Yesterday was Pride Sunday in a lot of places. I saw a lot of people running around in Mardi Gras drag, some of whom I suspect were utterly clueless as to what it was, precisely, that they were supposed to be celebrating, other than just being gay (and God knows, if you're young and beautiful, that is ABSOLUTELY ENOUGH).
My colleague in bloggorhea, Jake over at NoFo, has a wonderful piece today about what it is that we LGBT's have to be proud about. It's a good list and a good piece. You should read it. Jake's a fabulous writer.
I've enumerated here before why I no longer make the long march down Fifth anymore, so I'm not going to go over that again.
But it might be worthwhile to recall just how things actually were after midnight, on the early morning of June 28th, 1969, the night of the 1st Stonewall Riot. And to recall the events which led up to it.
This Wikipedia entry is a very good primer on the history of GLF (Gay Liberation Front). Check it out and take a few minutes to remember how things were in those days.
I wasn't present that Saturday morning of the riot. My first visit to a gay bar still lay a year or so in my future. But I was having my first legal drink that night. I was in the Navy and a newly minted Petty Officer Third Class.
But in part because of what happened that night, within the next 3 years I would come out of the Navy and out of the closet to friends and family alike. By the fall of 1972 I would be the newly elected President of the Gay Community of the University of Delaware and would spend the next few years marching in a lot of protest marches... not just in New York, but in Columbus (Ohio), Washington (DC), Philadelphia and sundried other places. I would also meet my first boyfriend, a beautiful blond named Rick whose heart I would quickly break, at a Saturday night dance at the GLF Firehouse at 99 Wooster Street down in SoHo. We met in October of 1972.
I still carry a torch for him.
Later on I felt hurt when a number of lesbians, our sisters in liberation, started to recuse themselves from participating in the the largely male dominated GLF groups in various cities and universities. But I understood it. I went out of my way during those years to fully identify my innate heterosexism, patriarchal thinking and racial bias. If I wanted liberation for myself, then I had to be willing to grant it, unconditionally, to others.
Could I have done more? Oh God, yes. I hardly scratched the surface of what I could and should have done. It always seemed that everyone else was doing so much more.
But I did a lot. And I'm pretty proud of that.
So even though I don't march down Fifth Avenue anymore, this year's marchers, whether they know it or not, are following in my footsteps and the footsteps of thousands of other older gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people who made that same trek downtown, numerous times, 30+ years ago.
And that's a very good thing. Something, in fact, to be proud of.