It’s amazing how much the world can change in 50 years. Did you know that being gay used to be a crime? Shit, it was illegal in 14 States up until 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled that criminally targeting private citizens for committing sexual acts with a member of the same sex was unconstitutional. Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia all had separate state laws that criminalized sodomy which characterized gay sex in the same light as bestiality and incest.
This June marks 50 years since the Stonewall riots which was the catalyst to spark the PRIDE movement. This movement is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBTQ+). Police used to regularly bust into the the Stonewall Inn Bar to arrest, harass, and beat members of the LGBTQ+ community until they had finally had enough. Greenwich Village, New York erupted in an all out riot led by protests, which lasted for several days. Famously leading the charge were Trans Heroes Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Legend has it one of them possibly “threw the first brick”, regardless all historians place them there at the Inn during the first night of the uprising. Even though they are without a doubt civil rights heroes to the Gay Liberation cause they were sadly were often left on the outside looking in on the very community they swore to protect.
Don’t believe me click HERE and watch the footage from her famous speech where she is berated with anti trans slurs and boos.
She directly calls out the lack of support the trans movement received from the gay movement segmenting into separate factions. This separation and absence of support for these two women is acknowledged and the city of New York will be honoring them both with statues in the months to come. Growth in any instance is difficult and this may be no more apparent than in America’s Civil Rights movement which includes Gay suffrage. In our great Country our Constitution ensures us with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I remember when Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998, delivering a sobering wake up call for anyone with a spec of common decency of human life. If anything Matthew Shepard’s death manifested into a rally cry showing the true discrimination these people face to this day. In my 31 years I have seen progress myself in Pop-Culture moments like when Ellen DeGeneres came out on network TV to provide inclusion at then the highest public level.
At the core of all of the research I did for this article the reoccurring theme was “identity”. Who we are is defined by the harvest of our true character, not by how other people view us. I can only image, it is hard to place myself in these struggles but the agony of not belonging in society is a feeling I can relate to. Stone wall was the spark that resulted in LGBTQ+ progress which has now finally led into the institution of Marriage thanks to the Years of lobbying, advocacy, and the Supreme Court. This does not mean the fight is done. Now with new Supreme Court powers in place the Religious Conservatives on both sides may go after these rights again. If they do, we will fight back.