From Stonewall to the Supreme Court, LGBT Accomplishments Over The Decades
While we all sit glued to the internet and television waiting for history to be made with the Supreme Court Prop 8 and DOMA decisions, I can’t help but think of how much the LGBT community has progressed over the years.
On Tuesday of this week, when we all were intently waiting for the Supreme Court to make it’s decision on Prop 8, the thought hit me as to how historic this is. I started thinking back to how much things have changed even in the last 10 to 15 years. I remember when Will & Grace debuted on NBC how it stirred up many conversations about a “gay” show on television. I also remember finding out the reason the show came to an end was because the NBC executive, at the time, didn’t find it “appropriate” to have a television show on his network that promoted “the gay lifestyle”. Now, only 7 years later, I can turn on the same network, NBC and find the show The New Normal which not only features a loving and “normal” gay couple, but one who is planning on having a family, basically portraying society’s “new normal”.
This shows an important paradigm shift in our society. In 2006 one of the most popular television shows in history was pulled off the air because it had to many homosexual references and now only 7 years later it is airing a show about same sex couple for what they are, 2 people in a normal, loving and stable relationship.
This is a perfect example at the amount of change that has lead us to the monumental times we are now in. If we think all the way back to June 28, 1969, patrons of a Greenwich Village bar decided to stand up for the first time to New York City police. They stood up and said for the first time out loud that they were going to be treated equally. They had the bravery to stand up in a time where it was still illegal in many places for homosexuals to get together in a setting like a bar.
Then in 1977 an amazing thing happened in San Francisco. One of the pioneers and truly a hero in the LGBT community made his stand.
“Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.”
In 1977 Harvey Milk won a seat as a San Francisco city supervisor. While he was in office he began organizing rallies for gay rights as well was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. Sadly on November 27, 1978 Harvey Milk and city Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White.
Over the years the LGBT community has had many heroes. In my opinion each one of us who stands up for equality and refuse to let fear control us are heroes. Earlier today I read a post that stated that one person felt they did more for LGBT rights that others because he spent a lot of his own money and personally went to Washington DC and rallied for rights. I have to say that I think it’s amazing that he was able and willing to do that, but the point was made that not all of us may have those resources. Another point was made that every person who voices their support for LGBT equality is doing something invaluable to the fight for LGBT rights.
I made a comment that it is not one single act that one of us does that helps move this fight forward, it is a combination of all our actions, big and small that make this fight work. The person who is not afraid to tell their family, their friends and the world who they are is just as important as the person who goes to Washington or joins rallies. The two boyfriends who walk down the street not afraid to hold hands tell society that they will accept nothing less than to be treated equally. The lesbian couple who went to the Michigan Supreme Court to challenge the adoption laws and marriage laws in the state are showing society that they are tired of being considered second class. To every LGBT person and the amazing straight allies who went to the voting booth last November and choose a candidate both Federally and Local who they knew would support LGBT rights told the country that it’s time for change. To the brave individuals who went to the Unites States Supreme Court to have Prop 8 and DOMA challenged are telling America that it is now the time for change. Every action combined is what brought us to this point. From holding hands, to refusing to be afraid to be who we are and to standing up for the rights that we deserve, all these actions big and small have allowed us to achieve everything we have over the years.
I was sitting at work yesterday reflecting about this and I was thinking. This is history in the making. The excitement I felt along with millions of other Americans must have been the same excitement that was felt in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed and in 1967 when the Supreme Court voided the ban on interracial marriages. I keep thinking about my kids, picturing them opening their history books (or probably iPads) and reading about what is happening this week. It makes me incredibly proud to be alive to witness this historic event as well as doing everything I can to make change happen. Congratulations to all of us gay and straight This is truly an accomplishment. To quote an amazing man who made it his life’s mission to fight for equality –
“An injustice to one is an injustice to all” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.