I haven't talked much on my blog about Gay Pride month.
In Texas June is too hot for parades and parties in the park, at least not without a pool nearby! We celebrate our pride in September when the weather is better. Plus we would be competing with other large cities around the country for people to come to our Pride, or our residents going to other "cooler" cities to their pride festivities. Houston has a parade at night, I need to go some year and see it. But today marks the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, I can't let the day go without saying something!
My first pride celebration was big.
I finally came to terms with my sexuality in Utah in the early 80's and Utah would never had thrown me a party for it!! LOL!
Even after I moved to Las Vegas and Oklahoma City there were no parade of pride celebrations in those cities, too conservative. It was only in the larger cities on the coasts that would dare to hold such gatherings.
So when I moved to Baltimore in 1987 I finally got to participate in my first large pride event, the first March on Washington when the AIDS quilt was first displayed. I went with some friends and I ended up carrying a banner introducing the mid-Atlantic states. I then realized what it means to be proud of who I am. I'm a gay man living in a free country fighting for equal rights for all Americans.
For the few straight readers I have I found this interesting article about Stonewall that gives a lot of the details:
Ever wondered why so many queens are Judy Garland fans? She suffered, she got back up when she was down, she was precociously, ludicrously talented, she liked getting smashed, she starred in the campest film on earth, and, oh yes, she played a formative role in the birth of the modern gay rights movement.
Dateline: June 1969
On Sunday 22 June 1969, Garland was found dead from an overdose in her London home. On Friday 27 June she was buried and a wake was held by her gay fans at the Stonewall Inn in New York. In the early hours of 28 June the police decided to raid the Stonewall.
The Stonewall Inn was located at 53 Christopher Street. It was an after-hours members only club that sold booze without a licence. It was a real dump.
Some sources say that as `Somewhere Over the Rainbow` played on the jukebox, eight plainclothes officers raided the Stonewall Inn, led by Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine. Customers were allowed to leave whilst the owners were arrested. The mood was light, but then it changed when a police wagon appeared and some drag queens and a lesbian were forced into it. The crowd started to get angry, they started attacking the police, who retreated to the bar and locked themselves inside. People started to throw bricks through the windows, more police arrived, some started waving guns, and the disturbance grew into a full-scale riot.
As far as the punters were concerned, the raid was the latest example of police harassment of minority groups. Numerous gay bars had been closed down, people were running out of places to go and they just couldn`t take it anymore. Everyone was sick of being criminalized by a brutal and unsympathetic police force. And then Judy died. People just couldn`t take any more!
Not everyone agreed that what happened at Stonewall was a riot. The New York press downplayed the events, calling it a "rampage." The whole thing took about 45 minutes, according to witnesses. But later that Saturday, in the evening, more people converged at the Stonewall Inn. They closed off the street, chanted slogans and fought back against the police. More disturbances took place over the next few nights, after which people decided to become more organised and develop their own political groups. In late July the Gay Liberation Front was formed and the rest, as they say, is history. Judy would have been proud.