On this day, in 1969, the public phase of the gay liberation movement began with a much-storied Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Viilage. Tons and tons has been written about it. And that’s why most annual gay and lesbian events are usually in stifling hot weather.
It was also the day I due to be born — I was late, and turn forty later this week — so when I think of this movement, I plot it against my own lifetime.
So the public, loud, organizing, sacrificing, activist face of gay liberation has been around longer than I have been. As biblical scholars know, forty is a number that shows everything has changed: forty days of rain, the forty years in Sinai, Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness.
And life, especially related to civil rights, has improved in the last forty years. But for most GLBT people in the United States, there aren’t any protections, especially where it matters most: in housing and employment discrimination, in adoption and immigration, in retirement and survivorship matters, in taxation and — far too often — in personal safety.
It is still possible to build a (Republican) political career in the United States by attacking GLBT people, both because of public bias and pathetic (Democratic) opposing response. For what other group can you do that?
So when gay people, like myself, try to hold President Obama accountable for pushing reforms
- we’re not “stepping out of line”
- we’re not “distracting the President from more important things”
- we’re not “brats”
- we’re not “co-opting [someone else’s] civil rights movement.”
- we’re not going to fund those who won’t help us
- we do expect the repeal of disciminatory laws
- we do expect our families to be respected — at least before the law — on par with other families
Enough is enough. I’m not going to wait until I’m eighty.
Stay ready for the fight.