It's Pride time and our opinion piece was going to be another attempt to convey the spirit of Pride and the reasons why it even matters in 2007. We were feeling this would be an uphill battle. You see Pride in America is now taken for granted. Another parade, another festival. Do we need to see Dykes on Bykes...again?

Then this happened: The AP wire service on May 27th reported that Gay Pride supporters in Moscow were attacked, insulted, egg-tossed, and punched and kicked on their way to hand over a memorandum signed by more than 40 members of the European Parliament requesting permission to hold a gay pride march in central Moscow to mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Mr. Luzhkov already had banned any such demonstration and earlier had described Gay Pride marches as a “work of Satan”. Both the attackers and demonstrators were arrested by police who intervened much later.

BBC News quoted gay rights activist Peter Tatchell as saying, “We were violently assaulted – I was battered in the face and the eye, and knocked to the ground, kicked and beaten. The Moscow police astonishingly, arrested me and let my attackers walk free.”

In Russia homosexuality is blamed for a raft of social ills. Russian president Vladamir Putin has blamed it for a declining birth rate. New legislation introduced last week seeks to pull back the curtain of progress to Stalin-era criminalization of homosexuality.

Pride rally in Moscow turns violent

Yet, were we not in this position in 1969 when the Stonewall riots began? It is difficult to believe that in the mid 60's people were routinely arrested, their only crime being present in a gay bar during a police raid. During these raids police would often beat-up any resistors. Homosexuality was illegal in most states.

Then on June 28th 1969 the patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City fought back against the police. The Stonewall Inn had had a long history of being raided by the police, probably due to its mainly transgender and drag queen clientèle. Yet during this raid the drag queens resisted. The ensuing riot, which lasted several days and included as many as 2000 demonstrators at its height, has often been given credit as the flash point that sparked the modern Gay Liberation Movement.

It is ironic, even comical, to think that the farthest fringe element of gay society, often cited as the weakest link in our gay chain, the effeminate man who never denied his gay identity was the first to stand up and resist while the Rock Hudsons of the world remained quiet and hidden.

Gay Pride around the world celebrates the progress the movement has achieved since Stonewall, we have gained the right to free assembly, but full equality remains an elusive goal. Yet as we gained tangible rights, visibility, and even acceptance the Gay Pride event has come under attack as a distraction, an over commercialized event ripe with images that inevitably our foes use against us.

While todays event is more commercial than political, ask Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov if a commercial version of a Gay Pride parade would be more acceptable for his city? It would not be, you see what makes our enemies cringe is the fact that Gay Pride exists at all, the event is the political statement. The inescapable truth is that Gay Pride is more than a parade or festival but a spirit of resistance, and while its images of leather daddies, drag queens, and Dykes on Bykes may provide fodder for our foes, for the gay community it provides a healthy dose of...wait for it...pride!

Meanwhile back in Moscow, it's sad that Pride season should begin with violence, that the simple right to free assembly is still being fought for. These events only prove to highlight why we must continue to fight, remain proud, and reach out to others.