Saturday Surprise — Pride Month – Part I

I was actually planning to skip Saturday Surprise again this week, but a glance at the calendar reminds me that June is almost over, and what I planned to do from the beginning of the month, has as yet gone undone. Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

This year marks the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in 2017 and 2018, but acknowledged Pride Month this year, but only via tweet, and he blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.

I had no intention of turning this post into a history lesson!  I wanted to use it to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … this will be Part I, and Part II will follow.  Stay tuned!

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19 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Pride Month – Part I

  1. Pingback: Saturday Surprise — Pride Month – Part II | Filosofa's Word

  2. Hello Jill. A heartfelt thank you for this grand post, especially in this time where pride parades, pride flags, and LGBTQ+ people are under attack it seems almost everywhere. It is a wonderful feeling to know there are allies out there willing to stand up and be counted on this subject. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jill, thanks for the detail. Someone commented on treating folks with dignity, is half the battle. Treating people fairly is the other half.

    These folks have been and still are put down based on fear. The fear has as a basis religious texts that were written by men. Even if inspired by a supreme being, the texts were written by men, edited by men, interpreted by men and translated by men. Many things appeared in these texts based on laws of the day. Pork if not cooked well and spoiled shellfish killed people or made them ill, eg. My guess is fear of people who did not follow normative behavior, also found its way in texts.

    The supreme being did not dictate verbatim. If God revealed what he wanted to Billy and Franklin Graham, what would wind up on paper would vary, even though they are father and son. What Luke wrote differs from what Mark wrote in the gospels, as they wrote in different languages and used different analogies both written based on stories of Jesus more than 30 years after he was crucified. Keith

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    • You speak the truth … and it seems to me that the discrimination, the hatred against the LGBTQ community is greater now than it was even just a year ago. All this b.s. about “heterosexual” pride … it’s just like when the #BlackLivesMatter movement first gained momentum, and the white nationalists had to counter with “all lives matter”. They simply did not understand what the movement was about, else did not care. Today, we are seeing the same sort of bigotry gaining momentum in this country against the LGBT community. Why? Because … I don’t know. Sigh. Arrogance? Perhaps as you say, fear of ‘other’? I just don’t know, but what I do know is that it is based in ignorance. Religious groups could put down this discrimination in a heartbeat, but instead some choose to promote and support it.

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    • Thanks John! Yes, you being the historian, I figured you would like it. I somehow doubt that we will ever eradicate that hate and discrimination, my friend, for look … after all this time, hatred against African-Americans and Jews is on the rise again! It gets tamped down for a while, but I think it is always simmering just beneath the surface. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome!!! Stay tuned for Part II, where I did a blurb about the gay penguins at the London Zoo! Yep, time to realize we are all humans and put aside the hate. Won’t happen, though, and we both know it. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not gay, but many of my friends throughout life have been. I stand beside them in their struggle for equality, as I do every non-violent group who has been made to feel worthless by the majority. We are all living beings, equally alive, and equal in having life. As long as we treat every living being with love and respect, we show ourselves worthy of being alive. This I believe with all my body, my mind, and my spirit, and noone can take that belief away from me!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Well said rg. I’m with rg on this. 👈

      We have to stop discriminating based on nothing more than own personal beliefs. We must work together, for each other, and stop the selfish notion of ‘this is all mine, and you are not worthy to share it,’ which is what most ideas in the world come down to, leading to conflicts. Our sexuality will be different for every different person, let alone the groups we fit ourselves into… and it is all genetically preprogrammed. Stupid people try to divide (or refute) Natural laws. They should not be allowed to lead society.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Democracy equals majority rule. This equals dummies rule, as much as I hate to say it. But most people are not born unintelligent, they are made that way.
        Christ is my shepherd, so I am a sheep. I lay down with lions. Nature takes its course. (My apologies to intelligent believers, as usual. I speak about those sects that have no respect for their followers.)

        Liked by 3 people

      • Yep, I’m with rg on this one, too. Bigotry in any form is ugly, whether it’s homophobia, misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or any other form … it’s all ugly. But, in this country we have a so-called president who encourages it, who eggs on the white supremacists, the right-wing “Christians”, the neo-Nazis, while denigrating entire groups of people like Latinos, Muslims, women, and LGBT people. Sigh. Beam me up, Scottie!

        Liked by 1 person

    • You know I am in 100% agreement with you on this! Why anybody or any group of bodies feels superior to another is beyond my comprehension. Arrogance … sheer arrogance. Bigotry takes many forms, wears many faces, none of them are pretty. Sigh. I think the human experiment was, perhaps, a big mistake.

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      • It wasn’t really an experiment, was it? It was the logical next step in evolution, give an ape a logical brain and a mind to direct the brsin’s use. But humans defy all logic. In fact, they defy sanity!

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