American Samizdat

Thursday, June 28, 2007. *
Today (June 28) is the anniversary (1969) of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Wikipedia states: Details about how the riot started vary from story to story. According to one account, a transgender woman named Sylvia Rivera threw a bottle at a police officer after being prodded by his nightstick. Another account states that a lesbian being brought to a patrol car through the crowd put up a struggle that encouraged the crowd to do the same . Whatever the case may be, mêlée broke out across the crowd—which quickly overtook the police. Stunned, the police retreated into the bar. [...] Throughout the night the police singled out many transgender people and gender nonconformists, including butch women and effeminate men, among others, often beating them. On the first night alone 13 people were arrested and four police officers, as well as an undetermined number of protesters, were injured. It is known, however, that at least two rioters were severely beaten by the police. Bottles and stones were thrown by protesters who chanted “Gay Power!” The crowd, estimated at over 2000, fought with over 400 police officers. The police sent additional forces in the form of the Tactical Patrol Force, a riot-control squad originally trained to counter Vietnam War protesters. The tactical patrol force arrived to disperse the crowd. However, they failed to break up the crowd, who sprayed them with rocks and other projectiles. [...] Eventually the scene quieted, but the crowd returned again the next night. While less violent than the first night, the crowd had the same energy as it had on the previous night. Skirmishes between the rioters and the police ensued until approximately 4:00 a.m.. The third day of rioting fell five days after the raid on the Stonewall Inn. On that Wednesday, 1,000 people congregated at the bar and again caused extensive property damage. [...] The forces that were simmering before the riots were now no longer beneath the surface. The community created by the homophile organizations of the previous two decades had created the perfect environment for the creation of the Gay Liberation Movement. By the end of July the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed in New York and by the end of the year the GLF could be seen in cities and universities around the country. Similar organizations were soon created around the world [...]. The following year, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, the GLF organized a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Between 5,000 and 10,000 men and women attended the march. Many gay pride celebrations choose the month of June to hold their parades and events to celebrate “The Hairpin Drop Heard Round the World."

Thank you to all those who have come before us who made the world a better place. More specifically, thank you to those who have moved homosexuality from 'sin' to 'mental illness' to 'lifestyle' to whatever it may be today and tomorrow. Some of those who came before us worked quietly, some publicly; some worked civilly, and some used physical force. I think some of each ended up having their place in making the world as it is today. And I think our work is not yet done.

Where work is needed most is not same-sex marriage, nor renters rights, nor lessening job discrimination, or passing 'hate speech' laws. These just aren't the most important or terrible things happening to homosexuals right now. The most important and terrible thing happening right now is that homosexual men (and sometimes women) are being put to death in Islamic countries. Being stoned to death really and truly is worse than being called a faggot, no matter what cultural relativists may have to say on the subject. All things are related but all things are not equally related. Efforts to make this a better world should continue in many areas, but "people being killed to appease an invisible monster that lives in the sky" trumps what I think much of the West pays attention to on Pride day. That noise about respecting diversity and honoring ancient traditions and the hands-off policy religion gets? That's all over now. When people stop dying, we can play nice-nice with theists again.

And so on this Pride day for 2007, I will do two things. I will give thanks where thanks is due. And I will suggest that more efforts need to be made toward saving homosexuals in Islamic counties. Homosexuality is still at the 'sin' stage in Islamic countries. Not in the all-but secular way the West talks about sin, but in the way religions have talked about sin throughout history: as a kind of germ that physically exists and must be physically destroyed.

Amnesty International has done some work on this topic. The International Society for Islamic Secularization has done some work on this topic as well. Jack Malebranche's book Androphilia isn't specifically on this topic, but is in agreement on this topic. What work will you do today?

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posted by Trevor Blake at 6:57 AM
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