43 years ago today on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York City. Many people in the nation, including the younger gay generation, are ignorant to the significance of this day in our nation’s history. While June has become National Pride Month, celebrated by parades and parties nationwide, Stonewall is often overlooked.
We simply cannot let that happen. Why is that?
Because without the riots at the Stonewall Inn, caused by gays and lesbians who had grown tired of being persecuted, we would not have the Gay Rights Movement we have today. Without those pioneers for equal treatment under the law, gay pride wouldn’t exist. Neither would same sex marriage or a president that has come out in support of gay marriage.
The progress we made started on the streets of New York City at Stonewall Inn, when the persecuted minority rose up and found its voice, and it is that voice that has carried us as far as we have come and will continue to carry us to full equality. Those voices gave birth to the parades, parties, and clubs we now take for granted because prior to Stonewall, those gatherings were illegal.
That’s what I tell my friends who ask me: I support gay rights, but I don’t understand the “need to parade.” Why do gay people feel compelled to line up in streets in provocative costumes and make spectacles of themselves?
The answer is quite simple–because we now can. Many people have no clue what it’s like to live your life in the dark, but homosexuals do. Now that we are no longer forced inside the dark closet of shame, we “parade” to tell the world that we are here, we are not going anywhere, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Ever. Again.
So, to those brave men and women who fought back at Stonewall, I applaud you, but more importantly I respect how you helped shape the nation from what it was to what it now is. We still have a way to go, but with the strength and the voice you gave us, we will get there.