Op-Ed: When Stonewall was a Rights Riot, not a Party or Parade

Via Facebookook: Jecu Estrenos

(Mirror) This week, SFGN is proud to share with you the release and publication of our Spring Mirror, featuring a collage and collection of stories representing and illuminating the breadth and beauty of LGBT life in South Florida. This is no small achievement. We were not always so free to publicly participate in the life of our communities.

The year 2019 is a special one for LGBT America. From shore to shore, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. A little gay bar in Greenwich Village gave birth to our movement for civil rights, On a quiet summer night in Manhattan, a small group of angry homosexuals stood up against continued persecution and wrongful prosecution, They righteously rebelled, revolted and rioted. They said, with words and deeds, “No More.” 

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(Photo by Diana Davies, Stonewall Inn, 1969)

-Courtesy of New York Public Library, Manuscipts $ Archives Division-

That was 50 years ago. A half century later, gay Americans no longer live in dark closets or gather in secret places. We are the mentors and mayors of our town. We have not just survived, but thrived. We are not apart from our communities. We are a part of them. Our meeting places and bars are on Main Street. We publish mainstream magazines, serve in our nation’s armed forces, and lawfully marry others of our same sex. We hold our own parades. Still, we are not home free. 

As we applaud our achievements and celebrate our victories, there are still contests to fight, and battles to be won. Bullying has not come to an end. Advocacy for the Neanderthal policy of gay conversion therapy still has a voice. Equal rights in the workplaces has not won universal legal success. We are just beginning to recognize the wrongs we have for too long inflicted upon the transgender community. All of us still have to fight a never ending battle against those who still deny and discriminate against our dignity.

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(Via Facebook)

Of course, LGBT America has come a long way. Today, we fight AIDS, not people with AIDS. We pass laws that protect us from persecution. We have International gay games and worldwide pride games. But lest we forget, gays are still hung in Kenya, tortured in Eastern Europe and jailed in Saudi Arabia. Holding a worldwide soccer tournament two years from now in a place like Qatar is stunningly unforgivable. We can find comfort in our lives, to be sure. But we can never stand for complacency. We can never acquiesce to abuse.

Our duty as we move forward with our lives is to remember one fundamental principle: that while some of us are celebrating by the shore, many of us are still drowning in the ocean. We can’t let our lives become apathetic; our voices become silent. 

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(Via: West Village Historical Walking Tour)

Our newspapers and magazines can’t just marvel at our majesty. We have to remind ourselves of our duty to others. No man is an island. We have to do more than illuminate our parties. Our words need to mirror our realities. Our eyes can’t be shut to the world around us.

We remember Harvey Milk as a LGBT rights hero, one of the first gay Americans ever elected to public office. A San Francisco city supervisor, he spoke for Gay America. He was shot and killed while so serving. He should not just be remembered as a ‘gay icon.’ He was an American hero. By fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community, he fostered universal justice for Americans everywhere. 

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(1969 Stonewall Inn Riot, by Allan Tannenbaum)

This month, we move our clocks forward for daylight savings time. We can spring forward every year, but we can’t ever afford, as a gay community, to forget our past. We must jealously guard our rights and assert our principles. Those who seek to turn black the clock must know we will march proudly, speak firmly, and fight furiously to maintain our place at the table. 

LGBT Americans never should have been second class citizens in the first place. We never will be so again. We do not speak for one political party. We speak up for everyone’s inalienable rights, to live the life we choose, and love the ones we want. Be proud, not apologetic. Be who you are.

Enjoy our magazine then, and find a place in your home or business for others to share it. Most of all, find a place in your heart to appreciate our accomplishments. We have all come a long way, but still, as Robert Frost once wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”

-"Thank You" Norm for reminding us to never forget Stonewall!

J2 

 


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