What Today Brings
There is a widespread celebration this week called Pride. It is a coming together to collectively support each other to love who we choose, dress how we choose, be what we choose. It is in observance of the right every individual has to be comfortable in their own skin no matter if they identify as gay, straight, bi-sexual, asexual, transsexual or transgender. Rainbows everywhere honor the myriad of ways people express their sexuality. On Friday, June 27, 1969, a group of New York City policemen raided Stonewall, a Greenwich Village bar frequented by gay men and women. Tired of being abused and terrorized, the LBGTQ community, along with many supporters, fought back and the violence that ensued was called the Stonewall riots. The first gay pride parade was held a year later in 1970 to mark the anniversary of the uprising. Societies across the globe have literally forever been trying to deal with this reality. How we could go through hundreds and hundreds of centuries stomping our feet over the same issue and still come up with lack of tolerance is unfathomable. History informs us that in Mesopotamia around 4,000 BC, the wheel was invented, as was cursive script and mathematics, also there was apparently nothing wrong with homosexuality. 600 BCE China called same sex relationships the southern custom and the cut sleeve. Men in Ancient Greece were open about their sexual adventures. Alexander the Great, Michelangelo and Virginia Woolf are a few who enjoyed great societal influence and openly engaged in same sex activity. You would think that as the years and centuries passed we would have gotten a grip on human nature and become less shocked, less impressed by someone who prefers the same sex over the opposite. This has, unfortunately, not been the case. It is as if we are fugitives from our history and each generation comes along and instead of carrying the knowledge from the past, there is a push for blind intolerance. In the 1970s, around the time of the equal rights movement and when lesbian tennis pro Billie Jean King proved a woman could beat a man, Anita Bryant wanted to “try to get rid of the homosexuals and their demon lifestyle.” Bryant pushed for anti-gay laws and under the guise of Christianity pushed forward with one of the most perverse hate campaigns ever witnessed. She smiled as she disgracefully used God as a weapon against love. Good old Anita would certainly have been on board with the courts during the crusade that destroyed one of the most celebrated intellectuals of literary history. On April 26, 1895, Oscar Wilde, who penned “The Importance of Being Ernest,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “Lady Windermere’s Fan” was tried under Britain’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 which criminalized homosexuality as “gross indecency.” He was sentenced to two years of hard labor. By the time Wilde was released, his health had deteriorated as much as his spirit. He died 13 years later, penniless and exiled in Paris at the age of 45. Those dark moments should be taught as far gone cautionary tales about what could happen when a society breeds intolerance. Instead, we seem to still be in the fight. Maybe it is equally as much a part of human nature to hate what we don’t understand as it is to love unconditionally. Why else would there still be such spectacles as I saw this weekend in Lexington during the Pride festival. In a sea of rainbows, a few men held bullhorns on a makeshift stage and screamed under a painted sign that read, “Repent or Perish.” There will be those who fear change, but is it really too much to ask for us to evolve once and for all? I am skeptical at this point. In any case, you will find me on the side of love every time. Luckily, I have a lot of company.