I have been meaning to write this for a year now. I started it and of course got distracted during the course of time. But now the timing couldn’t be better, literally as it is Gay Pride weekend here in New York City.
This year the three grand marshal’s of the gay pride parade are: Jazz Jennings from her TLC show, Subhi Nahas a Syrian refugee, and Cecilia Chung an AIDS activist. The weekend kicks off with a rally honoring the Stonewall riots, with many more performances, vigils, and activities leading up to the parade.
Last year’s parade had eighty floats and over three hundred participants of all kinds. It was the largest celebration since the tradition began in 1970 (a year after the riots at the Stonewall Inn).
Yesterday I decided to look up the word “pride” in the dictionary. I found that it is defined as:
· A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own accomplishments, or
· A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect.
This is a concept we should all be familiar with. I am.
We as human beings are all works in progress. If we aren’t then that explains how ignorance reigns supreme and is taught and passed on through many generations.
I have always believed in the idea of working on myself (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/12/for-my-34-year-old-truth.html) and loving myself more than anyone else. Self-esteem may take longer to achieve for some rather than others but like I always say; “if you don’t love yourself you will never be able to love someone else”.
I am not sure where or when I first heard the term gay or how I learned what it meant. It seems to me now that it was just par for the course of growing up. I don’t remember who my first gay friend was but I have had many in my life. It never seemed anything but normal to me, but I am an educated, functional New Yorker. Sadly the world is all to familiar with hate. Hate for anyone different than them. Hate that knows no boundary of race, glass, or gender.
I know that for much of my life I always wanted to attend the San Francisco gay pride parade. I don’t really know why, I suppose I liked the unity of it. Besides who doesn’t love San Francisco? My interest in the infamous resident of San Francisco, Harvey Milk, certainly added to my attraction to this city of equal love. Harvey Milk and his powerful story has always moved me especially when I learned in law class that this was the case with the so-called “Twinkie Defense”. Makes me sick.
As I have gotten older I have had an increased in my love of history and historic landmarks that naturally include sites of civil rights actions. Civil right monuments drive me to travel to places like Savannah, Georgia (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/03/for-hard-hearted-hannah-vamp-of.html) and leave me with a strong desires to go visit Birmingham, Alabama. In New York City the Stonewall Inn is at the top of that list. I am ashamed I have not yet been there but I am on my way.
The researcher in me had a lot of work to do for this blog. I learned many fascinating things. The facts in regards to The Stonewall Inn are among some of my favorites so I had to share.
These two are eye opening:
· It was originally owned by the Mob. Yep that kind of Mob. Gay bars were illegal until 1967 so the Mob took advantage to make money while paying off the police, something they were very good at.
· The name of the bar is a reference to a book published 1930 about a love affair with the author and her female partner.
When I was in college I studied people in all kinds of society. Clearly I was a Sociology major, a topic I still enjoy. In my Gender Roles and Identity class I read a book by Robb Forman Dew called “The Family Heart, A Memoir of When Our Son Came Out”. On the cover of the book is part of the review by the Los Angeles Times: “Remarkable….Dew has something important to say to every parent, every adult child, and every family”. The book is about the discovery her son was gay and how their family dealt with it. It was certainly an education for them and thus for others touched by the story. I was really moved and the author’s honesty. This book was published in 1993, which now feels like a lifetime ago to me. I definitely intend to reread it sometime soon.
Another story that has also played a huge part in my education of just how far evil will go when two paths cross that shouldn’t. In 1998 the Matthew Shepard murder took the world by storm. The horrific way he was tortured and killed insights a rage in me I can barely stand. My hands are actually trembling as it type this. I wish the murderers would have suffered in the exact same way they made Matthew (I will not be spelling out the horrid details here as I feel its disrespectful). Then maybe, just MAYBE justice would be served.
I remember at the time of the sentencing of these low lives, Mrs. Shepard asked that they be spared the death penalty. She wanted them to remember the mercy she granted them everyday, despite the lack thereof for her son. She is a hero in her own right, certainly a braver, kinder woman than I am.
In recent years watching the documentary “Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” made by the friends who loved and lost someone so dear to them, just reminds me of how often evil triumphs over love. Why is our society so unable to adapt as a whole?
The comparison in my mind between sexuality and race discrimination resides very deep within me. I would love to explore that topic in a book I write someday. I hope by then the idea of prejudice for these two issues at least will seem bizarre by then. The same way I view the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia where the issue of a mixed race marriage was made legal.
Unfortunately I had previous plans this weekend and will not have time to join in the celebrations for pride or attend the parade. However, I don’t believe that one weekend is enough. I believe in celebrating who I am and who others are year round. There are no parades or holidays specifically for single white women so I have to make sure I take time every day to revel in who I am. It’s not bragging if it’s true.
As the Matthew Shepard Fountain’s motto goes: “Help Us Erase Hate”. We each have to do our part, even if that means just loving ourselves enough not to inflict our opinions onto other people.
I know that transgender is the hot topic around discrimination issues. But it is important to remember that previous unpopular social groups are still struggling despite the protection in the law of their rights. After all gay marriage was only recently settled. Public opinion takes a long time to change before the law feels the pressure to move ahead.
Going forward it is not a matter of what class do we next protect but rather finally and truly accepting that #AllLivesMatter.
I am feeling a lot of Pride today. I sincerely hope you are too.
For More Information:
For the Must Read Articles:
Celebrities share their first experience in a gay bar:
First hand account of the first gay pride parade:
For My Other Civil Rights Blogs: