People of faith, particularly in the mainline denominations of Christianity, are always being brought into contact with the text that help to shape their beliefs about God, Christ, and Spirit. Celebrations of the Eucharist, and the major religious holidays with their traditional hymns and scripture lessons serve as a way to re-member ourselves to the Holy One.
History gives one a sense of a past which has brought us to the present moment and guides us to the future.
This is why it is so important for queer people to learn their history, much of which has been hidden from them because it was not deemed important enough to talk about (yet another way to marginalize us).
I'm often very surprised to meet people, gay and non-gay, who don't know what I mean when I talk about "Stonewall". Can you believe there is ANYBODY who hasn't heard the story of the June '69 riots that rocked the Village in New York when the trannies and other patrons at the Stonewall Inn bar fought back against yet-another police raid of their local mafia-owned watering hole?
Young queers here in Florida probably aren't aware of the McCarthy-esque witch hunts led by State Sen. Charlie Johns of Starke from 1956-1965. Johns chaired the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee which targeted gay men and lesbians in state government and public schools and the universities. More than 100 employees and students had their lives destroyed by the committee's work which mercifully came to an end with a power shift in the state legislature... and the publication of the "racy" purple pamphlet. The pamphlet was meant to cause shock and awe with many photos of men kissing each other in half-naked poses. Instead it caused revulsion and anger that taxpayers money was being used to publish such "filth."
These are some of the saints and martyrs that fed the spirit of Pride celebrations in the years. Knowing the events, and even names, of those who have gone before is very important. Hearing about the struggles that plagued the LGBT community, from the Anita Bryant Save Our Children crusade against human rights for LGBT people to the current day struggles of marriage rights gives hope to those who without a history may think their issues are new. They aren't. Many have come and gone and died and loved to get us to Friday night's momentous occasion in New York. Just knowing that there were people hugging and kissing and celebrating on Christopher Street in front of the Stonewall Inn after the marriage equality vote gives me goose bumps.
|From the documentary, "Screaming Queens" about a riot in 1966 in California at the Compton Cafeteria|