Eddie Long and Ted Haggard debacles? That’s the kind of miserable, closeted existence that awaits anyone who would deny himself and his true identity, for whatever reason — political gain, societal acceptance, religious intolerance or making a family.
And think of the emotional and physical misery you’d be inflicting on the mother of your children. Could you be any more selfish?
Here’s a tip, pup: grow up and then grow your self a pair of cojones. You’ll need them not only for the spawning, but to live authentically and truthfully.
Dr., I’ve been having sex with a friend who is 19 and he expressed that he had feelings for me at a time when I didn’t have feelings for him. We got into an argument and didn’t talk for a few weeks and I noticed that I missed him and now we’re talking sort of, but I feel that now its more physical than anything, on his part. I think I do have feelings for him, but the only time he attempts to talk to me is when he is horny. The biggest issue is that I haven’t come out and I don’t feel it’s the right time for me to, but I think if I did, it would help things between me and him. Could you give me any advice?
Yep, pup, you sound pretty confused all right. But then you can hardly be faulted for your bewilderment, being as young as you are.
But if the truth be known, your youth has very little to do with it. The first thing you oughta know is that people grapple with these weighty concerns all their lives. I don’t know anyone who has all this emotional stuff pinned down. Because just as soon as ya think ya have it all figured out, life throws you a curve ball.
You will find if you haven’t done so already, that there is often a very fine line between love and desire, passion and intimacy and lust and affection. You should also know that sometimes, maybe even most of the time, we are out of sync with the person we are involved with. In the immortal words of Stephen Sondheim — either we are at last on the ground, while they’re in mid air. Or they keep tearing around while we can’t move. Since the beginning of time, most songs, epic love stories and romantic poetry have wrestled with the shifting fortunes of matters of the heart…and the groin.
So if you ever do make sense of all of this in your life, just wait a minute. The whole kit and caboodle will surely collapse like a house of cards around your head. That’s what I’ve found in my life anyhow. I still struggle with all of this and I’m fuckin’ old, don’t cha know.
Actually, I believe that the tension between love and lust is the very thing that gives life its spice. The only thing I’ve been able to discover after all this time is that there isn’t a code to break, just a toboggan ride to be had.
Which bring me to the second comment I want to make. I know that a lot of young people…your age and even younger…are experimenting with sex, and that’s not a bad thing necessarily. I do, however, advise discretion. Keep in mind that most people in our culture freak out when they discover that young people actually have a sex live. To that I would add that you probably know that your 19year old playmate is technically breaking the law by cavorting with you, a minor, right? He could get in a shit-load of trouble for bumping an underage lad like you.
And while there’s just a 3-year difference between you, I’d be willing to guess that your friend is considerably more advanced than you in terms of emotional development. If he isn’t, then there’s something very wrong with him. Just be aware that sometimes a disparity in life experience can be used by the more seasoned partner as a means of manipulating the other. And that’s never a good thing.
In terms of coming out, well that’s best done when you are at ease and comfortable in claiming and owning your sexual identity whatever it might be. Since sexuality is often a very fluid thing, there’s no pressing need to self-identify as one thing or another until ya have enough life experience under your belt to be able to say for sure. And even then you may find that your heart…or your dick will lead you elsewhere. Remember what I said about life throwing you a curve ball just as soon as ya think ya have it all figured out? Well it’s true in this regard too.
Finally, and this is the only absolute I have for you today. If you’re old enough to fuck, you’re old enough to know all about safe sex. And not just know about it, but practice it too. If you’re not using condoms, then you’re just a dumb kid with rocks in his head. And I really want to believe that’s not the case with you. Simply put, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections won’t make an exception for you because of your age. Also, you’ll never come to grips with grown-up emotions and all they entail if you’re just a dumb kid with rocks in his head, if ya catch my drift.