Beware! Back Again.... Gay Pride in February!
Hello, Cousin Butchie,
I come from a large Italian family and whenever we get together someone will ask me what "Gay Pride" is all about and what there is to be proud of. Generally it's a uncle or cousin who says something stupid like "I'm straight. Should we have a "Straight Pride" celebration?"
What am I supposed to say? I am 22 and don't have a good answer.
I am not sure how to answer this for you so I asked Uncle RJ to fill in for me on this one.
Dear Butchie and Rocco and All Our Readers,
I would rather answer this than think that you guys go around not knowing what the pride is all about. I know that some of you only talk about hot celebrities, latest crushes, clothes, the best hairstyles, etc. It's far too dangerous now to limit yourselves in this way.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. I believe the NY Pride Parade will be called "Pride America," but I'm not positive.
Prior to Stonewall gay men and women (there were no other identifiers then) were routinely arrested and abused by the law for meeting in bars and for showing any affection in public. Names of arrested people were printed in newspapers and many lost their jobs and were alienated from their families for just witnessing who they were. In 1969, the Stonewall Bar was under attack by the police, but those in the bar fought back and brought to the world's attention the oppression faced by people of the same sex who loved one another. The first parade began, and these parades grew larger every year.
In the years after, gay people banded together to demand their human rights. Slowly, things became better in the United States. There was still much to be done, but we were no longer clandestine enemies who allowed ourselves to be removed from society.
I suggest you go online and read about the AIDS pandemic which killed so many of our brothers and sisters. View the work of the NAMES Project/ AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT and the extremely slow way our government responded to this health crisis. Look up the information about Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones and Father O'Neill who started the first gay Roman Catholic support group with the founding of DIGNITY.
It would not be so important to look back on our history if we didn't still live in a society which still challenges our civil rights and basic human rights. Although the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association removed "homosexuality" from their list of mental illnesses, there are still religious groups which continue to attempt to "pray the gay away" with reparative therapy-- a totally baseless and cruel treatment of gay and lesbian people. See the current movie "Boy Erased" to see how far the self-righteous (and spiritually ignorant) will go to make us heterosexuals. It is no more effective than trying to do the reverse, and it is fortunate that these groups like Exodus and Jonah have been shown to be total failures. Intimidating any gay or lesbian person to go back in the closet is not changing anything. Many of the first leaders of these groups have courageously admitted their errors. Others have been "outed" in gay bars and places they supposedly now disdain.
Bible-thumpers still very often try to use the Bible to show that same sex attraction is sinful and evil. I recall a straight Catholic priest who was getting the anti-gay talk from a group of fundamentalists and he told them "I have neither the patience nor the time to argue with you about your lack of understanding and ignorance of the Book of Leviticus and other seemingly condemnatory passages in the Bible." So many people read the Bible but don't study it. Allegory and contradiction often fills its pages and the "readers" don't grasp this fact.
At this very chaotic time in the history of our country, we have a leader who is denying armed forces service to transgender individuals. We also have a second in command who has donated almost a million dollars to support reparative therapy while his wife works for a school which accepts no LGBTQ students.
We also need to be very much aware of the problem the Roman Catholic hierarchy and faithful have in differentiating between their pedophile clergy and the GLBT members of the priesthood and religious orders who are prophetic in their attempts to keep the scandals of the leadership trailing down to infer that any gay person in ministry is a pedophile.
If this has only touched the surface for you, please feel free to respond here at NJGayLife.com or personally to me at KippyNJ@aol.com.
AND if you think you would rather not explore the past, think again about the violent and hateful attrocities which are still happening all over this land.