Stonewall Stance and Movement
Today is the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in 1969, which are seen as the beginning of the LGBT social justice movement. When police raided a gay bar on a summer night in New York City, they didn’t expect push back from the clientele, but enough was enough.
“Stonewall became this symbol of feeling empowered” said Philip Bockman, reflecting on the time. The Stonewall Inn has been officially named a national monument to commemorate history so that it may be taught to future generations. While then Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality in Canada before Stonewall, it was the turning point of Stonewall that galvanized activism widely. later.
LGBT rights in the US and Canada have come a long way since Stonewall. On the issue of same sex marriage alone (and I recognize there are many issues that need addressing), it is now legal in many countries. Canada legalized it in 2005, but Conservatives took ten years to accept it in party policy; the US just marked their year anniversary of the US Supreme Court ruling making it accessible if people choose it. Not surprisingly, the world hasn’t fallen apart as predicted, although people like Kim Davis, the American county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses, have continued their personal stands.
While I take heart in hearing that anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage can barely stage a march as so few are up in arms about same sex marriage, it’s sadly easy to find discrimination and violence against LGBT people elsewhere. As the recent targeted murders in Orlando teach us, there is still a lot of work we need to do in addressing the fear and discomfort people have with LGBT people. Some of the work will take sexuality education, some of it will take challenging the religious, social and legal structures that support discrimination, rejection, and violence.
For the sake of each other and youth, the adult leaders in our futures, we need to continue to make the world as equitable as possible for LGBT people. Today we celebrate Stonewall; tomorrow it’s back to work.