Fourty years ago today, police stormed a Mafia-owned bar in Greenwich Village known to have been frequented by gays. The subsequent riots that occurred over the next day following the brutal treatment of American citizens at the Stonewall Inn are credited with the birth of the modern LGBT movement.
This one event solidified in the minds of homosexual men and women that our government and our society treat us as second-class citizens, denying it’s citizens the right to equality and protection from hate.
Today, despite advances in the movement, we are still second-class citizens. We are denied the right to marry, the right to adopt, the right to serve openly and honorably in our military, and the right to share medical, insurance, hospital visitation, and internment rights enjoyed by mainstream Americans of every race, creed, and religion.
Our government, the one based upon the simple principle that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has failed a segment of it’s population larger than most minorities. Think for a moment…according to the US Census, blacks account for 14% and hispanics make up 15% of the minority culture in this nation.
How many Americans are gay? 2%? 10%. We really don’t know. The stigma of homosexuality in our society still, to this day, forces millions of Americans to live their life in a lie – closeted in fear of their neighbor, their government, their family. Right now, the number could arguably surpass the populace of Asians, American Indians, and other minority groups.
Even as the majority of the American public now approve of gay unions, the repeal of DADT and other rights denied to the LGBT citizen, our government continues to fail to recognize such a right to equality.
Our President, Congress, and senior military are still living twenty years in the past and cast a myopic eye on what the people of this country want for the LGBT community – equality.
But the problems of the community do not specifically lie with the government. We are our own problem.
TIME magazine, in 1966, three years prior to the Stonewall Riots, said this about gays:
Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity—but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him.
We haven’t changed much, have we? Whether the gay male or female merely consigns themselves to defeat, or is complacent with his or her own personal situation, the activism that arose from the riots of the Stonewall Inn forty years ago has subsided. Instead the community has allowed itself to be splintered into factions so numerous, fractile, and divisive we’ve lost sight of the goal.
It’s not about the G, L, B, or T…it’s about Equality!
The gay community will never achieve our goal of equality until such time as we organize with a singular purpose – to effect the changes needed within our government through community activism, financial contributions to our supporters, and yes, withdrawal of financial support to those who are fearful of voicing their support, up to and including the President of this country.
In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued an Executive Order abolishing slavery, thus freeing and providing a path to equality for the black man of America. In in 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which ended brought up the end to racism in the Armed Forces.
I implore you, my friends, to contact your Congressman, your Senator, your Governor, your President, and ask that the road to equality begin.