June 28, 1969, the usual crowd of men and women gathered on an unusually hot night to be community with each other in their local Stonewall Inn bar. Mostly persons of color, each party mostly dressed in the clothes of the other gender, a crime in New York in those days. They were trying to feel safe in their bar that had twice that week been raided by New York police. In the early AM, plainclothes and undercover officers started their typical harassment of patrons with bullying, not only with words but physical assault, as they rounded up for arrest those to be brought “to justice”. For those in drag, arrest would mean exposure of their private personhood resulting in loss of jobs and family, among things.
Such were the expectations of both parties: power versus submission; not expected was the reaction of patrons excessively hurt by arresting police. Those in drag fought back.
The full story of the “Stonewall Riots” became history. It was a step beyond a growing trend by gays and lesbians attempting by peaceful demonstrations illustrations on how same-sex-natured or transsexual were average persons just wanting freedom to live ordinary lives as other citizens. It was a provoked action, it was an impulsive response. It sparked a worldwide movement: PRIDE. It set about making right multiple layers of social, cultural and religious antagonism against gay, lesbian, and trans persons. It was a call for justice and equality.
Although the early years of Pride among Sexual Diversity, it came during the years of other interrelated groups of persons seeking justice regarding legal, political and religious equality, not special rights: Women and People of Color, to name a few. Only time passing has faded the struggle that brought about what changes protest have moved into place, of which conservatives of our current times challenge and seem to legislate back to former oppressions.
It is important that every current generation, from our eldest to our youngest, learn the history of all who struggle(d) for justice to live one’s good life according to God’s plans for each. Celebrate Pride within Sexual Diversity, including men, women, and children of all ages, colors, cultures and religions by living the truth: LOVE is LOVE.
– Donald L. Carrier, gay community member, St. Cecilia Parish, Boston