Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stonewall, Gay History,(Long)

40 years ago tomorrow, in a small, sleazy, mafia run, gay bar called The Stonewall Inn, on Christopher Street, NYC, a riot broke out in the wee hours of the morning, when a "passing woman" (like a drag king) was arrested in the bar during a police raid, escaped the cop car, and threw her large body against it, evoking the start of a riot within the bar. Soon afterwords, a drag queen threw the first stone, hitting an officer, and symbolically, too many, starting three days of protest and riots. During those three days of fighting many new gay rights groups formed, and the gay community, once nebulous and trying to conform to the rest, became a separate entity proper. Pride began.
40 years on the climate of the gay movement is different, the Mattachine Society and the Sisters of Belitis are no longer the prime example of activism, and queer culture has grown to even include a handful of heterosexuals, and has become a culture and a people in our own right. Nonetheless we are incredibly diverse, as our society is not based on race, nor on gender, but on a less tangible, less visible, separation of sexuality.
We need, therefore, to celebrate our intangible connection all the more. To further this I propose a symbolic tradition, to celebrate stonewall, the formation of a proper gay holiday, to cement our community together, and give us an enforced connection to one another. Some may question this as being unnecessary or silly, but it’s similar to the intention behind the holiday of Kwanza, itself formed in the 60s for similar reason; to cement a minority together, to unify, to celebrate, to fight, and to remember.

The celebration is in my mind separated into 4 days, each with symbolic names.
Day 1, June 27th- Judy Garland Memorial Day
Gay legend holds that the boys, girls, neither, and both, were at stonewall mourning the loss of an icon, Judy Garland, in the same way, celebration of stonewall begins on this day as a day of mourning, and remembrance. On this day we remember those who have passed, those who died of HIV/AIDS, those who were bashed, and those who went down fighting. We remember Garland too, and other strong females, bisexuals and gay men who we ourselves, and those before us, grew up looking up to. By about 11, at certain bars, a local drag queen, or elder, will take on the duty of retelling the story of that night, and we have a cocktail in memory. After the first toast, drinking and revelry is more than acceptable.
Day 2, June 28th- Stonewall
This is stonewall itself, thus the name. On this day, people drink and celebrate in early morning, are welcome to get up late, it’s a day for community planning, and people should go to local gay centres to plan and connect. Perhaps a dinner is in order. Protests are best to begin, or be planned on this day. This is also a day for the older generation to connect with the younger and pass on our history, so we never forget, and so that we have a connection to the past.
Day 3, June 29th- Protest
This is a day for peaceful resistance, those who can are to attend a rally, protest, or march, those who can’t should still write to their congressmen, local legislators, etc to forward the gay rights movement.
Day 4, June 30- Pride
This is the culmination, In some regions, street parades can be organized, it’s a day where you should let your rainbow flag fly, it's a day for coming out, for those who are ready to, it's a day for family too, it’s a day for celebration, for fun. Gay youth and children of gay parents can get a small present on this day. Celebrate however you wish, for Stonewall is over, but our fight continues.

That's my proposal, 4 days of Stonewall, a “Gay Kwanza”: Memorial, Stonewall, Protest and Pride. I hope that this idea spreads and that some decide to celebrate our history, our community, and those who must be remembered.

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