When you think of gay pride, what do you think of?
I know I used to think of Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. It is the most famous one that we remember the most. But there were a few events that pre-date Stonewall. One was in Los Angeles in May 1959 at Cooper's Donuts. Police entered and asked for the ID of patrons and tried to arrest two drag queens, male sex workers, and a gay man when the onlookers started to throw coffee, tea, donuts, and trash at the officers. Who fled without making an arrest. Then from April to May of 1965, at Dewey's Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA, there was a sit-in lead by three teenagers (2 males and 1 female). They staged the sit-in protest as they were refused service. The restaurant's policy was to refuse service to anyone exhibiting improper behavior and presumed to be homosexual. The three were arrested and charged with and convicted of disorderly conduct. The following year in 1966, in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, Trans and Gay Youth held a protest against the police sweeps. They protested by sweeping the streets and holding signs. Three years later, Stonewall happened. The one thing they all have in common besides being fed up with the police has Trans women of Color and People of Color lead the fight for gay liberation.
After World War II, we had the Lavender Scare, After where laws were being used to arrest anyone who was presumed to be gay or lesbian or caught performing any homosexual acts. The police, the church, and politicians did everything to kill our community—police beatings, arrests, loss of jobs, and disowned by friends and family. If you were caught, your name, age, and address were published in the newspaper. Your employer could fire you, the banks could deny you, you were refused service anywhere. But it didn't matter. They found ways to be together. They had to be extremely careful because the police would dress in plain clothes and arrest guys cruising in the park. In some courts, the officers had to engage in sexual acts to stick because there is no case without anything improper behavior taking place. This became known as Queer Baiting, you go to the men's room, and you see a guy flash his dick to you, and if you react, you got arrested. The religious conservatives tried to paint all queers as devil-loving deviants. Which still is the narrative some of them like to shout. Anywho, the police would raid bars, restaurants, hotels, houses, anywhere and everywhere that was frequent by people who exhibited improper behavior. That improper behavior included sexual acts between people of the same sex, cross-dressing, trans people, especially trans people of color, masculine women, feminine men. Anything or anything that didn't fit the stereotypical terms of normal.
In Hollywood, after the 1920's Hollywood crackdown on homosexual behavior. Many of Hollywood's leading men and women were closeted and married to keep their careers. There was the Hays Code in Hollywood, which meant no gay acts of sex, no interracial stories, no cross-dressing, or anything. But who had actors and actresses like Marlena Dietrich dress up in a top hat and tails, she was a bisexual woman. You had actresses like Tallulah Bankhead, Hattie McDaniels, who had relationships with women. The actor likes Rock Hudson, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Sal Mineo, who had relationships with men. Montgomery Clift was tortured by his homosexuality even though he was married to a woman. Van Johnson was gay. But because the Hays Code was in place, the studios would lose a ton of money for the pictures they cast gay actors in. They weren't allowed to be who they were. Rock Hudson entered a lavender marriage with his manager's secretary. Hollywood producers who were gay and no one suspected often used it to their advantage to sleep with inspiring actors and actresses. Rock Hudson came out and disclosed he was dying from AIDS. Marlon Brando married women and had children as most actors of his day had done.
No, wherein this country was safe for the LGBTQIA+ community. Because the police, the politicians, and the churches were gunning for them every step. Trying to wipe us from the map. In the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic hit the gay community, the religious church nuts and right-wing conservatives praised God for his killing of the gays. Now I am not known to the bible verses they often use. But they forget the bible is not to be lived by word for word. It's a way to love and treat people. None of them can speak for God or Jesus in their creation of the human race. None of them show love like Jesus spoke of to the LGBTQIA+ Community. The true Christians do; they are the ones who show up to pride events hugging and saying sorry to those in the community which the church hurt. They are the ones who hold signs that say God Loves You. They get the real message of Love that Jesus spoke off. True Christians welcome all to their church, hearts, and minds. They are the ones who are accepting of the person. Regardless, enough of the Love, the sinner hate the sin; love unconditionally. Growing up, I was bullied for being gay, which I had no idea what it meant. And I was wondering what the hell is going on. Learning about the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, I was shocked that people thought the murder of another human being by a virus was a good thing. How can they even call themselves children of God? Still, today I am convinced they aren't real Christians. They are dark entities afraid of anything that goes against them that they go bat shit crazy. They lose sight of the true message or, in fact, show they never had the real message to begin with.
For almost 70 years, if not more, it was illegal to be gay in this country, and in some places, gay sex is outlawed. The reason we have pride parades is not to celebrate as people want us to. It is to protest to be loud, to be ourselves. To honor the Trans women of color, the people of color who started the Gay Liberal Movement formed the LGBTQIA+ Community. When I started going to Philly Pride in 2015, my thought goes to those at Stonewall who rioted like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson. To those who fought in the wars, even those during Don't Ask Don't Tell. The history of our Culture is a deep and enriching one. I know I went off on rants and may have forgotten things. But Pride is more than a block party, a festival, or parade; it's more than a celebration. It should be a living, breathing protest of We are Here We're Queer. Get over it!!!
Happy Pride 2021 Brian