Thursday, August 20, 2009

If I Had a Billion Dollars

Steph just posted a group blog and the topic is "What would you do with a billion dollars?" I usually, don't participate in these things because I'm usually just too lazy.

The first thing I would have to think about is how much happiness money can really buy. I know it's corny, but if you really think about it, it has a ring of truth to it. I'm sure my happiness could be bought with far less than a billion dollars. Rarely, have I seen a thousand dollars (in the flesh) sitting in my hands all at one time, much less a billion. To me, 600 dollars is a lot of money. I could probably get out of debt entirely with a couple thousand. When first approaching this question, I had to find out how much a billion actually is. According to the internet search it is the equivalent of 1000 million dollars. 1 million is enough to buy you a very nice house. 1.5 million would not only buy the house, but furnish it nicely. Honestly I would be happy with a house around 40-50 grand, but that's just me. Anything is better than the crappy 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment I live in now. Let's just say 1.5 million for the house and furnishings...that leaves 998.5 million dollars left.

In my lifetime, I probably haven't made my first million, and I've lived without having to starve or anything, so it wouldn't take much to set me up for the rest of my life. Let's just say 10 million would set me up for the rest of my life. I could probably live with much less than that. Anything to get away from having to shop first at the Pick-n-Save, and scouting out different grocery stores to see who has double coupons. 10 million is by no means modest. I'm just being conservative and looking out for any possibility. Plus, my boyfriend would never have to work again, so I'm planning on two people. After house and living expenses, that still leaves 988.5 million dollars. With a couple of nice cars, let's just round it down to 988 million.

Now that Me and Doug are taken care of, it's time to think about family and friends. I only have my brother and father left in my immediate family and I think 5 million each is plenty enough for anyone. 5 million is enough for each family to live comfortably, so I will give 5 million to each family on my mother's side, which is about 50 million, and screw my fathers relatives, because they already have enough money and already treat our family like dirt, so screw them. All families considered, it's about 60 million, plus I have a few friends that I would like to take care of, so let's just say 80 million. That still leaves 908 million.

Okay, so now, I'm taken care of. Doug is taken care of. And my friends and family are set. What to do with the rest. I'll skim a couple of million off of the top to see the world. I'd really like to visit Europe, and the Middle East (praying that it's not a war zone by the time I get there). Hey, this is supposed to be fantasy, right? That still leaves 900 million.

What to do with the remainder...That's easy. Charities. Anything else, would seem a gross display of gluttony to me. Sitting on a pile of all that money, that one could not possibly spend in a lifetime is ludicrous. I hear all the time of celebrities and politicians sitting around in 30 and 40 million dollar homes. Is that really necessary? I just don't see the point in it. Is that what really makes one happy? As you can see by my breakdown of the above, far less is necessary to make a good life. Hell, I would be happy with 1 million. I get excited when I scratch a lottery ticket and win 50 dollars. 900 million, donated in charity, could really help a lot of people and you could still live like a rock star. You could even take another 500 million and still help a lot of people. When I see people who make billions of dollars, it never ceases to amaze me of the waste, that they leave behind them. For me, there is a point that you can reach, where the money just isn't enough. It's true that money can't buy happiness, but it can give you a good start.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anita Bryant and the Save Our Children Campaign

The Religious Right has been on the attack against gay people for a long time. Many younger gay and lesbian people are not aware of where all of this hatred started. Believe it or not, it wasn’t always like this. The Religious Right and the gay population used to live side-by-side in a “cold war” like atmosphere. They didn’t like us, but rarely ever bothered us, except for a few outbursts at gay pride celebrations. The crusade of the Religious Right to stomp out gay culture everywhere, began with a little lady named Anita Bryant.

Anita Bryant was a singer. A woman with a slightly religious background who ended up being the spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission. She was also a mother and starred in various ad campaigns for other labels, such as Coca Cola, Tupperware, and Kraft Foods.

In 1977, Dade County Florida tried to pass an ordinance that would forbid discrimination, due to sexual orientation. Anita was outraged at this. She said that homosexuals could not reproduce on their own and therefore were trying to push their “lifestyle” as an acceptable alternative to recruit children for their ranks. So she started a campaign called “Save Our Children” to rally support to stop the ordinance from passing. She teamed up with the likes of Jerry Falwell to organize a rebellion against gay rights, which were sweeping across the nation at the time.

“As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children, therefore, they must recruit our children’

“If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with Saint Bernards and to nail biters.”

In June of 1977, Anita Bryant’s campaign was successful and the ordinance was repealed by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

Gays and lesbians became outraged. They organized boycotts against the Florida Citrus Commission and encouraged others to stop buying Florida orange juice and other products. Many gay bars took “screwdrivers” off of their drink menus and replaced them with a drink called “Anita Bryant” which replaced orange juice with apple juice. Proceeds from these drink sales, went to fight the Save Our Children campaign.

After the repeal of the ordinance in Florida, Anita took her campaign to other states across the nation. Her success allowed her to try to pass the Briggs Initiative in California, which called for the immediate dismissal of any school employee who even spoke of homosexuality or homosexuals in a positive or neutral light. Thanks to many liberal organizations the Democratic Party openly opposed the legislation and the initiative suffered heavy losses during the election.

Eventually, thanks to the efforts of gays and lesbians, to boycott the Florida Citrus Commission, Anita Bryant’s contract was not renewed as spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission. As a result of her political views, she became too controversial and her singing career suffered. She ended her marriage with her husband and took on a new one, who tried to reestablish her singing career, but to no avail. She and her second husband filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and again in 2001.

Although she has apologized for her role in the Miami Dade incident and has taken a “live and let live” approach to gays and lesbians, many people still consider her to be the spokesperson for hate and discrimination in the gay community.

The importance of Anita Bryant in gay and lesbian history, is that it was the first time in America, that religious zealots took an open opposition to the Gay Rights Movement. All of the open hatred you see towards gay people by the religious zealots today, can be traced directly back to the Save Our Children Campaign. The Religious Rights sees the passing of any pro-gay laws, as a direct attack on their religious beliefs.

Know Your Own History!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thith Whole Nurturing Thing Iss Thilly!

I really don't care too much for the whole "Nature vs. Nurture" theory. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a debate between two schools of thought. One says that being gay is based on genetics (nature) and the other says that it is based on the upbringings of the child (nurture). All I know for sure, is that it is not a choice. I tend to go with nature theory, because there is so much evidence to the contrary. I was brought up in a household that consisted of two loving parents, and 1 brother (no sisters). According to "nurture" theory, I should be straight. Scientists believe that male children who are successors to thier siblings (younger children of multiple child households) are often coddled by their mothers and sisters, and therefore more likely to turn out gay. I was the oldest child and I am gay and my brother is not. And he was extremely coddled by my mother, so where does that leave me?

So I started to think. What is one thing, that sticks out like a sore thumb, that lets me know if someone is gay or not? Speech! I'm going to talk about gay men for the rest of this article, only because that is what I am familiar with.

My "gaydar" is not as good as some. Most people tell me they can spot another gay person at 100 paces. I can't. But let them open thier mouths and I could pick em out over the phone. I don't know why I have never seen any studies on this before.

When I was a child, I was sent to a speech thereapist to "cure" me of my speech impediment. I have also heard of many other gay men say that they were sent to speech thereapists too. Gay men have, what I call, a "gay accent". Being a lover of languages and speech, I can detect it anywhere (even if someone is trying to butch it up). I have seen young children with it, and more often than not, I pick up on that too. Hey, I guess it takes one to know one. Do children learn this way of speaking? Did someone tell them, "If you really want to sound gay, I suggest speaking with a lisp"?

Of course, it is more pronounced on some people, than others. My boyfriend and I, are "butchier" than most gay men. After all, I got speech therapy. But for some reason, when I tell new coworkers about my boyfriend, they don't seem the slightest bit surprised. I don't have a limp wrist. As a matter of fact I am quite staunchy and my walk is very "truck-ular" if that is a word.

Think I am wrong? Go to your local gay bar one night and just listen to the patrons talking. When the bartender takes your drink order, listen very closely. Tell me you don't hear something different. Go to a gay neighborhood and sit in the coffee shop and just listen. Can you pick em out? I can! Did they learn how to talk like that? My answer is no. Here's why.

When I was in high school, there were certain boys who got teased for being gay because of the way they talked. They tried very hard to hide it but all in vain. After I turned 21, and started going to gay bars, the same guys, who vehmenently denied thier gayness in high school, were sitting right there next to me, allbeit more comfortable around others of thier own kind. Now if they could hide their speech in high school, why wouldn't they do that?

Comedians and actors portraying gay people, camp it up with thier speech. If you couldn't see the comedien but listened to him/her, you would automatically know, what section of the population they were talking about when they started lisping and drawing out words. The "gay accent" is very distinct.

Being a speaker of German, I can tell you that it is not specific to American culture. When I hear German people speaking thier native tongue, the gay people sound different. Why is that?

If being gay is a choice, then why do gay children often have these speech differences from a very young age? Has someone taught them how to do that? Being coddled by thier mothers caused them to speak that way? It even happens when the child has never met a gay person. They still have this "accent". Enough so to keep speech thereapists in grade schools in business for a long time. I met one of my ex's nephews when he was 10 or 11. I knew it then. Sure as hell...Now that he is in his 20's...there he is sitting in gay bars and chatting up the lads on Myspace! How did I know? He didn't run around in dresses or wear his mother's shoes. I could tell just by listening to him. I leaned over to my ex and said, "THAT one, is going to be FAMILY!"

I don't speak as "gay" as I used to. Being in the army cured me of that. But it's still detectable to other people. I've been speaking that way, before I knew what a penis or vagina was. Hell, I've been doing since before I knew what "gay" was. No one taught me how to do it. I didn't mimick it from anyone else. It just sort of happened. If anyone knows of any studies that are done on this, please give me some links or titles to books so I can read more on this.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Mattachine Society

In my opinion, and for many American gay and lesbian people, the history of the Gay Rights Movement begins with The Mattachine Society in 1950. Up until that time, there were some movements in Europe (mainly in Germany and the Scandinavian countries), but American gays and lesbians were far behind there European counterparts. I think that speaks volumes about how homosexuality is viewed in America today, versus how it is viewed in Europe. Somehow it always seems like America is a little bit behind the times, but I digress.

The Mattachine Society was formed in 1950 by a former member of the Communist party, named Harry Hay. A few years earlier, he had some idea of what he wanted Mattachine to be, but his first few attempts failed to attract members. On November 11th, he met at his home in Los Angeles with his lover, Rudi Gernreich (who was already involved in gay movements in Germany), Dale Jennings, and a homosexual couple (Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull), and established the first meeting of the Society of Fools (later to become The Mattachine Society).
Most of the founders were former or current Communist members. Mattachine based its structure on the Communist Party, with different "cell groups" and "levels" of membership. Hay said that the wanted to create "a service and welfare organization devoted to the improvement of society’s androgynous minority".

Mattachine set itself up for obstacles from the very beginning, being as that it was formed by a group of communists in an era where McCarthy’s notorious witch hunts and disdain for homosexuals were commonplace. Members of the Mattachine were taking considerable risks by affiliating themselves with such a group. Crimes of homosexuality, at the time, were punishable in California, by prison terms as long as 20 years and/or "curing" treatments at state hospitals.

The Mattachine’s Goals were this…

1. Unify homosexuals isolated from their own kind

2. Educate homosexuals and heterosexuals toward an ethical homosexual culture paralleling cultures of the Negro, Mexican and Jewish peoples.

3. Lead the more socially conscious homosexual to provide leadership to the whole mass of social deviates

4. Assist gays who are victimized daily as a result of oppression

The Mattachine started out quite radical in its approach of introducing gays and lesbians to the mainstream society. People say that some of it’s meetings sometimes numbered around 200 people. Other chapters of The Mattachine Society began to crop up and down the California coast. Groups also began to spring up in places like Washington and New York. Although some of the groups were not officially affiliated with the original group. Mattachine protested outside government buildings, held seminars, and affiliated themselves with other later groups, later merging with One Inc. Together, Mattachine and One were vital in helping launch a magazine called One (after One Inc.). They also helped in the launching of "The Ladder", a magazine publication of The Daughters of Bilits (another early gay group focused on lesbianism).

In the Spring of 1952, one of the members (Dale Jennings) was arrested by an undercover police officer, for solicitation in a public park. Mattachine gained national attention, when it decided to contest the arrest in court, by enlisting an attorney. George Sibley, who was affiliated with the Citizens’ Council to Outlaw Entrapment, decided to defend Jennings in court. At that time, gay men usually just plead guilty to escape public scrutiny. Jennings declared that he was indeed a homosexual, but was not guilty of the charge. After a long battle, Jennings finally won, when the trial resulted in a deadlocked jury, and the case was dismissed. It was the first time a gay man had stood up to police entrapment in court and won. This court trial attracted membership to The Mattachine Society in droves.

In 1953 the founders of the organization began to lose control of its members. Gays and lesbians did not like the wording of "social deviates" in its constitution. They were also fearful of the organizations links to communism in a McCarthy era. Many feared for their jobs by being linked to the group. In 1953 the founders resigned from their posts. With the founding fathers gone, the new leadership decided to take a less militant approach to society, and suggested that it’s members "assimilate" into American culture and take a less radical approach. It adopted a non-confrontational policy, and as a result, membership decreased. Many members found the group too docile and passive for its efforts. Although Mattachine Society officially disbanded in 1961, many chapters (affiliated and non-affiliated) continued into the late 60’s. After the Stonewall riots, those groups who changed their policies to a more militant stance, gave birth to new organizations like Gay Activist Alliance and Gay Liberation Front.

I think the importance of The Mattachine Society in gay and lesbian history, is its outright bravery in a time when being homosexual could get you arrested and cause you to lose your job. Even much more so than faced by gays and lesbians today. It inspired other groups to form, where there were none before. It allowed people to become less isolated and find others of their own kind. Never before in US history had gays and lesbians met in an organized fashion.

Did you know…

.The Mattachine Society takes its name from a French Renaissance Group called Societe Mattachine. They were a band of men who went from town to town in masks, holding parties and peasant protests during the Feast of Fools (what we call April Fools Day today), They often did impromptu speeches denouncing the political conduct of the ruling monarchs

The magazine "One" was forbidden to be mailed in the U.S. on the grounds that it was "perverse, obscene and filthy". The U.S. postal service was challenged in court. "One" magazine won on the grounds that the court found that, talking or writing about homosexuality was "in and of itself, not obscene".

"Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gay Conversion Therapy and Ex-Gays...A Brief History

A few days ago, I read a blog by The Divine Grace. It was an open letter to the gay community about their lackadaisical attitude about gay and lesbian concerns. In the blog, there is an interview between Lady Bunny (organizer of Wigstock) and Larry Kramer (playwright and author of "The Tragedy of Today’s Gays"). I will add a link to the blog at the bottom of the page.

Larry Kramer seems to think that young people today, are passive about lesbian and gay issues. I believe that they are this way, because gays have less stigma attached to them, than in previous years. Although we still have a long way to go, we have not come full-circle. I believe it is necessary to learn from history, because as the saying goes…"Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

It’s important for the younger generation of gays and lesbians to know about their own history. Many of today’s gay and lesbian youths are clueless about topics such as Stonewall, Ex-Gay Ministries, Evelyn Hooker, The Well of Loneliness, Anita Bryant, The Mattachine Society and a myriad of other topics. Although, I have been lazy about current events recently, I want to get back into activism, and teaching gay youth about our history, and what it means to be gay in America. So, I have decided to write at least one blog a week, covering a new topic about gay culture or history.

I would like to begin by telling you, that I have a great appreciation for B-movies and cult films. A lesbian friend of mine, told me to watch the movie "But I’m a Cheerleader". Yesterday, I found the film and watched it last night. It was a very comical film about a cheerleader, who’s parents send her to a gay deprogramming camp. I decided today to do some research on Ex-Gay ministries and their deprogramming centers.

Although the film presented these "camps" in a very funny and exaggerated light, I found through research that even though the film was funny, it wasn’t far from the truth and that is a sad thing. Did you know that an Austrian endocrinologist, named Eugene Steinach thought that men could be cured of homosexuality, by transplanting testicles from a straight male, into a homosexual male? Later, in concentration camps, homosexuals were subjected to experiments, where their testes were replaced with artificial ones that released hormones in prescribed increments to cure them of homosexuality. Steinach’s research was considered to be flawed because most of the patients’ bodies rejected the new organs and was subsequently thought to be ineffective and harmful. Nazi experiments were said to have killed several patients and cured some. However, it is now believed that the homosexuals that did survive, said that they were cured, only in hopes of being released. Sigmund Freud’s beliefs that homosexuality was often the product of early childhood upbringings, was later accepted by the medical community to be the cause of homosexuality.

Much, much later, in 1957, Psychologist Evelyn Hooker published a research paper called "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual". In her studies, she found that homosexuals who lived an overt homosexual lifestyle, were no different or abnormal than heterosexual males in terms of pathology. She was the first person to say, that perhaps homosexuality is not a sickness at all. And if it’s not a sickness, then why cure it. Eventually, this paper leads the American Psychiatric Association, to omit homosexuality as a disease or disorder from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders in the 1970’s. Critics said that the change was brought about by pressure from gay supporters, but in a referendum vote the APA’s decision was upheld by a 58 percent majority.

Another thing that I found interesting in the movie "But I’m a Cheerleader", was that a lot of the techniques used by the ex-gay camp in the movie, are similar (if not identical) to the techniques used by today’s religious ex-gay ministries. In the movie, participants are encouraged to date other members of the opposite sex, have sex with members of the opposite sex, marry and have children, and shock aversion therapy. In the movie, participants in the camp do funny things like practice gender roles. They have classes for women in the art of scrubbing floors, and changing diapers. For the men they have classes on how to fix cars and play football. They even have a final step, in which members graduate by demonstrating a sexual encounter simulation with opposite sexed members. This all sounds very funny to us and the movie makes it downright comical to think that an institution would actually teach these things, but the irony is this.

During research I found that as late as 1991, a sex therapist named Joseph Nicolosi formed an intervention plan for homosexuals, in which male participants are forced to exhibit the following behaviors in order to condition them for heterosexual transformation.

1. Participate in sports activities.

2. Avoid activities that are of interest to homosexuals, such as art museums, opera, symphonies.

3. Avoid women unless it is for romantic contact.

4. Spend time with heterosexual men, in order to learn to mimic heterosexual male ways of walking, talking and interacting with heterosexual men.

5. Attend church and join a men’s church group.

6. Attend a reparative therapy group to discuss progress or slips back to homosexuality.

7. Become more assertive with women through dating and flirting.

8. Begin heterosexual dating.

9. Have heterosexual intercourse.

10. Enter into heterosexual marriage.

11. Father children.

Seems a lot like the movie if you ask me. The sad thing is that these people are serious and the movie is not. Some gay youths today, do not understand that this was and is a very real thing for some people.

For centuries, doctors and religious groups have tried to "cure" homosexuality. Everything from showing male patients pictures of naked men and shocking their genitals (shock therapy), to doctors using vibrators and dildos on women to cure them of lesbianism and sexual frustration. Homosexual people have been raped, maimed, and sometimes killed, in attempts to change their sexuality, simply because society frowns upon it.

Thankfully, due to the works of Evelyn Hooker, many accredited institutions frown on aversion or reparative therapies and programs designed to change one’s sexuality.
The American Psychiatric association has gone so far as to say that, these therapies are ineffective and harmful. American Psychological Association says that the conversion therapies are "certainly discredited" Out of all participants it has only been found that success stories offer only patients that have abstained from homosexual urges, but are still attracted to the same sex. Other accredited agencies who denounce conversion therapy...

American Medical Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Counseling Association
National Association of Social Workers
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
National Association of School Psychologists
American Academy of Physician’s Assistants
National Education Association

Interesting Facts about Ex Gay Ministries and Conversion Therapies…

Did you know that...

Ex-gay leaders Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper (co-founders of Exodus International) came out of the closet and got married in 1974. They quit the group and along with other Exodus leaders came out as gay and issued a formal public apology for their roles in the Exodus Ministries in 2007.

In 1962 one of the cures for homosexuality was giving the patient vomit inducing drugs, while playing audio tapes of men having sex and surrounding the patient with glasses of urine. The theory was, that gay men would be so sickened by homosexuality, that they would turn to women for relief.

A cure from the 1970’s, involves doctors suggesting that their patients masturbate intensely to homosexual images, and at the point of ejaculation, switching the images to heterosexual images.

Link to the Divine Grace Blog...Click Here!

Stonewall, A Brief History

The Stonewall Riots were a turning point in Gay History. Many Gay people, don't know their own history. I was telling someone the other day, that when I was 26 or 27 years old, I worked in a restaurant in a small southern town. A gay male couple walked into the restaurant. I had waited on them before. They were in their early 50's. One of them asked me if I knew what Stonewall was. I said yes and he asked me..."What is it?". This kind of shocked me, because I was expecting him to give me a lesson in gay history. Turns out, he didn't know, and was asking me if I knew. I find this sad, that people don't know about the history and organizations that have brought us where we are today. Some people have an idea about what Stonewall was, but are clueless on some of the details about why it was so important, and what effect it has on today's gay population.To understand the significance of Stonewall, we have to know a little about what times were like pre-Stonewall.

The movement towards gay and lesbian liberation, follows on the coattails of several other movements that were already in progress. Late in the summer of 1969, people were already acting up in ways that they hadn‘t before. The Civil Rights Movement, Women‘s Rights Movement, Protests against Vietnam and The Counterculture of the 1960‘s were already in full swing. Other than a handful of organizations at the time (Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis), gay and lesbian people had few outlets to meet others like themselves. The bar scene was the most obvious hang-out spot. Although, the bar scene came with it‘s own obstacles.

In the 1960‘s gay bars were under attack. Most gay bars had their liquor licenses revoked in an effort to "clean up the city" before the 1964 Worlds Fair. Bars suspected of being gay meeting places, were often frequented by undercover cops, pretending to be gay men, in order to entrap suspects and arrest them. At the time, there was no law against serving homosexuals, however the courts gave the SLA (New York State Liquor Authority) the sole discretion in revoking liquor licenses of those establishments that it deemed "disorderly". One of the things that the SLA deemed "disorderly" was any bar that allowed homosexuals to "congregate". None of the bars frequented by gay people, prior to the Stonewall riots, were owned by gay people. Most of them were owned by the Mafia and organized crime groups. These bars often operated with no liquor license and paid-off police officers to leave them alone. Those that didn‘t were subject to police raids. During a police raid, men in drag could be taken to the back of the bar to be searched to find out if they were indeed men, because of laws that prohibited cross-dressing. Women had to wear at least 3 articles of "feminine" clothing in order to escape prosecution during a raid. Many bars, had lights that would be turned up by the owners to let people in the bar know, that the bar was about to be raided. These lights warned their patrons to stop dancing and touching each other. A simple hand on another man‘s arm could be enough to get you arrested.

The Stonewall riots are named after the bar where they occurred (The Stonewall Inn). It was owned by the Genovese Mafia family and was subject to many raids. In the wee hours of the morning on June 28th, 1969, the bar became the subject of one such raid. It‘s said that the bar contained around 200 patrons that night and the police lined people up to check their ID‘s. Eventually, some of the drag queens refused to go to the back of the bar to be identified as men, and eventually, other patrons started refusing to show their ID‘s. The police then decided to take everyone downtown and sort them out there. Some of the patrons who were not arrested were allowed to leave, but they stood outside and watched the proceedings. Eventually, a crowd began to form. No one is quite sure who threw the first punch, but random scuffling between the police officers and the patrons being dragged out of the bar to the police wagons, began to infuriate onlookers (straight and gay alike). Crowds shouted anti-police sentiment. There were rumors of police beating patrons inside the bar. Eventually, pennies started being thrown because it was said that the bar was under attack because they had not paid-off the police that month. People started shouting " Let‘s pay them off now!" and people started throwing pennies at the police cars and vans. All of the sudden, pennies turned into beer cans and trash, and the trash turned into bricks. Reports say that the police were outnumbered by 500 to 600 people. Also police officers had barricaded themselves into the bar, along with detainees, for their own safety. People began throwing bricks into the bar windows, uprooting parking meters, and overturning police vehicles. Crowds began hurling lit garbage and spraying lighter fluid to burn the building down. Eventually, the Tactical Police force had to be called in, to clear the streets.

The next night, Christopher St. was in riot again, when people from the first night were joined by others who turned out to support the cause. Cars and busses arriving onto Christopher St. were harassed unless they admitted their support. All of Christopher St. was blocked and the Tactical Police Force had to be called in again.

The importance of the Stonewall riots, was that for the first time in modern history, gay people had taken a stand against their oppressors. Gay people began to realize that there is strength in numbers. Stonewall was not a "planned" event. It was the same spark that had incited other modern movements. They had simply had enough. Although a few other pro-gay groups had existed since the 50‘s, between 1969 and 1975, New York began to see an onslaught of new radical gay groups emerging. At the forefront was the Gay Liberation Front. Unlike earlier gay groups (Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis), Gay Liberation Front proposed a more radical way of bringing gays and lesbians into the mainstream. They thought that groups like The Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis were too soft and even accused them of using names that were obscure, in order to mask their intentions, instead of using the word "gay" in their namesake. They thought that earlier gay groups were too subtle and subdued. Inspired, by the riots, they did things never thought of before. They held all gay dances and public demonstrations., that were similar to anti-war demonstrations of the time, unlike their quiet predecessors before them. The problem with Gay Liberation Front was that their meetings lacked organization. Soon enough, because of their outspoken attitude, other groups started to emerge, like Gay Activists Alliance and Salsa Soul Sistas.

The greatest impact of the Stonewall riots, is that it took being gay out of dark alleys and shameful closets. It brought about a generation that would no longer put up with archaic stereotypes and old moral codes. It brought about a change that would allow us to live our lives in public, without the harassment of police. We found that we did not have to put up with other people‘s opinions about how to live our lives. Thank God for Stonewall!

Did you know….

Most Gay Pride parades and celebrations are held towards the end of June, to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The most liberal newspaper at the time „The Village Voice" refused to print the word „gay" in Gay Liberation Front advertisements seeking new members.

Early gay bars were run in the same fashion that most speakeasies did, during prohibition. Having to know someone or using a password to get in, was common practice for owners of so-called „gay bars".

The FBI kept a list of known homosexuals in the 1950‘s and 1960‘s and the US Post Office tracked addresses to which homosexual publications were sent.

Those who got caught during police raids on gay bars, would have their names and pictures printed in the newspaper. Many lost their jobs after being discovered in the newspaper by their employers, even if they were not prosecuted.