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
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.
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
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