As a gay man and tax-paying American citizen whose right to equal protection under the law has been denied me my entire life, today I feel guardedly hopeful. Guardedly, as I am fully aware of how many people share equally strong negative feelings about the court's recent rulings.
Pride parades, or "gay liberation protests," as they were first called, have been critical to bringing about LGBT rights all over the world. But we've abandoned their initial purpose as a call for equality. We owe it to ourselves, and to our history, to call upon our rich activist traditions.
We may mark time as before and after the Stonewall riots, before and after Rosa Parks sat where she pleased, before and after Jackie Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field, but those moments were made possible by many, many, many named and unnamed people who came before.
As a 44-year-old man born in 1969, I can only imagine what it was like for those who were in New York City during the Stonewall riots that year. This is why it is wonderful to be able to talk to someone who witnessed it firsthand: Donald Reidlinger, who was a teen during the summer of '69.
I feel compelled to come out to people that I have just met. And I have noticed that most people -- especially young people -- of all races don't seem to have the same knee-jerk homophobic reaction that they used to have. And this is progress. I think James Baldwin would agree.
Admittedly, I used to be uncomfortable with Pride parades, and even just Pride in general. My own impressions of these events came from stereotypical images shown throughout mainstream media: pictures of half-naked individuals and extravagant drag queens.
Mad Men has a habit of bringing in minor characters who signal the broader theme for the following season. With bloggers Tom and Lorenzo suggesting that Bob Benson might be gay, his sudden appearance in Season 6 could allude to next season's big theme.
It's up to trans* people to be proactive and make certain that our individual and collective voices are heard loud and clear by the public and the media, and that we continue to be written into the record of queer history.
By any measure there have been tremendous gains in acceptance. But still, the list containing Mollie Olgin and Kristene Chapa, Jadin Bell, Tyler Clementi, Matthew Shepard, and countless others is not shrinking.
There are tales of a butch throwing the first punch at a cop, a projectile high-heeled shoe being lobbed across the crowd, among others, all of which have been said to have ignited the crowd to resist arrest. But regardless of which catalytic moment you want to believe, something snapped.
The president's words struck me to the core. Just as I became an accidental activist when I transitioned, I was an accidental participant in the Stonewall uprising when I stumbled upon the chaos when I was trying to attend a concert at the Village Vanguard on the night of June 28, 1969.
It is vital to view the history of the Stonewall rebellion much more closely and not let that fight be reduced to simply the right of gay and lesbian Americans to get married. It is important to note that at the forefront of the fight were two transgender women, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson.
Both women have worked their whole lives but never made enough to save for retirement. Both volunteered their time caring for those in shelters and hospices but, now that they are in need of the very care they provided, where do they turn?
This was more than just a "great election for LGBT people." This was a game changer. The game changer. We will never return to the level of indignity that we suffered before, even as we roll with the momentum to resolve the still-existent inequities that plague our lives.
Armstrong's death last week has evoked numerous gauzy tributes to his amazing courage. But romantic memories of that historic moment belie the real triumph for Armstrong, NASA, and our deeply conflicted nation of the late 1960's.
Writer Brendan O'Neill wrote an odd attack on marriage equality. What is revealing, he says, is that gay marriage is "a tool of the elite" which indicates "one's superiority over the hordes, particularly those of a religious or redneck persuasion."
As we talk about bullying during Pride season and the anniversary of Stonewall, please understand that the only bullies who can legally initiate, legitimize, and employ force against us when we are otherwise peaceful are the government and its agents.
The riots were a reflection of the innermost feelings and sentiments of the crowd, who were fed up with the harassment and assaults at the hands of the police. They fought back that night, probably because the police targeted the drag queens and transvestites when making the arrests.
I realize that my youth does not allow me to know firsthand how far the LGBT community has come, but my discovery of Stonewall has made me hyperaware of two things: first, of making sure I never take change for granted, and second, of the resilience of the LGBT community.