"GLBTQ History Lesson"
by Rick Beck
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Rick Beck's GLBTQ History Lesson
As my generation made a stand on Christopher Street in June of 1969, the torch has been passed the new generation. You must find your place to take a stand. My generation may not live to get there with you, but we’ll be with you when you get there. As we rally to fight for our rights in the latest battle, there is no doubt in my mind, you’ll finish the fight and you’ll be able to walk proud.
Our Drag Queens Freedom Fighters
The beginning of the modern gay movement started with drag queens refusal to take the beating the police had been issuing to them for ages. Silent submission was always the response before, but not this time. The drag queens pushed the cops out of the Stonewall bar and then they pushed them down Christopher Street.
The police retreated.
‘No more,’ came the battle cry.
The police returned with re-enforcements. They would teach the queers a lesson they’d never forget, except Greenwich Village was alerted. The battle was on. Gay men and women and their allies poured onto Christopher Street. The police were badly outnumbered.
Barricades were set up. The police felt obligated to take the Stonewall bar from the queers. How would it look if a bunch of faggots had their way with the NYC police?
Once again they made a move to take the Stonewall. Once again they were pushed back to the barricades.
City leaders were called. They called the gay leaders of the day. The international media heard about the gay riots and came to Christopher Street. The standoff was on. The negotiation began. The world watched.
It went on for several days, until the police agreed not to beat gay men for fun, a popular activity of the day in most major cities. It was illegal to be homosexual and there were laws against female impersonation, but it was no longer cause for them to be beaten.
Shortly after this conflict the laws were reviewed and changed. It was no longer illegal to be homosexual. The laws against us having sex didn’t change; one step at a time.
This is your history. Drag queens fired the first shot in the modern gay movement and peace was restored to Christopher Street.
Why would drag queens riot?
The Wizard of Oz!
Friends of Dorothy!
The Wizard of Oz comes first; ruby slippers, a yellow brick road, singing dwarfs. Color combinations and good taste aside, gay men still love this movie. During WWII the movie came in handy as gay men met. They had a recognition signal, ‘Are you a friend of Dorothy?’ Dorthy being the Judy Garland character in the movie.
Whether gay men came to Judy Garland or she embraced gay men first, I don’t know. By the 1960s Judy Garland was an icon to gay men and especially drag queens. There weren’t many people in our society who openly associated with us, but she did.
Now comes one of those events that ignited the gay riots, but no one could have seen it coming. Judy Garland died that week. The cops picked a piss poor time to fuck with drag queens.
A little history about being gay in 1969, it was ‘customary’ for police in cities like New York to drag someone out of a gay bar and beat them senseless. It was illegal being gay and there was a law against female impersonation. Instead of going through all the time and trouble of arresting gay men, they issued a beating instead.
When they entered the Stonewall that was deep in mourning, the drag queens had had enough and erupted. They simply weren’t going to take it any more. While this act might have gone unnoticed, the city fathers were forced to negotiate with gay leaders as the world watched it on the news. The embarrassment of talking to ‘gay’ leaders, when homosexuality was illegal, didn’t escape them. They decided not to take a chance on it ever happening again. The laws began to change and within a couple of years it was no longer a crime to be gay, but we were mental cases, but this too began to fall apart.
This is when the laws started changing. It was 40 years ago on June 28, 2009.
There's tons of history about being gay! And I mean tons! To start off, I suggest you check out Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page with a timeline of what has happened.
"Rick Beck's GLBTQ History Lesson" Copyright © OLYMPIA50 2009 All rights reserved.
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