Tymm Conner is a valued and uniquely valuable contributor to the Give ‘em Hope Campaign and as an administrator for the Give ‘em Hope group on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/GiveEmHope/
), he has brought an abundance of kindness, wise and supportive words of guidance and inspiration. Here, he shares his perspective on Gay Pride, Stonewall, Harvey Milk, and History.
Oil on Canvas, 2002 by George Towne
During a particularly loquacious and prolific time a couple years ago, I wrote this little essay after Gay Pride. I’d heard a rather alarmingly large amount of the LGBT Community complain that Pride was a time of shame for them because of the debauchery of the weekend. Yes, I was a little pissed off. In fact, I can honestly say that the attitude still, indeed, sticks in my craw and I can’t believe that folks don’t want to be a part of the weekend when it commemorates some incredible steps toward equality. I was told, once, that if one wants to affect change, one must become a part not stand apart, (Tymm Conner paraphrase, and I like it better!! ). I share this with you, the Give ‘Em Hope Campaign, now because we are just a few short weeks from the time that Pride festivals the world over will begin. I share with you the history of Pride and the great history of the last forty years. Young people, this is why you are able to come out MUCH earlier than many of us in our forties, fifties, and sixties. These are only a few high, and low, points in history that led to eleven states and many nations to have marriage equality. Know that you are the inheritors of a grand legacy, even with the periodic debauchery. Remember, Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras are replete with debauchery as well.
Coming out of Gay Pride Month, I have some observations. I just finished watching “Milk”, again. Of course, I cried. I always do. Do I cry because an explosive powerhouse for the Gay Community was shot down, senselessly, by a jealous politician, before his time? Yes. Do I cry because while we have come so far since 1978 yet have so far to go? Again, yes. Do I cry because it was SO well written and acted? DUH!!!
However, there is SO much more to cry about.
I think of those who have gone before me and the crap they went through to give me and my peers, as well as the younger generation, the freedom to walk hand in hand down the street without fear of being arrested.
The reason behind our Pride celebrations dates back to 1969 in a little bar in New York. Stonewall was a wonderful little hole-in-the-wall where drag queens performed and drank; businessmen went to find a trick or simply to hang out and have a cocktail; hustlers even plied their trade, (c’mon! You DON’T think THAT didn’t happen, do you?); and everyday, common queers went to be free to be themselves without fear of retribution. Yet, there was retribution. The police raided Stonewall regularly. Then one warm evening in June, the drag queens had enough. The police raided ONE too many times. AND WIGS WERE FLOWN!!!!!
Yes…National attention on a little dive bar in New York. But the spark began the flame that burns brightly to this day. And, every year, we honor those queens and the others in the bar who said, “THAT’S ENOUGH!!!”
Then…we have Arthur Ashe and Rock Hudson. Heroes in my book. Too lately honored and not nearly honored enough. One great athelete infected through a transfusion and one gay man, who had to stay closeted, until it was discovered they had “The Gay Cancer”. Two men, who in the prime, when they should have enjoyed life, FOUGHT for life. They, mournfully, lost the fight. But, their strength lives. Again…NOT honored enough.
Harvey Milk and supporters children along with his openly GLBT nephew Stuart Milk.
Harvey Milk was a man who, at 40, decided he didn’t want to die without having “done something”. Politics literally fell into his lap. Why? He was confronted with some horrible hate-filled homophobia in his own neighborhood. But, he fought. He ran for City Supervisor three times…losing…and for a State Senate seat…again, losing. But won when the political climate was correct and the districts in San Francisco shifted so that the votes were his.
He pushed for, and won, equal rights for homosexuals in San Francisco. At the same time, many of us remember, Anita Bryant and her group were taking rights away from gays faster than an oversexed whore on the docks. (How’s that for an analogy?) Prop 6 was on the ballot in California, threatening to take jobs away from teachers who were gay. The Governor, Jerry Brown, Former Governor, Ronald Reagan, and even the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, were against Prop 6. Harvey Milk, and others, pushed for the defeat…AND WON!!!
Today, state by state and VERY slowly, we are winning our right to marry the one we love, whether or not they are opposite gender. But the fight is difficult. The climb is uphill. But, if we remember those who have gone before us, we will realize that we CAN win.
I am weary of the ones who say that Gay Pride is foolishness. I am weary of those who say that during that time they are ashamed. I am saddened they seem to think they are “above it all”. Gay Pride is not something to be ashamed of. It is something to celebrate. Mardi Gras has a tendency to be VERY vulgar and “In-Your-Face”. It is a time to party and let one’s hair down. The same for Gay Pride Weekend, whichever weekend it may be in June for your area.
We struggle through the year. We fight for rights. We battle the homophobes at our workplace and within our families. We hear the religious rhetoric from pulpits and, yes, even legislature. So…our ONE weekend where even the MOST conservative among us appear in public in ass-less chaps or in a dress and wig SHOULD be celebrated. It is a time when politics, fun, history, present-day, and personalities come together in a conglomeration of spaghetti noodles and make for a delicious treat.
If you have spent the time to read this entire rambling, I thank you. If you have, I also ask that you take a step forward with your thinking and a step back with your cynicism and remember those drag queens of Stonewall and Arthur Ashe, Rock Hudson, and, especially, Harvey Milk, and do something for our community. I don’t know what I will do. I only know that I am contemplating ALL of my options and will do what I can, when I can, where I can, to make our country what it was built to be…FREE!!!!
I’m hoping that you’ll share your inspiring and positive energy with the world through my Give ‘em Hope Campaign; an inspirational online video initiative to inspire and uplift those who feel marginalised or isolated. We exist to bring hope to those who need it most.
The purpose of the campaign is to encourage the benefits of living authentically. We should not be limited by labels that are imposed by others, if these labels are negative and wrong; especially when it comes to stereotyping and when the result may be lowered self-esteem and a possible impact upon an individuals ability to fulfil their personal potential.
Make us a video or write about this. Your story or your video can have such an impact and would be a welcomed addition to this campaign. Here is a link to the fb group for more info: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GiveEmHope/
Please Check our UPDATED WEBSITE HERE for INCREDIBLE VIDEOS OF HOPE AND INSPIRATION: http://www.nbiassociates.co.uk/Give–em-Hope-Campaign.html