“No one of us can be free until we all are free.”
June 1 marks the beginning of Pride Month, worldwide.
- Fifty-two years since the Stonewall Riots that launched the movement; a movement that had been simmering for decades…decades of hiding and harassment, of brutality and shame, of fear and of hate.
- Fifty-one years since the first Pride March…
- a March that has not stopped since the first step was taken on June 28, 1970…the movement that began with the first thrown shoe, the year before.
What has happened in the intervening years as Stonewall itself has become catchphrase and icon is, I think, a gradual lessening of awareness of the extreme, catalytic struggle that brought into the sunlight the inhumanity with which an entire class of people were being seen and treated.
Nowadays, we enjoy strong political and cultural support from increasingly vocal communities, cultures, political parties and multinational corporations (we are, after all not the worst market to garner). But even as this support has grown, the darkness and horror that lie at the roots and foundation of Pride seem for many to have faded from the forefront of general consciousness…from even some of our strongest allies.
As more and more have become advocates and proselytes, supporting Equality, Job Security and Basic Human Rights; their fervent belief in and support of the LGBTQ++ Communities is experienced and shared as they show up at and in annual celebrations and parades. With all that festivity, though, the decades (and centuries) of being viewed and treated as vile and disposable seems sometimes to be getting lost in the feathers, glitter and unicorns.
As we near the Season of Pride, it is important that we remember what we are actually witnessing as we Celebrate. This is not frivolity; this is exhilaration. That glitter was hard fought.
“Pride” is the consciousness of one’s own dignity. Pride, itself, is the manifestation of the regeneration and nurturing of individual self-respect; something that, for a very long time, was beaten, hated, harassed, tortured, oppressed and legislated out of LGBTQ++ beings all over the world…from before there even was an “LGBTQ.”
The Celebrations we see are for Rights and Freedoms fought and won in the face of societal enmity and oppression. The visibility of the Celebrations serve to affirm self-worth and inspire others to continue the fight alongside; as the Fight is not over. There is virtually nowhere on the planet where these hard-won rights are secure, and in many places there are still none.
Often, each battle’s victory is seen and matched by cruelty and death in other parts of the world. There may be some who have joined the annual marches for years and have never seen a gay-bashing. Yet people are brutalized and killed every day, all over the world, for not being heterosexual.
Last month, Alireza Monfared, a 20-year old Iranian boy, was beheaded by his brothers in an “Honor Killing” because he was gay.
Beheaded. By…His… Brothers.
Not to harsh your Buzz, but…
- Just last week in Ohio, a 14-year old boy was attacked and beaten for carrying a Pride Flag at school.
- Gangs are attacking suspected gay men on the beaches of Northeastern Spain.
- Fathers have beaten and killed their sons for being gay.
- Even teachers in high schools across America have been known to hurl gay slurs at non-straight students.
- Pulse Nightclub shooting: June 12, 2016.
Pride Celebrations are a Beacon of Hope and Inspiration to people in our own country and throughout the world.
May we remember what they are for, may we remember why they exist, may we remember who is watching.
The first March was on the anniversary of the riots, as 10,000 people walked from Christopher Street to Central Park; there to cheer and celebrate what they saw as a new era of empowerment, the beginning of a fight to win. This poem, written by Lesbian Poet Fran Winant, captures and evokes the exhilaration of that day.
First shared with me by Sir Ian McKellen in the Green Room at Yankee Stadium before he read this piece to the 50,000 at Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games on June 25 of 1994. (This performance can be viewed on my YouTube Channel at 3:44 on this Video “GGIV Closing Ceremonies Part 2” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJc1lbN-bSY&t=2s )
“…our line winds
into Central Park
and doubles itself
in a snakedance
to the top of a hill
we cover the Sheep Meadow
lifting our arms
we are marching into ourselves
like a body
gathering its cells
we turn to look back
on the thousands behind us
it seems we will converge
until we explode
sisters and sisters
brothers and brothers
Excerpt from “Christopher Street Liberation Day, June 28, 1970” by Fran Winant
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