There is a terrific article on 365Gay.com about an important event fastly approaching. The Stonewall Riot - the event which catapalted the gay rights movement from almost non-existant to pissed off protestors that spanned the nation - will be seeing its 40th anniversary this month. The article goes into the history of what happened that night and compares it to the rallies and protests we're seeing today for LGBT equality.
There was a hymn we used to sing in church back when I was a little choir boy. The verse of the song went We've come a long way, Lord. A mighty long way. As I was reading the article it made me realize just how far we have come. Back in the days of Stonewall, gays and lesbians, drag queens and transexuals were not interested in equality. They were just trying to end the bullying and harassment they received from every aspect of society including the police. Just in case you're not aware it was illegal for two men to have sex. It was illegal for two men to dance together. And it was illegal to cross-dress.
Though we still have a long way to go, we need to appreciate the accomplishments we've made. Accomplishments that have come thanks to the hell-raisers at Stonewall. Accomplishments that have come thanks to heroes like Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin. Accomplishments that have come thanks to our many HIV/ AIDS Service organizations. Accomplishments that have come thanks to Prop 8 protestors and same-sex marriage organizers. And accomplishments that come thanks to the visibility of the many LGBT individuals that choose to live their life open and honestly.
Sodomy laws ended in 2003 because the case Lawrence vs. Texas made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Funding for prevention and intervention of HIV/AIDS is possible because groups like ACT-UP acted up and refused to be silent when gay men were dying left and right. Same-sex individuals can not only dance together now but do so as such fabulous functions like pride celebrations and circuit parties across the country and around the world. Not only is cross-dressing no longer illegal but several boys in dresses (i.e. RuPaul, Sylvestor, Lady Bunny) have enjoyed national and international fame and success. Yes, we've come a mighty long way.
But I won't get it twisted. We still have a long way to go. Until my brothers and sisters in uniform stop being fired we have to press on. Until all states grant us the right to marry we have to press on. Until employment non-disrimination protection is provided for all of the LGBT community (and we must include the T) then we must press on. Until gays and lesbians have the right to parent and adopt children like heterosexuals have then we must press on.
I'm smart enough to know that we will not get to the mountain top anytime soon. This journey that we're on is simultaneously exciting and frightening. But as I look around and I think things over, where we are now is soooo far from where we were, that just for a few minutes I won't complain. Yes we've come a long way Lord. A mighty long way.