So many ways to approach Pride. BIG celebration in San Francisco, probably still going on. Parades in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, and yesterday in Minneapolis, St. Petersburg and Albuquerque. All commemorating the Stonewall riots and the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement. Yes, the Gay Liberation Movement - it predates the acronym and this weekend I'm not going to use it because of the B. (No offense meant, Bs. You can usually pass.) Los Angeles nowadays has its parade on a different weekend than San Francisco for body-count reasons but somehow I don't really think that's necessary any more.
This year the celebrations are probably more significant than we've had since 2003, and that was the most significant since the first one. You probably knew this would be a history diary but it will be fairly brief.
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The Stonewall riots themselves have been very well covered here by those of us who study LGBT history, both on the anniversary of the riots themselves and on the occasion when our President wrote it into the mainstream of history in his second inaugural address. What we're discussing is the commemoration of the event during the 44 years between the event and tonight.
The commemoration itself is significant. Here in 2013, we KNOW that in 2014 and for years after the Christopher Street/Stonewall celebrations in California will include the end of Proposition 8 and the resumption of marriage for same-sex couples. As June 1970 approached, however, nobody really knew if the events of the Stonewall Riots would be commemorated at all. In what feels now like a fascinating turn of events, the impetus to remember Stonewall originated in the Gay Liberation movement in Los Angeles, which, as you will remember from an earlier diary, had been in existence in one form or another since the early 1950s. In May 1970, Morris Kight, the founder of the Gay Liberation Front of Los Angeles, announced that there would be a parade down Hollywood Boulevard to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall unprising. Mirabile dictu, given the hostility that the Los Angeles Police Department had toward homosexuals, Christopher Street West received permits for the parade with the help of the ACLU and the courts. On that occasion, according to Dudley Clendinnen and Adam Nagourney in Out for Good: The Struggle to Build A Gay Rights Movement in America (1999):
"Homosexuals," [Superior Court] Judge [Richard] Schauer declared, "are also citizens."New York also had a parade from Greenwich Village to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, up Fifth Avenue, following the route of the St. Patrick's Day Parade. 1,165 people showed up in Hollywood, and several thousand in New York, and a tradition was born. Again, Clendinnen and Nagourney:
The New York Times . . . found the turnout [in New York] notable enough to put it on the front page of the next day's paper. No one had ever seen so many homosexuals in one place before. On top of the bluff, many of these men and Women, who had grown up so isolated and alone, stood in silence and cried.Atlanta had its first parade in 1971, and San Francisco, which commemorated the Stonewall riots with a "Gay-In" in Golden Gate Park in 1970, had its first parade in 1972. The rest, as they say, is history.
I should explain my personal experience with these parades, and remember, I didn't come out until the spring of 1971. During the 1970s when we lived in Manhattan, we generally met the New York parade at 59th Street and joined it going through the park to the Sheep Meadow, where there were speeches. The New York celebration was unabashedly political, and we liked that about it. Somewhere between 1972 and 1988, they changed the route in New York from a northbound parade to a southbound parade, starting at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street and proceeding down 5th Avenue and across 8th Street to the Stonewall Inn. I don't know exactly why. In Los Angeles, the parade had already moved from Hollywood Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard from Fairfax to San Vicente by 1981, and we just walked down San Vicente Boulevard to watch it. The Los Angeles parade is just fun, with a festival after in San Vicente Park which used to be fun until they jacked up the price of admission. San Francisco, which has always marched down Market Street, has never been able to make up its mind whether it wanted to be political or fun and I think it's still at that point. The years we went a LONG line of leftist political groups, not necessarily gay, were led by a FABULOUS Lesbian samba band called Sistah Boom, and we went to the parade pretty much to see Sistah Boom. The parades can be fun if you're in the right mood. Jim always was in New York and Los Angeles, but not so much in San Francisco.
So pictures. From the New York Times:
From the New York Daily News:
And about the title, "We are more American." The American Foundation for Equal Rights issued it as a poster for Wednesday night's celebration of the end of Prop 8 and the demise of Section 3 of DOMA. If you have forgotten what a disaster the defense of Prop 8 in Judge Walker's courtroom was, the speaker who said that was David Blankenhorn, the PROPONENTS' star witness, and the exact quote, delivered under cross-examination, was ""we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before." So yes, we're well on the way to full equality. Pride indeed!
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