With the closeout of June, comes the end of pride month and with it the 50 years since the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots were demonstrations to counter a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The riots became the catalyst in the long fight for equal rights and protections. Before the rebellion, society and government were very much anti-gay (and anti-anything different to be honest). Few businesses welcomed the LGBT and those that did cared more about the dollars rather than the bodies spending those dollars, but I digress.
Since the riots, the LGBT rights movement has seen its fair share of victories and losses. On the year anniversary of the riots, New York held what is considered to be the first pride parade, doing wonders for the LGBT community. In the ’70s LGBT figures took political office in a very visible way all while certain states banned same-sex marriage. The Rainbow pride flag became a national symbol in the late ’70s. The outbreak of aids in the 80’s halted the progress made up until then due to mass hysteria and misinformation about the disease. In the ’90s Clinton signs both “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the “Defense Against Marriage Acts” that requires soldiers to serve while closeted in the military and not recognizing same-sex marriages as legal on a national scale. During President Barak Obama’s presidency, we saw a massive shift in support of the LGBT community repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, legalizing same-sex marriage in all states, overhauling protections and benefits for the LGBT, and writing into law protections against those victims to hate crimes. In the Trump era presidency, we have seen some major backsliding of these protections, most notably the banning of transgender troops from serving in the military.
I say all of this to point out that while we have made some major strides in equality since Stonewall, we can always do better. In today's political climate it is a scary place for those of the LGBT community. Discrimination has become bolder in those that don’t support equal rights. As an ally to the community, it is my job to call out these injustices and do what I can to keep them from happening. On a large scale, the government seems hell-bent on creating laws that scare LGBT people back into the closet. It seems as if they can complicate and compromise the security of those that are “out” it would rationalize for those that are still closeted that it would be easier for them to remain there.
If I could borrow from Saint Augustine for a second, I’d say that an unjust law is no law at all. With that logic withstanding, an immoral law cannot be just. These laws created from bias and discrimination are both immoral and unjust. We have a long way to true equality in this country. It is important to look to the past so that we know how to look forward to the future. I thank those pioneers, fearless in their endeavors to be seen and heard.
Thank you, Marsha P Johnson. Thank you, Harvey Milk. Thank you, Vito Russo. Thank you, Laverne Cox. Thank you, Ellen Degeneres. Thank you, James Baldwin. Thank you, Sylvia Rivera. Thank you, to all the brave and beautiful individuals that looked discrimination in the face and said: “not today, not anymore.”
It is more important than ever to have your voices heard and your faces were seen. That is what makes things like pride parades and local coalitions crucial to the advancements of rights to the LGBT community. As an ally, it is my job to prop you up and spread your message. It is my job to protect you. I will always see you. I will always hear you. I will always fight for you because LGBT rights are civil rights. We honor these past 50 years of progress and get ready for the years to come until equality is the rule of law because we won’t look away and we won’t give up.
Love is love is love is love is love is love is love.
Until next time readers…
- Bianca A.