Tag Archives: D.C. Black Pride

OP-ED: Reason to Rally – Activism just as necessary 40 years after Stonewall

*This is an article that I wrote and was published in Cincinnati City Beats 2009 Gay Pride Issue.  In honor of Pride Month, and also for the fact that there has been no substantial change over thr past year I am republishing it.

Many people believe that gay and lesbian activism and our fight for GLBT equality began the night of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. But as early as 1895, a group of New York “androgynes” called the Cercle Hermaphrodites united “for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.”

Many people believe that gay and lesbian activism and our fight for GLBT equality began the night of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. But as early as 1895, a group of New York “androgynes” called the Cercle Hermaphrodites united “for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.”

Early groups such as these were helpful in Illinois in 1962 becoming 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.

Since then, the cause has undertaken different forms. An angry queer in a T-shirt and jeans might have symbolized the gay activism of the 1970s, but the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s caused a significant change in approach. By the end of the ’90s, gay advocacy was symbolized by wellgroomed people sitting on boards, issuing press releases, asking for contributions and hosting galas.

We now donate instead of protest. We sign countless petitions and then sit behind our computers and bitch and moan about our oppression instead of doing something about it ourselves.

Our cause has been splintered, fragmented and hijacked into specific issues such as gay marriage, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act and introducing hate crime laws instead of what we should be doing: standing together as one and fighting for federal recognition and protections.

Stonewall starts it all

It’s been 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. 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, the crowd did do something.

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 become activists for each other. We need stand up 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 and ignorance ban together to demean, lie about and defile us at every opportunity. They work together as one with just one goal — to deny us our rights.

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. Let us not forget the words that started our journey on that warm June night back in 1969: “Why don’t you guys do something?”

D.C. Rap Artist WALE Apologizes To Crowd At D.C. Black Pride Event – (Video)

Wale, a rap music artist from the Washington area was slated to perform for DC Black Pride, but his management apparently canceled after realizing that Black Pride was an event for the LGBT community. Many bloggers who disapproved of the cancellation picked up on the story. On his Twitter page, Wale seemed to say he knew nothing about the booking or cancellation. Adding to that, he seems to be saying here that he did not agree with his management’s decision to cancel.

”One thing I stand for is hip hop music. And hip hop music knows no race, no color, no age, no gender, no sexual orientation — none of that. So, the most important thing about it is the music, and if it makes the people feel happy, that’s what we hear. I will say, sometimes in this business you get aligned with people that don’t understand that, or don’t necessarily have the same beliefs that you do. And I apologize for not, you know, having my best foot forward to understand the people I’m in business with. And I’m going to do better. As we all do. People we — everyday we got to get better. So, I apologize on behalf of my team, for not being the way they’re supposed to be.” 

”My thing is, your personal life is your personal life…. Whether you agree with it or not, [homosexuality] is not going anywhere. It’s just something that you got to accept. They’re people just like you are. Taxpayer citizens just like you are…. I don’t personally know any gay people, but one thing I do know, we have the same heart and the same soul. It’s a fact of everyday life. At the end of the day, whether you’re straight, gay, Spanish, black, white, tall, short, you know — amputee or whatever — you just got to live your life.”

Wale, did indeed perform at DC Black Pride and spoke with MetroWeekly at th event

Rapper Artist Wale Cancels D.C. Black Pride Gig: "I Didn’t Know Black Pride Was A Gay Event"

Turns out popular D,C.  rapper Wale is a raging homophobe and has canceled his scheduled headlining appearance DC’s Black Pride. Because he didn’t know it was a gay event.  (Hey Wale! Way to promote a stereotype there!)

Black Pride organizers were startled this week when they received two e-mails from Wale’s agent, one saying the rapper had to cancel due to “family obligations,” and the second saying he didn’t know Black Pride was a gay-related event when he agreed to appear. “We were clear about what kind of event this is,” [organizer Earl] Fowlkes told the Blade. “After doing this for 20 years, we certainly don’t want to put ourselves and the artist in an uncomfortable situation by not telling them what we are. “We’re Black Gay Pride, and the people coming out there are members of our community,” he said. “We made that very clear.” Fowlkes said Black Pride officials believe homophobia was the underlying reason that Wale cancelled his appearance. He said Wale’s agent has refunded an advance fee that Black Pride made to book the rapper, but noted the group is considering taking legal action for what Fowlkes described as a breach of contract.

Someone needs to inform Mr.Wale that THE GAY, much like THE BLACK, will not rub off on you.

And a note to DC’s Black Pride.  .Why would you book a str8 thug homophobic rapper for a Gay Pride event when there are plenty of gay artists  and gay friendly artistWe always look for some outsider to give us entertainment at our own community events when we have plenty of entertainers/performers who are part of our own community.Its GAY PRIDE for fucking christ sake,how about keeping it GAY.We need to support those in our community instead of all the time supporting non-gay folks,just because of their “well-known” status