Sunday, June 28, 2015

Uncharted Territory

Friday will be etched in the annals of Gay history in the landmark ruling of the U.S. Supreme court, stating that same-sex marriages were protected under the constitution of the United States. For years the Equality movement has been pushing for rulings like this, along with the Gay Pride festivities that are celebrated in every state in the Union.  However, the Gay community is embarking on a journey into uncharted territory and with the southern states vowing to find away around the ruling, which only further promotes the intolerance, bigotry and hatred of the right wing conservatives and the southern baptist convention.

Many of today's youth who are out revelling in this years pride festivities have no idea of the origins of the pride march, or what happened at Stonewall or even comprehend the battles and sacrifices that we the elders of the Gay community made and suffered during the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.  In 2004, the equality movement was formed in San Francisco, California and over the years has been joined by equality groups and marches in just about every city in the world.  The gay movement or equality or equal rights for gays, minorities etc. started in the United States but has become a world-wide theme.  Other countries are more liberal in their ideas and morals on sex so it was an easy foothold for the movement to have spread to those cities and countries.

More and more I see LGBT couples demonstrating their love out in the public domain, and I must say that popular opinion has been more accepting of them.  I have seen movies where there is a gay character and believe it or not gay has been nothing new to Hollywood, check out the movie the "Celluloid Closet" if you have any doubt.  I have heard it said in several movies actors stating "I was out before it became cool to be Gay".  Yes, the tide is turning but we aren't still there yet, there is more to do than having pride celebrations around the country and the world.  We as elders of the gay community must be sure to teach and remind those that are coming up behind us that the freedoms that they are experiencing and celebrating were hard won battles.  People have lost their lives and we need to never forget the dreadful 80's where we lost hundreds if not thousands of our brothers and sisters that fell ill to AIDS. Remind the youth that Pride is more than a big party and concerts and merchandise, it is a movement a social trend, and awakening of the consciousness of the nation and the world that we are here and we are not going away.  There are no closets for us to cower in, we will not be intimidated and fearful because our fathers, brothers, sisters have won these freedoms and we respect the sacrifices and hard won victories that result in the era of calm today.

I was born in 1968, I don't remember the Stonewall Riots in New York and the eruption of indignation that followed and the formation of the movement that would become GAY PRIDE and the battle for EQUALITY, but I was fortunate to have older friends that told me and taught me the meaning of what the nation and our forbears went through to win me the freedom that I see and experience today.  PRIDE is more that a party, it is a victory celebration that denotes all the barriers, prejudice and hatred that we as a community have overcome and survived.  It is also a time for remembering all that have fallen for us. Those that have died because of persecution, hatred and of course bigotry.  Unfortunately, the war hasn't been won yet, and the conservatives and the southern coalition and the baptist are arming for war, we have won a major victory, but with every victory comes casualties.  We as a community must once again join in one voice and denounce the Governors of Texas, Louisiana and any other state that feels that they don't have to uphold the ruling of the Supreme Court.  We must let them know that we will not tolerate their hatred, their bigotry and their idea of right and wrong.  For we as individuals, deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity.

I remember how in 1986 mortuary's and funeral homes often refused to pick up the bodies of those that had died of AIDS, I remember the indignity my own lover endured once he found out he was ill, and I also remember how in the final moments of his life he couldn't remember who he was much less who I was or his parents.  The years of the pain that I have felt as others have judged me and yet I am excited yet frightened at the same time by the ruling that was handed down by the Supreme Court on Friday, because we are heading into uncharted territory.  Now, that the ruling has been handed down and I have seen the reactions of some of the southern states, I am worried that the time might have changed and popular opinion has changed sides, but I know what happened during 1960's when a call to end segregation went out.  How riots rocked cities, and the national guard was called out to enforce the law.  Today we are facing something similar, I believe that there are going to be groups that strike out and violence might erupt.

The Gay community may not be prepared or even aware of the ramifications that this ruling will cause.  But, as I noted the times are changing and more people are open and more accepting today than they have ever been.  I urge caution, understand that changes are going to have to occur nationwide, that state governments as well as municipalities are going to have to change their practices.  There are also now going to be gay divorces and courts are going to have to rule on asset separation, and a paradigm shift is going to have to start from the Capital of the United States down to every local government.  Change is good and is inevitable but remember caution as we move down this road that we have no map or direction, for this is the first time that we have stepped on it.

The road less traveled is often fraught with perils, pitfalls and holes but the reward for following it is so much greater.  Which road will you choose?  Will you journey with the majority or will you walk with me on the path to the uncharted territory, I promise our journey maybe hard, and dangerous, but it will be beautiful and the rewards at the end justify it all.

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B