Today is officially Transgender Day of Remembrance (DOR) across the globe. For me, it was last week in Chicago for their Day of Remembrance. Chicago does theirs a little early as Kimberly Nicole and Cyndi Richards professional set up and film the event there in the Windy City in order to have it edited and uploaded onto YouTube in order to coincide with Day of Remembrance.
The Chicago event was moving, and the location in New Spirit Church of Oak Park was an excellent stage for it. According to Rev. Bradley Mickelson, the church was apparently once where Theodore Roosevelt worshipped at his congregation — an interesting bit of history.
As the LGBT community been enrapt in Pride celebrations in numerous cities across the globe this month, there's been plenty of news that's hit the wires. Most all of it in America has centered around Don't Ask, Don't Tell (a campaign promise by President Barack Obama that has yet to be addressed) and marriage issues or the Dept. of Justice's recent amicus curiae brief filed regarding DOMA (the Defense Of Marriage Act of 1996).
Individual organizers in the GLBT community are using this anniversary and devoting media to capitalize on the event to address the recent outrages in the gay and lesbian community.
It's a notable anniversary for Pride celebrations and marches this month as it is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. That occasion was also about outrage. The folks that night had had enough of being treated like crap. No más!
This is rearranged transcript from "Remembering Stonewall" which premiered July 1, 1989. The show itself interviewed both people at the scene of Stonewall as well as others who related how they felt hearing about Stonewall and what it meant to their lives. Rather than simply reposting, I took the liberty of culling the portions of it that had specific relevance to what happened in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. Those relevant to the riot were left in and organized a bit better, rather than the cut and paste snippets of the original in order to give more of a feel for the sentiment of the night, especially from Dep. Inspector Seymour Pine and Sylvia Rivera – the nights two main players in this documentary.
The following is a reprint of an article familiar to folks in the Houston area. It was initially done for the June 1999 issue of the TATS (Texas Assn. for Transsexual Support) newsletter which I edited for a number of years. It was ten years ago – the 30th Anniversary of Stonewall.
Big Roy McCarthy worked at KPFT (a Pacifica station in Houston) at the time I was doing my own radio show there for After Hours: Queer Radio With Attitude. Big Roy did our Queer News portion of our show.
Knowing Roy's history, I decided to commandeer him one night before our show and sit for a couple hours with a tape recorder to get him in his own words on what it was like being there at ground zero and involved physically in the Stonewall Riots.
It became official yesterday afternoon when New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill into law, making New Hampshire the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. Lynch, a Democrat, personally opposed gay marriage but earlier said he would view the issue "through a broader lens." Virtually all of New England now allows same-sex marriage, with Rhode Island the sole exception.
Said New Hampshire's favorite gay son, Bishop V. Eugene Robinson, "It's about being recognized as whole people and whole citizens. There are a lot of people standing here who when we grew up could not have imagined this," Robinson said. "You can't imagine something that is simply impossible. It's happened, in our lifetimes."
So now we have yet another state that allows gay and lesbian couples, and even transgenders, to marry on January 1, 2010. You can bet there will be couples lined up taking advantage of the new law on New Years morning!
Yesterday began the month of June: Pride Month in America and other countries around the world. It's, as the name indicates, a source of pride for many in the greater LGBT community. For some of us, it's a reminder of how little we have to take pride in at all.
While not in all cities, a sizable number of them hold their Gay Pride celebrations and parades in this month. Of course as many know already, this was the month chosen as it was the month of the Stonewall Inn Riots in New York City's Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969.
As we come upon June 28, 2009 – the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City which catalyzed the public push for rights among GLBT people – we will see any number of events popping up to remember the occasion. While it may not have begun the actual behind-the-scenes work for rights, it arguably was the key moment to bring gay rights into the lexicon and consciousness of the rest of the world.
However, it became gay rights only shortly thereafter when those same behind-the-scenes, shadowy leaders in high places with memberships in the Mattachine or the Daughters of Bilitis commandeered the rough cut protests and tailored into a palatable visual for the inception of rights attainment.
"People of double standards never experience happiness." — author, Sam Veda
The headline blared: "Where's Barack Obama, the 'Fierce Advocate' for LGBT Rights?" It was a recent post on Pam's House Blend, the highly popular LGBT blog, that got a number of peoples' attention in the community Originally I was thinking Pam Spaulding, the blog owner, published a tongue-in-cheek title on a pan of a column in the Washington Post by Richard Socarides . Socarides, an openly gay former aide to Pres. Bill Clinton, rather shrilly taking the Obama Administration to task after they surpassed his 100-day mark.
What makes this especially disappointing is that it comes during a crisis-driven "change moment" in our country's history that not only cries out for leadership but presents a particularly good climate for making substantial progress on gay equality.
My last blog apparently broke open the floodgates on this subject, unintentionally. Just a note, y'all: I didn't do this to put out my shingle as some sort of community counselor. I'm not. In three days, besides C (subject on my last blog), I've now had to talk three people away from dancing along the edge perilously. I would go into the details but I just don't have the energy.
It's strange how things seem to come in waves. For me they seem to be extreme tidal waves, though maybe it's just me (and maybe instead I've just worked out my quota for the next four years or more recently). But just today, our local news featured a murder / suicide. In calling my friend C to make sure she was okay, she related a story of another community member in North Carolina who came home and "walked into her house, just in time to see her wife blow her brains out."
And even sitting here writing this entry this evening, there's a program about the economy's devastation worldwide, its effects on Japan, and how increasing numbers there are turning to prayer, and then to suicide. I don't like that fact that I hear it so frequently suddenly, nor that it's had it's rather close history to me.
We could be in for a long, torturous suicide season.
I'd been really lucky of late. Other than talking a couple folks down after the IFGE board announcement a couple months ago (very minor, comparatively), I haven't had a serious watch in about five years now. The stuff on my plate – organizing things in New York, Washington, Cape Cod and Houston, and monitoring bills in Austin – sorta had my full focus. Focus is good.
But there is a bad side of focus: you lose sight of the periphery. And as we know, those little overlooked details can devastate you. And as I well know, suicides are like tornados and come up suddenly with little or no warning. They hit, you react.
Just yesterday I saw an advertisement for Massachusetts Equality (http://www.massequality.org/) with a photo of my friend, Ethan St. Pierre, on it. It was a very flattering photo of him showing up link stating "get the resources to help fight transgender discrimination here." Indeed it's an important first step for Mass. Equality -- an important first step in 2009.
Many would think this a positive development.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"A man without a vote is a man without protection." — former Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson
The Texas Legislature is pulling extraordinary measures to enact a law that will strip transitioning transsexuals right to vote. This is a violation of our voting rights to knowingly strip law-abiding, taxpaying citizens from the vote. And I fully encourage all trans people in transition to go vote, take along a witness to take notes, and the minute you are turned away after providing your photo ID (and per the new law, the election workers or election judge should do so), contact an excellent an aggressive attorney and file a federal lawsuit against both the State of Texas and Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay)