PRIDE 2019: The 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF STONEWALL

Last Year’s Pride Parade

Today is World Pride Day.
We Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the STONEWALL Riot,
Widely considered to be the Birth of the Gay Rights Movement.

1969.
What a fervent time!
The Civil Rights Movement was in Full Swing!
The Women’s Movement was in Full Swing.
And another Marginalized Group — Gay People — now got their turn.

We were about to see the first person walk on the Moon!
WoodStock is getting underway this Summer of ‘69.
People are fed up with the Political Nonsense in this Country and the idea that any Group continues to be marginalized or denied their rights!
Richard Nixon is sworn in as the 37th President of the United States on January 20th, and we naively conclude that this will be the nadir of our country’s Presidential Administrations!
We had no idea…

What a Time!

Pride Two Years Ago

And what a Time to Emulate!
In 1969, there is something for Everyone!
The Birth of the Internet! Yes, the ARPANET out in California makes its first connection, sparking one of the most significant developments in Civilization.
The first LED ZEPPELIN album is released — the year before, the Band had toured as “The New Yardbirds,” but then changed their name — Good Move!
And LED is not yet a kind of Lightbulb!
THE BEATLES give their last public performance.
JOHN LENNON marries YOKO ONO, composes Give Peace a Chance, and shortly after announces to THE BEATLES that he is leaving the group.
GOLDA MEIR becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.
John Schlesinger’s MIDNIGHT COWBOY is released, making stars out of DUSTIN HOFFMAN and JON VOIGHT.
The MANSON FAMILY invades the home of ROMAN POLANSKI and SHARON TATE, murdering TATE, eight and a half months pregnant, and several of their friends.
The first ATM in the United States is installed.
We see the premieres of SCOOBY DOO on CBS, MONTHY PYTHON’s FLYING CIRCUS on the BBC, and SESAME STREET on National Educational Television (NET, the forerunner of PBS)! (“NET” too would come to have a different meaning!)
The NEW YORK METS win the World Series!
WAL-MART incorporates!
DAVE THOMAS opens the first WENDY’S.
Vietnam War Protests begin.
The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet debuts its passenger flight.

We see the birth of CHAZ (then CHASTITY) BONO, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, and CORY BOOKER,
And the death of DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER and SKIP JAMES.
The Nobel Prize for Literature goes to SAMUEL BECKETT,
And the Academy Award for Best Picture to the musical Film, OLIVER!

On May 15th of that year, ROBERT RAYFORD, a teenager in St. Louis, Missouri dies of pneumonia — fifteen years later, research would point to his death as the first case of AIDS in North America.
On June 22nd, JUDY GARLAND dies of a drug overdose at her home in London.
And On June 28th…

Morning Coffee, Today

As I have been told the story…
There was this bar in Greenwich Village, New York, off of Sheridan Square.
The STONEWALL Inn.
It was Mafia-owned and served overpriced watered down drinks.
It was popular, in that men who loved men could hang out there and meet one another — at the time, this Love was referred to as “The Love that Dare Not Speak its Name!”
The Cops came in routinely, took their payoffs, and left.
This night, for whatever reason, the Cops were feeling a little tougher.
They decided they would harass these men. They began to push them back against the wall.
Any men of notoriety, or who hoped to be of notoriety someday, fled.
They couldn’t be mixed up with something like this — or found there!
That left only those with Nothing to Lose.
As JAMES BALDWIN put it, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”

PRIDE, a few years back…

We. Fought. Back.

It was the Drag Queens and the Trans People, largely People Of Color, who remained — one took off their high heel shoe and threw it at the Officers. This was followed by the hurling of beer cans and bricks, leading to a riot that took to the streets and lasted several days.
Homosexuality was illegal in 49 states, and widely considered to be a mental illness.
SYLVIA RIVERA, who fought that fateful night whom I knew, and whose ashes sit in an urn on the altar of my Church*, http://www.mccny.org would say in an interview, “You get tired of being just pushed around!”
This Fighting Back…
This Standing Up for Oneself…
This Courage to be who you are,,,
The event is referred to simply as, STONEWALL!

*Although the Vatican does not yet Canonize LGBTQ+ People who do God’s Work, fighting for Social Justice, last month MAYOR BILL DEBLASIO announced the building of two statues honoring SYLVIA RIVERA and MARSHA PAY-IT-NO-MIND JOHNSON which will be erected in one of the prominent public parks in the Stonewall neighborhood — the first such statues to honor Transgender Activists, anywhere in the world (at least, that we know of)!
Progress! And Pride!

PRIDE, a few years back…

Today we Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of STONEWALL,
“WORLD PRIDE!”
I am Proud to be a part of a Community in which those of us with Nothing to Lose stand up for who we are!
I am Grateful to have been born into a Gay Rights Movement about to happen, and to have lived through the birth of that movement, and to see its Fiftieth Anniversary!
I am Proud to be the Person I am and to Believe in Myself! (And neither of those things is always easy!)
I am Proud of my Community — of the Older Folks who came before me and who Offer so Much, in terms of History, in terms of perspective, and in terms of example.
I am proud of the Young People who are So Full of Wonder, and who continue to progress the rights of Queer and Trans People at such an accelerated rate!
I am Proud that in the face of being told that the best course of action would be to hide who we are from the World,
We stand up and show the World who we Really Are!

PRIDE, a few years back…

And that’s what PRIDE is!
It is the ability to Own who we Are,
And to know that Love is Always Good! It’s a Chance to STAND UP!

You are Welcome to Celebrate with us!
What started as a Gay Movement — and it was called a Gay Movement back then — is now an LGBTQ+ Movement, encompassing So Many Different types of People fighting Marginalization and seeking acceptance and our full Human Rights WorldWide!
And I suppose among the Queer Community, I have now Lived into what some of the younger folks might term “a Queer Elder.”
I find this incomprehensible, as I feel so much more in common with the twenty-something I was a moment ago, standing on the curb at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue watching the then ‘Pride March,” when my friend STEVE saw me, stepped out of the March, walked over to the curb, hugged me, and invited me in…
“Will you March with us?” he asked me.
I made some excuse and STEVE gave me a smile of admonition and encouragement, with a kind of “We are here when you are Ready!” Welcoming Gesture.
What Grand Invitation!
We are Here when you are Ready to Celebrate being Yourself!

PRIDE, a few years back…

Tired and Broken and Battered?
A Little Roughed Up?
Weary of Fighting?
Be Proud of Who You Are!

Are you a Mother who put aside your Dreams to raise and nurture the Dreams of Your Kids?
Are you a Creative Artist whose Opportunities have been denied, or simply not yet appeared, at least so far as your awareness allows you to see?
Are you someone being Redirected in Life and you are feeling somewhat aimless like you knew where you were going a moment ago, and now you’re not so sure what you are even doing here?
Be Proud of Who You Are!

Macy’s Windows, June 2019

Are you an LGBTQ+ Person who is still fighting for Full Equality and even with the extraordinary Progress of the last five decades, you see how far we still have to go?
Were you there when that first high heeled shoe was thrown?
Do you suddenly find yourself a “Queer Elder” in a Community that, often guilty of Ageism, seems to thrive exclusively on Youth and Beauty?
Are you Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Non-Binary, CisGender, Gay-Friendly, or Anything Else Fighting for the Rights and Equality of All People?
Be Proud of Who You Are!

Let Today be a Reminder to all of us to be Proud of Who we Are
With All our Flaws and Imperfections!
With the Courage of our battered Souls!
We, who have nothing to Lose, still have a lot to Say!

Throw that Shoe!

A random construction site in Chelsea, 2019

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