June 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm / by admin
This month marks the Pride Parade in DC and a lot of other cities, both major and minor, and we here at Pekoe happen to be big fans of both the parade and the sentiment.
The Pride Parade happens in June for a very good reason. Back in June of 1969, a bar called the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was raided by the police. It was raided for three reasons. First, it didn’t have a liquor license. Second, it was a bar frequented by gay men for the purpose of dancing. And third, the guy who was managing the place was behind in the bribes that he was paying to the police so the police wouldn’t raid the place for being both an unlicensed liquor establishment and a gay bar, both of which were illegal at the time.
It’s easy to forget that homosexuality used to be illegal. It’s also easy to forget that in a lot of states people would be arrested and carry criminal records for the rest of their lives if they were caught engaging in homosexual acts. And we mean criminal. It was a felony in a lot of states. And a lot of states were actually devoting time and resources to try to catch homosexuals “in the act,” which says less about gay people and more about where we were as a country.
People would lose their jobs if they were found out to be gay. The government wouldn’t hire gay people for fear of blackmail, which was pretty rich considering that the police department in New York was blackmailing tons of gay bars. People had to live lives that were disguised and guarded, despite being consenting adults who were not hurting anybody.
The standard operating procedure when the police raided a gay bar was for everyone to meekly wander outside and get into the back of the police truck, then taken to the police station, then booked, and then to have their lives ruined. All for gathering with other consenting, like-minded people and having a few drinks.
But this time, the patrons involved did not go meekly. Some of them didn’t go at all. Some of them in fact rioted.
We aren’t big fans of rioting. There are a million different ways to get your point across without throwing trash cans and breaking windows. But in this case we’d like to think that we would have been right there with them.
Shortly after the riot, gay people began to organize and march. Part of it was to make a political point, and part of it was to show people that gays and lesbians were not freaks. They weren’t creepy lizard people looking to convert the innocent. They were, and still are, perfectly normal human beings who occupy positions in every strata of society. They are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.
It’s easy to become complacent considering the speed with which gay marriage has become the law of the land in so many states, and considering how in many places, open homophobia is met with scorn and embarrassment. But you have to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that beating up gay people was considered a sport in some circles. And there are also lots of places where discrimination against gays is considered “religious liberty.” Pride marches are not just a matter of ensuring that gays and lesbians have equal rights. It’s also a matter of making sure that they keep them. So if there’s a pride march in your city, support it, ok? Ok.