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June 29, 2009

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Flannista

Does anyone remember reading about the Stonewall riots 40 years ago? I have no memory of them. Their significance didn't hit me until 1989. This year, it's really hitting me; undoubtedly because I'm, well . . . older and wiser (but not, according to Matissta, ugly).

Am also curious about your responses to another article in the New York Times about why the gay rights movement doesn't have its own Dr. Martin Luther King or Gloria Steinem. Here's an excerpt:

*****
“The gay movement has always had a problem of achieving a dignity or a moral imperative that the black civil rights movement had, or the women’s rights movement claimed,” said Dudley Clendinen, who co-wrote the book “Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America” and now teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University. “Because this movement is fundamentally about the right to be sexual, it’s hard for the larger public to see that as a moral issue,” he said.

By contrast, the moral authority that leaders like Dr. King, Ms. Friedan and Ms. Steinem could claim — and the fact that Americans did not look at them and imagine their sex lives — made it easier to build respectability with the public.
*****
Here's the link to the entire article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/weekinreview/21peters.html


Flannista

HEL-LO-O? Anybody out there?

Is it summer time? And the livin' ain't easy?

Jerseysista

I’m like you, Flannista. I did not become aware of Stonewall until the 80’s. I’m sure that my family, community and church commented on the events at the time (when I was 15) but it was probably just news that was replaced by other news in my sphere. I certainly was not in any circles at that time that would have even been remembering or talking about it once the news cycle died down. It wasn’t something that folks in my sleepy little rural town even saw as something controversial because it had no impact on their homogenous, un-diverse, forced-conformity lives.

PEACEsista

Congratulations Flann and Matiss and many wishes for a joyful future.

The problem of this issue achieving dignity, it seems to me, is our cultural insistence at focusing on only one aspect of relationship. The issue is about love ... unconditional love ... meaning, let's get out of the business of governing it.

But those of a certain morality and the media gain by having the issue be about sex. My college advertising class taught me: SEX SELLS ... and God know, these days the print media needs to use all successful marketing strategies, just to stay alive.

I don't remember Stonewall. I was an adolescent in the suburban midwest and not particularly tuned into current events. As with Civil Rights, time may be the greatest ally on this issue. One day, there will be a president and at the inauguration s/he will be thanking his/her parents, the two mommies, or daddies, sitting with the dignitaries near the podium ... and some will have tears in their eyes ... thinking that they'd never see the day ...

... and one day, the president's partner ... well, you get the picture.

Flannista

A lovely picture indeed, that we're getting PEACE. Thanks for having the courage to imagine it and post it here. Thanks too for the congrats. It helps immeasurably to have the support of beloveds when one chooses to express intimate love that is different from the majority.

You are right. SEX does SELL and that's why conservative religious groups continue to glom onto it. This paragraph from the New York Times article linked in this post disturbed me about Obama's reluctance to be more definitive about gay rights:

*****
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a group that opposes gay rights initiatives, said Mr. Obama’s reluctance to push more assertively for gay rights reflected public opinion.

“He’s given them a few minor concessions; they’re asking for more, such as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ being repealed,” Mr. Perkins said. “The administration is not willing to go there, and I think there’s a reason for that, and that is because I think the American public isn’t there.”
*****

Obama's reluctance is being used to "fuel" these groups, despite growing cultural acceptance of homosexuality . . . which these groups undoubtedly see as an indication of the "end times."

It would really help if more straight people came out -- I mean, really came out -- in support of their gay and lesbian friends.

PEACEsista

Flann, look to the children. There is this whole generation of children coming into adulthood and power. They, gay and straight, will change everything. We did that, too, remember?

Chrysosistah

I didn't learn about Stonewall until earlier this year, I think after references to it by Half-a here and DC on Facebook. I was a child at the time, and 1969 was a tumultuous time - and I grew up near Cape Kennedy, so that was huge news at the time in our area....

Flannista, those groups you mention would seek any port in a storm, grasp at any straw, to keep the energy going in their "cause". If not Obama, they'd find someone or something to rally the faithful.

And yes, Congratulations, dear friends! Many happy returns!

Flannista

You're so right, PEACEsista! Look to the children!

I remember marching against the Vietnam War in 1969. My parents thought I was babysitting, but I was on the campus of a local university yelling and well . . . yelling. I knew nothing about Stonewall then -- and none of my "hip" college friends said anything to me about it.

Chryso -- we'll be posting about the 40th anniversary of the moon landing in a few weeks. And yes, these religious fanatics will find anything to fuel their cause. Good grief -- remember Anita Bryant?

Flannista

Here's something Anita said during her 1977 Dade County, FL campaign to overturn an ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation:

"As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children" and "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."

Matiss -- thank gawd Huck isn't a St. Bernard. Also, I'm glad I stopped biting my nails.

frida

Flannista and Mattista...wahoo!

And a victory for love in the White House. Now let's petition Obama to remember habeas corpus, another issue about the sanctity of the body.

Chrysosistah

Good Lord!! I had no idea I ranked below "people who sleep with St Bernards"!

Flannista

You are so right, frida. Obama has got to take a harder look at his decision to detain some of those Guantanamo prisoners indefinitely.

I looked up the definition of "habeas corpus" to get a clearer understanding. Here's a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus

Flannista

Read it and weep, Chryso. Read it and weep.

Chrysosistah

I Yam what I yam! I must not sink beneath my anguish, but soldier on.

What a strange pastiche of "perversion" she assembled...an illuminating glimpse into her insanity?

Flannista

I love your phrase, "pastiche of perversion," Chryso.

Don't mean to get the sasstracked by Anita. What can I say, but, Anita Bryant like anita hole in my head.

Chrysosistah

And oh, yeah - I remember Anita from the time, felt she was a horrible embarrassment to the state and the orange juice industry. Old parallel to that beauty queen from California? Why in the world we pay any attention to such imbeciles is beyond me...

Matissta

From Tallulah to Stonewall, nice segue, Flann.

I don't remember anything about The Stonewall raid or protests. I was a wee tot at the time. I learned about it in the early 80's. (If you've ever saw this place in person, you'd be surprised that it's where it all began. It's a small place and pretty unassuming.) Imagine 40 years ago, a raid on a gay bar. Something I almost can't believe. With every generation, more and more changes occur, along with more acceptance.

Yes, people focus on the sex. Always.

As for the Sassistas! quiet victory, well in some ways, I can't believe it's only been 4 years and 7 months... And in other ways, it seems like it's been longer. My life before Flann seems so long ago. If you think we have fun on the blog, you should spend time with us in person!

Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone.

half-a-sista

I remember the reports about the Stonewall Rebellion. I was 17 and alone in a small town in the northwestern part of Missouri. I knew I was a homosexual. I knew shame and loneliness. I knew the fear of losing my friends and family. When I saw the reports of the event in Life magazine (I think), I knew I only had to live a couple of more years before I could go out and find my people. Thanks to all the drag queens, street people, faeries, homos, and other people who fought the police and made them take shelter in the gay bar they had raided. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Flann and Matiss, congratulations on passing a milestone in your relationship. You both rock individually and together.

Flannista

Matiss: "Bankhead" and "Stonewall" -- practically the same thing, no?

In a separate email, Matiss sent me the link to Frank Rich's column called, "40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans":

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/opinion/28rich.html?emc=eta1

Also, the incoming president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, published this editorial in the Washington Post today. He is attending today's White House reception, but understands the anger of the gay community about Obama:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/28/AR2009062802336.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Flannista

half-a-sista: a separate response for you because you seem to have been fighting the battle for gay rights a lot longer than most of us -- ever since you were a "wee tot," to use Matissta's description. So to you I say:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

You rock, too.

Flannista

The 'sphere has been quiet for about six hours which is rare.

Wanted to share that I decided today to try and arrange a meeting between my friends who, in Christian parlance, "led me to the Lord" in 1973, but since then have chosen to ignore my sexual orientation. It is the elephant in the room we don't discuss. I'm not doing it to make a case or change minds. Just to get it out in the open. My spiritual mentor, Charlissta, has already agreed to be present for the meeting. I love these friends, and I know they love me. The time has come for openness. I'll let you know how it progresses.

Love to all.

half-a-sista

Flann, you need to talk after that meeting I for one am here to listen.

I "came out" in 1973 when I testified against the University of Missouri system in a case that eventually won glbt groups the right to organize on campus and receive university funds to plan activities.

I lost my work-study job that Fall because the financial aid people "discovered" that I made too much money from Social Security children's benefits...a fact and amount I reported to them every year. They assured me that I would not have to pay back any of the money they had paid me for my work the last 3 years of work-study.

My boss, who I had told I would testify against the university before I did it, acted so sorry to see me go. I found another job and graduated in June 1974. It never occurred to me at the time that I may have lost my job for testifying. Naivete? I thought people were good at their core. I had worked for this guy for 3 years...12 months a year...and he wouldn't do that to me. I heard from another university official, years later, that I was let go because of my testimony.

The hearing by the University Committee was already a done deal before it started. The University had hired a special police officer (young, blond, muscular) to hang around restrooms in the university and solicit people. When someone responded he arrested them, call his fellow officers who took the person to the police office and threatened to tell everyone what had happened UNLESS the person gave names and/or addresses and/or phone numbers so the University could track these people. (I know someone who did to save his job.)

I remember sitting at the hearing while this officer testified to those facts. No one except the gay groups lawyer (and all of us) thought that was wrong. The University said, "We did it to protect the male students from these people." Sadly, most of the people arrested were not university students, but married men from the surrounding area. That was the beginning of my distrust of institutions. Then I went to work for the federal government. Boy, oh, boy, did I learn about the machinations of institutions.

half-a-sista

A funny/sad story for the sassosphere...
When I decided that I felt attractions to other men, I went downtown to the public library to read books of the subject. Books contain lots and lots of useful information. The card catalogue sat in the middle of the rotunda of the main area. Homosexuality...the catalogue showed 7-10 books. I wrote down all of the numbers and went to the stacks. No books. Now that struck me as unusual. Were all the homosexuals in the city reading these books?

I approached the librarian who was 115 years old if a day. "I looked in the stacks for these numbers and couldn't find any of them."

She looked at the numbers. "Those are in the locked collection."

"Can I look at them?" I had never heard of a locked collection. They must be valuable.

"What would be your purpose in wanting to look at them?" She scowled.

I knew enough not to say, "Because I think I'm one and want to find out more about it." I smiled, the good boy that I was and said, "I'm doing a report on homosexuality for my social studies class." She stared into my eyes. I kept smiling.

"Okay, fill out this form. You need to put your name, address, and phone number. I need your driver's license to hold while you look at these books."

I filled out the form. The librarian said, in what seemed like a very loud voice, "THIS YOUNG MAN WANTS TO LOOK AT THE BOOKS ON HOMOSEXUALITY."

Not one to cower in front of old angry women (like my mother), I filled out form after form until I had looked at every book on the subject. Not a good thing, but that's another story.

half-a-sista

So now it's like talking to myself on Sassistas, but that's okay. I live alone. I know the importance of talking to one's self.

Obama has bigger issues to deal with. If he can get the American people on his side about the major issues in this country, then he can be more upfront about glbt issues. Again, remember what happened to Bill Clinton when all he wanted to stop the homo-hunts in the military. We know how many gay and lesbian people have fought in every war from the Revolutionary War to the present invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. We also know of the many people hounded out of the service despite spotless service records. Please give BO a break.

We (gays and lesbians) change more minds by living open lives of integrity. Come out, come out, wherever you are (as long as you won't get the crap beaten out of you and support yourself). That changes the world. Stonewall showed a lot of us that our homosexuality didn't mean we had to put up with assholes who wanted us to die quietly in mental institutions or from suicide. We could fight and we have.

If you had told me 40 years ago that same-sex couples could marry in several states in the U.S., I would have said, "You are nuts." Now look, six states and counting. (Not that I think marriage is a viable institution for all people.)

Chrysosistah

You're not alone, Half-a, I hear you!

And Flannista, if they love you, then it's no big deal. ;-) We love you, just the way you are!

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