As Pride month closes we should take a moment to address the proclamation made by the President of the United States of America, issued on June 1. In his opening statement, President Barack Obama declares:
Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Mr. President the reference to the injustices the LGBT community experienced at the Stonewall Inn falls short of addressing the harassment this minority continues to encounter throughout the country; including the abhorrent dismissal of our rights by your very own administration. While the repeated raids and unconscionable treatment of the patrons of Stonewall Inn led to rioting in the summer of ’69, four decades later our community is still faced with intimidation, coercion and even worse based on nothing more than our identity. This discrimination is only promoted as the government of the United States denies equality to LGBT citizens.
Repeating history and marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, the wee hours of Sunday, June 28, saw police raid the Rainbow Lounge; a gay bar, new to Ft. Worth, Texas. Reports indicate that two straight bars were also surprised with inspections by six Ft. Worth police officers and two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officers earlier that evening. Conflicting allegations by both the officers involved as well as patrons of the Rainbow Lounge about what took place during the raid leave much to be determined. However what is fact is that of those arrested at the gay bar one individual ended up in a sling while another ended up with a fractured skull.
Meanwhile, June 29, during San Francisco’s 39th annual Gay Pride festivities, vandals set fire to an acre wide pink triangle; a memorial designed to honor LGBT victims of the Holocaust. The message these degenerates sent is very clear. The smoldering embers of what is left behind of this symbol, is not only slightly representative of what our people have already gone through but also a reminder of those that wish to see our end.
Hanging in 35 elevators located within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) building, Washington DC, were posters commemorating LGBT Pride Month. Many of the posters were removed or defaced. As new posters went back up, they continued to be vandalized and torn down. This criminal activity is believed to have been executed by an employee of the department.
The DOL’s mission statement reads:
The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support.
The Department of Labor cannot keep a simple poster on the wall and while they claim to “guarantee workers’ right to safe and healthful working conditions” including “freedom from employment discrimination.” The LGBT community is faced with the reality of harassment in the workplace as well as wrongful termination based again on nothing more than our identity. What truly is the department’s message?
So we’ve covered the heartland. We’ve covered the West Coast…Ahhh, San Francisco. Gay San Francisco. Let’s move onto one of the most diverse cities of the U.S., New York City.
While in New York on business, Joe Holladay walked out of the apartment he was staying at to smoke a cigarette. Standing on the sidewalk, minding his business, Mr. Holladay was attacked by five to six men sporting “crewcuts, wearing wife-beaters” (yeah, those guys). Neighbors reported the group of men shouted anti-gay slurs, before the victim was struck down with a blunt object. Mr. Holladay and neighbors recall the assailants calling Mr. Holladay a “faggot” before and during the assault. Upon making his way down to the street, John Jerome (the apartment tenant), mistook Mr. Holladay for dead. Does this message need to be any clearer?
Back to the heartland, Omaha:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As William Crilly, 66 year old resident of Omaha, Nebraska, made his way through the Omaha Pride parade with a rainbow covered wagon and attached sign reading the above scripture, Romans 6:23, HRC volunteer Kendra Konrady took notice. At the time the make-shift float caught her eye, she was handing out the well known HRC equality stickers. Ms. Konrady then threw a few stickers into the wagon. The next thing she knew her arms were flailing as she was accosted by Mr. Crilly who grabbed her from behind and placed her into a headlock.
Apparently Mr. Crilly, like so many of the Religious Reich, does not believe in turning the other cheek, but sir…we did get your hateful message.
The invasions are not limited to public spaces or even the work place, they are even happening in private residences. While hosting a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Francine Busby, Shari Barman was arrested and several other guests were pepper sprayed by police officers. The officers had responded to a “noise complaint” they had received at approximate 9:33 in the evening (well before the city’s curfew on noise levels set in). Before and during the intrusion, an unidentified man (presumably a neighbor) could be heard shouting anti-gay slurs and other obscenities. Once again the message is clear.
And though the discrimination against the LGBT community is even recognized and acknowledged by the President of the greatest country in the mostly free world, little has been done to effectively make the changes necessary to raise our status to equal.
Mr. President, your proclamation ends by declaring June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month. You’ve called “upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.” What about June 2010…2011…2012 and so on? What is your message?
To you dear reader: although we have only been granted this one month, “in the year of our Lord, two thousand nine” by a President, who perhaps views us in a different light than his predecessors, do not be fooled. We must continue to celebrate our pride, make our way in this world and effectively change what is not right. The message is clear…no one will do it for us. Stand up, speak out and most importantly:
Celebrate your pride!
christophersays: Jay’s counter-part and partner authors the blog christophersays and helps out at the main site. Christopher and Jay often disagree about politics and the gay rights movement leading to very stimulating and sometimes frustrating conversations. Thus, Jay dubbed him a “radical.”