Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albuquerque, NM; Bangor, ME; Barcelona, Spain; Cheyenne, WY; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Doncaster, UK; Dublin, Ireland; Durban, South Africa; Finnmark, Norway; Harlem, NY; Helsinki, Finland; Houston, TX; Istanbul, Turkey; Lexington, KY; London, UK; London, UK (Black Pride); Malmö, Sweden; México, DF, México; Oslo, Norway; Paris, France; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; New York, NY; Oslo, Norway; St. Louis, Mo; St. Petersburg, FL; Salem, MA; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA; San José, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Seattle, WA; Swansea, UK; Toronto, ON; Utrecht, Netherlands; Valencia, Spain; Västerås, Sweden.
Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Frameline 37 Film Festival, San Francisco, CA; Pink Dot Festival, Singapore; Canadian Rockies International Rodeo, Strathmore, AB.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Stonewall: 1969. What can I possibly tell you about Stonewall that you don’t already know? It has become our Gettysburg, the iconic battle that represents a significant turning point. As the Civil War has been divided to two eras before Gettysburg and after, so, too, has our history been identified as pre-Stonewall and post-Stonewall. As with the civil war, there were gay rights confrontations before Stonewall, and there have been police raids after, but Stonewall remains the fulcrum on which the weight of gay history shifts from unmitigated fear and oppression to a confident and unrelenting push for dignity and full citizenship.
Americans made little note of small village of Gettysburg before 1863, and today the minutia of that great battle is mostly left to Civil War buffs. For the rest of us, Gettysburg is our collective shorthand for the ideal of human sacrifice and valor, and of freedom. And so it is also with Stonewall. It used to be a little-known place, and then it was an event. But more so today Stonewall is an idea, one that was partially fulfilled in New York with the enactment of marriage equality last year. But that is only one part of the idea. The higher idea of dignity and the full rights and privileges of citizenship remains elusive for too many people. The promise of Stonewall has not been fulfilled for them — or even for us who live and work where discrimination in its many forms remains perfectly legal. But because of Stonewall and what it has come to mean, we know that there is no turning back. There is only movement forward. Stonewall demands nothing less.
First Gay Marches to Commemorate Stonewall: 1970. The actual Stonewall uprising received scant attention in the media. There were very few reporters there and only a bare handful of photos taken of the uprising as it occurred. By in the space of a year, Stonewall had already become a single word that meant more than just a run-down bar in the Village. Gay people across the country took June 28 as their own Independence Day with commemorative marches taking place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and, of course, New York. The day was celebrated as “Christopher Street Liberation Day” for several years before Pride took over. (The day is still called CSD, or Christopher Street Day, in Germany.) One of the more interesting articles to appear in the mainstream media for those first Christopher Street Liberation Day marches was a brief description of the parade up Christopher Street itself on June 28, 1970 that appeared in July 11 edition of The New Yorker:
A number of policemen were standout around, looking benevolent and keeping an eye on things. Many of the marchers were carrying banners that identified them as members of homosexual organizations, like the Gay Liberation Front, the Mattachine Society, and the Gay Activists Alliance. The symbol of the G.A.A. is a lambda, which physicists use as a symbol for wavelength, and many of the kids were wearing purple T-shirts with yellow lambdas on them.
Most of the marchers chatted in anticipatory tones, and a few reporters were among them looking for interviews. One approached two boys standing together and asked them the question that reporters always ask: “How do you feel?”
One of the boys said, “I feel proud.”
At the head of the parade, one boy stood carrying the American flag. Near him stood a man talking to another man. “Homosexuals are very silly,” said the first man. “They congregate in certain areas and then spend all other time walking up and down the street ignoring each other.”
While “Pride” was still several years ago, you can already see that “pride” was already the operative word for the day. The author (whose name is not given) reported that marchers carried signs reading “Homosexual is not a four letter word,” “Latent Homosexuals Unite!” and “Hi Mom!” Anti-gay protesters were there as well, one with a sign reading simply “Sodom + Gomorrah.” But despite a few sour notes, the parade was more than just a success: it was cathartic for some:
An eighteen-year-old boy from Long Island who was marching in the middle of the parade with his arms around two friends said, “I’ve been up since six-thirty, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t going to come, but then I figured I’m gay and I might as well support my people. So here I is!” Sometimes the marchers addressed the onlookers. “Join us!” they called, and “Come on in, the water’s fine!” They got a few grins for this, and once or twice somebody did step out from the crowd to join the parade. These people were roundly cheered by the marchers. Just south of Central Park, a well-dressed middle-aged woman on the sidewalk flashed a V-sign. A marcher, a young man with a mustache, shouted to a cop, also a young man with a mustache, “It isn’t so bad, is it?” The cop shouted back, “No!”
As the parade entered the Park, a young marcher said, “Would you believe it! It looks like an invading army. It’s a gay Woodstock. And after all those years I spent in psychotherapy!”
A friend of his laughed and said, “What will your shrink do without you? He’s dependent on your for the payments on his car.”
The Village Voice has another first-person account of the 1970 celebration.
[Thanks to BTB reader Rob for providing a copy of the New Yorker article.]
John Inman: 1935.The quintessential British poofter known for his role as Mr. Humphries in Are You Being Served? He was also a pantomime dame, a distinctly British form of drag performance (Dame Edna is actually Australian, but think of her and you get the idea.) “I’m a tits and feathers man,” he once said in explaining his love for show business. His character’s high camp and trademark high-pitched “I’m free!” in Are You Being Served? became a catchphrase in Britain.
Not everyone was amused. He was picketed by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality because they charged that his character posed a bad image for gay men. Inman said, “they thought I was over exaggerating the gay character. But I don’t think I do. In fact there are people far more camp than Mr. Humphries walking around this country. Anyway, I know for a fact that an enormous number of viewers like Mr. Humphries and don’t really care whether he’s camp or not. So far from doing harm to the homosexual image, I feel I might be doing some good.” In December 2005 he and his partner of 35 years, Ron Lynch, took part in a civil partnership ceremony at London’s Westminster Register Office. Inman died in 2007.
Jim Kolbe: 1942. He is the former Republican Congressman for Arizona’s 8th congressional district — the district more recently held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before she resigned after being seriously injured in a 2011 shooting. Kolbe was outed in 1996 after voting for the Defense of Marriage Act. He was reelected to his seat in 1998, and in 2000, he became the first openly gay person to address the Republican National Convention, although his speech did not address gay rights. He also continued to defend his vote for DOMA. “My vote on the Defense of Marriage Act was cast because of my view that states should be allowed to make that decision, about whether or not they would recognize gay marriages,” he said. “Certainly, I believe that states should have the right, as Vermont did, to provide for protections for such unions.” He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.
By the time he was wrapping up his congressional service in 2006, Kolbe was a supporter of same-sex marriage, telling local audiences in Tucson that “in a few years,” same-sex marriage would be normal and uncontroversial. In 2008, his good friend Tim Bee, who was the state Senate Majority Leader, announced that he would run against Giffords for Congress, Kolbe agreed to serve in Bee’s election campaign. Kolbe withdrew his support however when Bee cast his tie-breaking vote to place the proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot.
David Kopay: 1942. A former American football running back in the National Football League before retiring in 1972, David Kopay became one of the first professional male athletes to come out as gay in 1975. His 1977 biography, David Kopay Story, dished about the sexual adventures of his fellow heterosexual football teammates and revealed their widespread homophobia. In 1986, Kopay revealed his brief affair with Jerry Smith, who played for the Washington Redskins from 1965–1977 and who died of AIDS in 1986 without ever having publicly come out of the closet. He is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation, and he has been active in the Federation of Gay Games. Since Kopay came out, only two other former NFL Players have come out as gay: Roy Simmons (1992), and Esera Tuaolo (2002). But to this day there have been no active NFL players who have come out while still playing.
In 2007, Kopay announced he would leave an endowment of $1 million to the his alma mater University of Washington’s Q Center, a resource and support center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and faculty. He has said that it is one of the most important efforts he will ever undertake.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?