On April 17th, 1965 Dr. Frank Kameny along with gay rights pioneer Jack Nichols, who co-founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, DC bravely led the first “homosexual rights” protest at the White House at a time in history when being gay and lesbian was viewed as an abomination in this country.
The Mattachine Society fought for the equal treatment of gay employees in the federal government, the repeal of sodomy laws, and the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s manual of mental disorders..
Ten MSW members along with members of the Daughters of Bilitis picketed in front of the White House against Cuban and the US governments repression of homosexuals.
The group also included: Gail Johnson, Gene Kleeberg, Judith Kuch, Paul Kuntzler, Perrin Shaffer, Jon Swanson, Otto Ulrich, Lilli Vincenz (editor of MSW’s quarterly).
Of the protest, Jack Nichols wrote “Never before had gay people as an organized group paraded openly for our rights.”
The picket took place during mid-afternoon. It was the Saturday before Easter, and tourists walked thedowntown streets. Lige [Clarke], driving the convertible, took me to the White House curb and helped me unload signs. Then he drove off to work the afternoon shift at the Pentagon. Gail arrived at the site on the back seat of Ray’s motorcycle.It was agreed I should lead the picket line. The reason for this was that I was tall and an all-American sort. Also, I suppose, because I’d conceived the event. Frank Kameny marched behind me and Lilli Vincenz behind him ..
As we marched, I looked about at our well-dressed little band. Kameny had insisted that we seven men must wear suits and ties, and the women, dresses and heels. New Yorkers later complained that we Washingtonians looked like a convention of undertakers, but given the temper of the times, Kameny’s insistence was apropos. “If you’re asking for equal employment rights,” he intoned, “look employable!” In the staid nation’s capital, dressing for the occasion was, in spite of New York critics, proper.
We paraded in a small circle. Behind lampposts stood unknown persons photographing us. Were they government agents? Perrin and Otto wore sunglasses so absolute identification would be difficult should they fall prey to security investigations. We walked for an hour that passed, as I’d predicted, without incident. A few tourists gawked and there were one or two snickers, more from confusion than from prejudice.
We’d hoped for more publicity than we got. Only “The Afro-American “carried a small item about what we’d done. But we’d done it, and that was what mattered. We’d stood up against the power structure, putting our bodies on the line. Nothing had happened except that we’d been galvanized, and, to a certain extent, immunized against fear.”
The Mattachine Society protest was not welcomed by the even more conservative leaders of the gay movement who felt picketing would draw adverse publicity and even greater hostility.
The Mattachine Society’s protest of the White House, along with the Stonewall Riots are among two of the most significant events in LGBT History. But sadly as we look at the pictures and read the slogans on the picket signs of our LGBT activist forefathers and we realize many of the slogans on these signs could still be carried in protests today almost 60 years later.
Many people believe that gay and lesbian activism and our fight for GLBT equality began the night of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. But in reality as early as 1895, a group of New York “androgynes” called the Cercle Hermaphrodites united “for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.”
In 1924 in the Old Town Triangle District of Chicago, Henry Gerber founded the Society for Human Rights. And in 1951 two groups — the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis — formed with a common goal: to fight discrimination against gay men and lesbians and to prove to all that we were no different from heterosexuals. (In those days transgendered and bisexuals were covered under “gay and lesbian.”)
Early groups such as these were helpful in Illinois in 1962 when it became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality, and they also openly demonstrated for civil rights in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in 1965.
But it wasn’t until 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, when eight New York City police officers arrived at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village that our battle began on a much larger scale. Gay and lesbian activism stopped being about small clandestine groups and became about us as individuals standing up and fighting for our rights. .
Stonewall starts it all
It’s been over 40 years since that fateful night when four undercover policewomen and policemen entered the Stonewall Inn to gather evidence while the Public Morals Squad waited outside. Of the roughly 200 people in the bar that night, those who realized what was happening tried running for the doors and windows in the bathrooms. Police locked down the Stonewall, and confusion spread.
Back then, the standard procedure was to check identification and have customers dressed as women to go to the bathroom to verify their sex, but something changed that night.
The drag queens refused to go to the bathroom, and the men in line refused to show their identification. The police decided to arrest everyone.
A crowd gathered and within minutes, between 100 and 150 people had congregated outside. The police began escorting the prisoners out of the bar to the paddy wagon. A bystander shouted, “Gay power!”
An officer shoved a transvestite, who responded by hitting him on the head with her purse, and the crowd began to boo. People threw pennies and then beer bottles at the wagon, while rumors spread that those inside were being beaten by police.
A scuffle broke out when a lesbian in handcuffs was escorted from the bar. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting. She was hit on the head by an officer with a billy club and shouted at bystanders, “Why don’t you guys do something?” After an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the wagon.
It was then the crowd did do something. Something that would change the course of LGBT lives and history forever.
The Stonewall Riots lasted for four nights, the first of which ended only after New York City’s Tactical Police Force arrived to back up the 12 police officers who barricaded themselves inside the Stonewall Inn and spent most of the night chasing protesters, only 13 of whom were arrested. More than 1,000 people showed up for the second night, with more rioting and street battles overnight.
Activity in Greenwich Village over the final two days was sporadic, partly due to rainy weather and the fact that every major paper had picked up the story and the whole world was watching. But the point had been made and our first battle won. We weren’t invisible any longer, and we wouldn’t be walked on without a fight.
The movement grows
Within two years of the Stonewall Riots, gay rights groups formed in every major American city and in Canada, Australia and Western Europe. The Gay Activist Alliance of New York City was founded by Columbusborn G. Donn Teal, and it and other groups took to the streets and college campuses demanding a place beside Black Power, Women’s Lib and the anti-war movement.
The ’70s were a remarkable time in gay history: So much was accomplished, and so much changed. Gay activism for civil rights flourished as never before or since. But with the coming of the ’80s, gay activism was tragically sidetracked by a terrible epidemic.
AIDS reared its ugly head and changed our culture forever. We lost so many, and our activism became focused on trying to stop the disease’s spread and pushing for research from the federal government, which at that time barely recognized the disease.
ACT UP and other groups picked up the gauntlet and took to the streets, and activism slowly turned into advocacy. The energy and raw emotion of the streets transformed into air-conditioned offices, corporate conference rooms and spreadsheets.
As the years passed, these groups grew. The part-time unpaid activist became a full-time professional advocate. Business models and yearly plans replaced manifestos and impromptu protest. Today, Web sites and politically correct lobbying have replaced picket signs and passion.
Power in protest
The immigration rights movement achieved more over a period of several days in March 2006 with nationally coordinated mass demonstrations and the threat of a national work stoppage than the gay rights movement has achieved in a decade of polite negotiations.
We have achieved remarkable visibility, but visibility didn’t end slavery, segregation or give women the right to vote. Visibility doesn’t give us our rights to sit by a dying spouse in a hospital, protect us from workplace and housing discrimination and allow us to build loving families with the full rights and privileges enjoyed by straight couples.
We all need to become activists once again. Every GLBT individual and supporter needs to pull together and fight for each other. We need stand up together and be proud of who we are and fight in whatever way we can against those who oppose us and demand what should rightfully be ours.
Citizens for Community Values, Focus on the Family, National Organization For Marriage and countless other groups with their hatred, bigotry and ignorance ban together to demean, lie and defile us at every opportunity. They work together as one with just one goal — to deny us our rights and civil liberties.
We can’t allow that to happen any longer. We must stand up to them and show the world how heinous their hatred and bigotry really is and that we’ll no longer accept being treated as second-class citizens.
We’ll never have a better time than this.
Too many years have passed and too many of our friends have left us without knowing what true equality is. We cannot allow any more if our brothers and sisters leave this world as second class citizens.
Let us not forget the words that started our journey on that warm June night back in 1969 and lets continue fighting
“Why don’t you guys do something?”
Remember everyone of us is an activist for our fight for equality and we all should be doing something. Not only for ourselves. But to honor and carry on the work begun by our brave GLBT forefathers and mothers who stood up on that fateful night in 1969.
We can’t stop fighting until we achieve their goal.
Many LGBT Democratic supporters have had it. Fed up with everything from being thrown under the bus with the removal of LGBT protections in immigration reform to President Obama’s stubborn and stupid refusal to sign an Executive Order barring LGBT workplace discrimination for companies who hold government contracts LGBT donors are beginning to hold back money and support over the fact that the Obama administration and the Democratic party in general is proving itself to be all talk and no action.
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One of the growing many of the the disenchanted includes prominent gay Democratic Party donor Jonathan Lewis who provides fund LGBT groups such as Freedom to Work and gave the maximum amount of $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and the maximum amount of $2,500 to President Obama’s re-election campaign in the last election cycle.
During the immigration reform debate Senate Democrats had the opportunity to reverse some of the harm caused by DOMA and they buckled under pressure, essentially taking LGBT families for granted. With the president failing to deliver on his promised federal contractor executive order and with Senate Democrats caving to Republican threats, now is the time to stop investing in Democratic cowardice and stand proud by withholding donations until we see our friends’ actions and deeds align with their rhetoric — I will be withholding my donation and asking all of my friends and family members to do the same until such time.”
Steve Ralls, a spokesperson for Immigration Equality, said he’s heard from Democratic donors that they’re “rethinking the political contributions and priorities” following the exclusion of the amendment for gay couples from immigration reform. “I can assure you that in private conversations, significant Democratic donors have had with our executive director and with other people working on this said they were very disappointed in what happened last week, and they’re looking at where they invest their donations moving forward,” Ralls said.
Its well past time to flex some muscle, not only withhold not only contributions, but also to shame them and let them know that we won’t vote for them unless they keep their promises.
No more support on “sweet words and promises”. ENOUGH!
Support in both money and votes should only come AFTER the Democratic party actually does something substantial for us
Reiner:“We view this as the last leg of the civil rights race we’re running… The gay community is the only community in America that is viewed as less under the law of any group so this last little piece that we can hopefully put in place with our federal court challenge to Prop 8… There’s still a lot of work to be done and I don’t want anybody to think that we’ve won this. By no stretch of the imagination have we won this. Years from now we’ll look back and say, ‘what was all that fuss about?’ People will look back and say, you mean there was a time that women couldn’t vote? There was a time that blacks couldn’t vote or blacks couldn’t marry whites? I mean, we look at those things as ridiculous now and we will look at this as being ridiculous but right now we’re in the middle of a fight and we have to keep fighting… We’re going to win this, but we’ve got to keep our foot on the gas.” – Emmy-winning actor, director and activist Rob Reiner on Stephanie Miller’s Talking Liberally (Click the link to hear the full interview)
If you haven’t heard on On May 8th, North Carolina will vote on Amendment One, which bans marriage equality and any other form of recognition for same-sex couples.
Amendment One harms LGBT individuals, families, and especially children. It will hurt businesses and the economy when families decide to move out of a state that treats them as second-class citizens.
Today the Coalition to Protect All NC Families launches a week-long moneybomb to get over the $1,000,000 mark to combat and defeat the poorly-written discrimination measure which was speciffically designed to attack and hurt gay and lesbians in North Carolina.
Back2Stonewall.com supports the Coalition to Protect All NC Families bid to defeat this measure and ask that all our readers will join in to help.
If you can DONATE PLEASE DO. (Even our poor assed blog manages to scrounge up a donation thats how important we think this is!)
But even if you can’t donate YOU can still help!
If you’re on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll see a major social media fundraising push that you can help with by sharing and retweeting, joining state and national bloggers and the coalition campaign’s partner organizations in this grassroots fundraising push.
Send out these Tweets, passing along those hashtags!
Hickory, N.C.-native and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has vowed to help in the fight against anti-LGBT North Carolina State Legislators and will donate $10 for each person who likes Equality North Carolina”s page on Facebook — up to $10,000 — to support the work of the organization between now and Tuesday when the North Carolina Senate wil meet and has planned to sneak in a a proposed anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment that will ban marriage, civil unions and domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples
“As the co-founder of Facebook, I have some experience with the challenges of attracting the kind of driven, dynamic and diverse employees it takes to build a fledgling start-up into a full fledged economic success story,” Hughes wrote. “Companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are the future of our global economy. But the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment signals to these and other major employers, as well as their mobile, educated employees, that North Carolina does not welcome the diverse workforce that any state needs to compete in the international marketplace.”
King & Spalding, the law firm hired by the GOP Republicans to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and has placed a gag order on its employees following the hiring will likely face backlash from colleges and law groups over recruitment and Lambda Legal legal director Jon Davidson says that they won’t be involved with the firm any longer: “As legal director, I would take the position that we should not use them as cooperating attorneys with us — that is, people who work with us on a pro bono basis in cases. “I wouldn’t want to team with them, so long as they’re actively harming our community by defending DOMA.”
But what about the many LGBT Friendly Fortune 100 Companies that King and Spaulding represent?
If you go to the “King & Spaulding” website you will see that they currently represent over half of the Fortune 100 companies which include such gay friendly businesses as Delta Airlines, The Home Depot, and Google. Should not we, the LGBT Community be calling upon these companies to condemn them and to end their association with King & Spaulding in solidarity for the LGBT Community which they support?
Below is a list of companies that King & Spaulding represent.
Hint:HRC and The Task Force. You MIGHT actually want to do something like this and be USEFUL for a change.
Because if we don’t FIGHT with EVERYTHING we have and in EVERYWAY that we can. We will NEVER win our Equality.
A new organization dedicated to building a movement to accelerate full equality for LGBT people around the world, was announced today.
The new LGBT organiation named All Out will begin campaigning in early 2011, was founded by Jeremy Heimans, founder and CEO of Purpose and co-founder of Avaaz.org and GetUp.org, and Andre Banks, director of strategy at Purpose and former deputy director of ColorofChange.org. It is supported by an international advisory board of renowned civil rights organizers, online and offline campaigners, issue experts, policy makers and analysts, and human rights activists from around the world.
The group’s website explains that “All Out is bringing together people of every identity — lesbian, gay, straight, transgender and all that’s between and beyond — to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.”
The goal, All Out writes, is “to change culture — and policy — so that LGBT people everywhere can lead lives of dignity and share fully in community life.”
What a beautiful dream……
I really hope that this organization is the one that can make that dream come true.
We are in the midst of a horrible epidemic. An epidemic of LGBT teen suicide and violence. And while Gay Inc, and those in Government both gay and straight remain eerily silent about it bloggers and individuals have begun to up the torch to try to do something, anything to raise awareness and try to stop what is happening to LGBT youth. Most notable has been Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” program which has LGBT adults posting messages on YouTube to give teens hope that it will indeed get better with time.
In Palm Springs, CA Richard Noble is also doing his part to raise awareness. Richard is protesting the bullying of gay teens and plans to sit at a city corner of at Tahquitz Canyon Way and North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs to protest bullying every day for the foreseeable future besides him was a sign saying “homophobia and bullies kill” and a photo of Asher Brown, a 13-year-old Houston boy who shot himself Sept. 23 after he was bullied by classmates who thought he was gay.
I applaud Ricahrd Nobel and I applaud Dan Savage. This is something that we allneed to step up for and fight against. We must all start to raise awareness, and fight back for our little brothers and sisters who cannot defend themselves. And while “Fuckwits of the Family” and others pretend that this is not an issue and that it will destroy American Family “values” to protect gay children. (Just how evil are they, I mean really think about it) We must stand up for the youth. We have to stand up to their bullies and our bullies like FOTF and others.
We must not only give the message of hope to the young and raise awareness but we must also FIGHT BACK. For the kids and for us. Because as far as bullies go. Weather they be jocks in High School, or sanctimonious hateful bigot right wing “Christomaniacs” it’s also important to stand up to them and fight. It’s old advice, but it’s true. Pick the ringleaders and give back as good as you get.
We ALL must do something about this. (And believe me when I say it would give me GREAT PLEASURE to kick Tony Perkins; redheaded ass.
At this point, anyone who tells you that they’re going to pass the DADT compromise during the lame duck session (i.e., after the November election but before the new Congress gets seated in January), is either naive or simply lying to you. This Congress and this President wouldn’t even hold a vote on the health care reform bill – the President’s #1 campaign promise – after we lost Senator Kennedy’s seat and before Scott Brown was seated. Do you honestly believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress care more about passing gay rights legislation than they did about health care reform?
All three of Barack Obama’s most important promises to the LGBT community – DADT, DOMA, ENDA – are now dead in the water, in large part due the White House’s own malfeasance and neglect. And you’re expected to wipe the tears, open your wallets, and once again go to polls and vote for the same people who weren’t competent enough – who didn’t care enough – to keep their promises to you the first time around
Have we finally learned that Politicians are too afraid to fight for us, and that the “hearts and minds” bullshit just doesn’t work that any kind of “vote”, either public or private will ALWAYS screw us in the end (no pun intended) Because there will ALWAYS be people who HATE US,
The ONLY way to finally get our rights is through the courts and to start standing up and showing them that WE ARE ANGRY. (Not crazy teabagger angry. I mean we have a REAL CONSTITUTIONAL problem)
And you know what I don;t give a flying fuck if there are people out there who hate me. Because truthfully I hate them for being bigoted small minded evil people and maybe its about time we show it and they know it. Because this my children is where taking the moral high road and being above it all gets us. Royally fucked.
I would hope that by now, and especially after yesterday that we have learned that phone calls and letters and lobbying doesn’t work. The Politicos only do what they think is best for them. We now need to stand up and actually show anger, push, take to the streets and take to the courts. EVERY STATE should have lawsuits in them attacking DADT and DOMA. . This soft balling is killing us and keeping us stagnant. It is also why hate crimes are rising so much because it gives our enemies, and yes they ARE OUR ENEMIES time and an outlet to lie and fester hate against us.
It’s time to fight tooth and nail. To consciously set out to ppolitically destroy those who oppose us . But most of all we need to show some backbone.
Where’s the outrage over yesterday? Some blog posts don;t cut it. Where are the Marches and Rallies Why aren’t all the homo’s in DC handcuffing themselves to the White House fence?.
We’ve tried being PROACTIVE it’s now time to be REACTIVE. Now call Olympis Snowe, Susan Collins, Blance Lincoln and others and let them know how you REALLY feel about them and what they did. Let Obama and the DNC know.
We have two choices right no FIGHT or GET OUT. And everyone knows after November the next few years are going to be rough because the Republicans and Teabaggers are going to take the Hill so there is no chance of any gay rights measures making it through after November.
It’s time to change our strategy, its time to get mad.