The biggest LGBTQ event in history1 was exactly two years ago today — and the Complimentary Spouse and I were there! More than five million people participated in WorldPride. It was legendary. The parade had hundreds of floats, thousands of marchers, and at least three million gallons of glitter.
Animals can be gay! Scientists have observed same-sex behavior, including pair bonding and parenting, in many species.
My favorite same-sex animal couple is Roy and Silo, a pair of chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo. When an opposite-sex penguin couple couldn’t take care of a second egg, Roy and Silo took over. Their daughter was named Tango.
Sadly, as with all celebrity couples, Roy and Silo eventually drifted apart. Roy wrote a tell-all book and Silo opened a gallery in Marfa. Tango is currently studying art history at Oberlin.
Anything I write about the Stonewall Riots, which began 52 years ago today, will pale in comparison to what others have said. Let’s just say that the shot glass heard ’round the world changed millions of lives for the better.
While Stonewall was the event that galvanized the LGBT rights movement, there were many organizations advocating for equality before the first brick was thrown.
Two of the most famous are the Mattachine Society, founded in 1950 to support gay men, and the Daughters of Bilitis, founded in 1955 for lesbians. Both organizations no longer exist. When they were active, LGBT people were considered mentally ill and couldn’t hold certain types of jobs. I’m sure many members of both groups were forced to remain in the closet.
The people who came forward publicly were remarkably brave and deserve our respect and gratitude.
Check out “The Deviant’s War” by Eric Cervini to learn more about the Mattachine Society and its founder, Frank Kameny.
Six years ago today, the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. It’s hard to describe to straight people exactly how momentous this was.
This passage is one of the most profound things I have ever read:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Before that watershed decision, LGBTQ people were seen as sick people in need of a cure. Today, the medical community is often at the forefront of the fight for fair and fact-based healthcare for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people.
You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the bigot brigade still considers LGBTQ people to be mentally ill. (The bullshit claim I hear most often today is that trans people suffer from “gender dysphoria.”) Well, to paraphrase an incredibly old joke, if being gay is a sickness, I’m calling in gay to work.
Today is the 48th anniversary of the UpStairs Lounge massacre. The UpStairs Lounge was a gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Someone set fire to the bar, and 32 people died from fire or asphyxiation.
It is believed, but not confirmed, that the arsonist was a gay man who had been kicked out of the bar. The press mainly ignored the fact that LGBTQ people were victims. Many churches refused to hold services for the dead. And some families wouldn’t reclaim the remains of their sons or brothers.
There are a number of books and documentaries about what happened at the UpStairs Lounge. Until Pulse, the UpStairs Lounge arson was the biggest mass murder of LGBTQ people in U.S. history. Rest in Power.
When people say “both political parties are essentially the same,” I just want to cut a bitch. When it comes to LGBTQ people, there is an enormous rift between Democrats and Republicans.
In 1980 — yes, 41 years ago — the Democratic National Committee became the major first party to call for protecting gay and lesbian people:
“We must affirm the dignity of all people and the right of each individual to have equal access to and participation in the institutions and services of our society. All groups must be protected from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, language, age, sex or sexual orientation.”
You’ll note there’s no mention of gender identity: This statement was a product of its time. Nonetheless, this plank was groundbreaking.
Let’s compare this to the Republican platform — not in 1980, but right now. Last year’s platform (which I believe is recycled from the one four years prior) states: “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society ….” It also says judges are “… wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories.”
So, one party began to recognize the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people 41 years ago, and the other thinks the Complimentary Spouse and I shouldn’t be married, nor do we deserve legal protections against discrimination.
Now, this isn’t to say the relationship between LGBTQ people and the DNC has always been smooth. It was a Democratic President (Clinton) that gave us DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell).
But it was also a Democratic President (Obama) that scrapped DOMA and DADT. And Obama was the first president to endorse marriage equality.
And what have Republican Presidents done for us? Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis while thousands died, and W used marriage equality as a wedge issue to energize anti-LGBTQ voters in 2004.
You’ll find a few examples of Democrats hurting the LGBTQ cause, and Republicans helping it, but you’re smart enough to draw a logical conclusion from the facts. Both parties are not the same. Not from where I’m standing.
Hey, since we’re talking Democrats, let’s look at some photos!
I was still in the closet for these two presidential encounters, which may explain why I only owned one tie at the time.
The battle for marriage equality goes back to 1970. Richard Baker and James McConnell applied for a marriage license in Minnesota. They were denied, so they sued claiming that state law made no mention of gender as it pertained to marriage. The case went as far as the state Supreme Court, but — spoiler alert! — things did not go in our favor.
It took 45 years, until 2015, for same-sex marriage to be realized at the federal level.
Now you’re asking: How did Britt and Dave get married seven years before 2015?
Our marriage was only recognized at the state level in California. For seven years, we were denied all of the federal rights and privileges — more than 1,000 of them — that opposite-sex married couples had. This had a quantifiable financial toll on us, as we had to pay taxes that other married couples did not. We also had to draw up legal papers that others did not require. Even worse, we had no marriage rights in our home state of Florida — under Florida law, we were roommates, not spouses.
Someone once asked me, “What’s up with all those letters in LGBTQ+, and why are they in that order?” The answer is actually quite cool, because it takes you through several decades of gay history. By the 1940s and 1950s, the term “homosexual” (or derivatives of it, like “homophile”) were used to describe all LGBTQ people. In the ’60s and ’70s, gay men and lesbians didn’t always see eye to eye, so you begin to see each group using its own terminology. Add bi people to the mix and you start to see the first acronym in use: either LGB or GLB.
Over time, the equality movement began to incorporate and recognize trans people, so the acronym was expanded to LGBT. Some people used GLBT instead, but most seemed to prefer LGBT. I used GLBT for a while, but it looks weird when you think about it. It would be pronounced “glibbit,” like the rhyme for “ribbit.” 🐸
(Quick editorial comment: It’s shameful the way gay men and lesbians ignored trans people, especially trans POC, at the beginning of the movement. We should have been an LGBT community from Day One. People who have been excluded from society should know better than to exclude their brothers and sisters from the fight.)
While everyone was trying to figure out an acronym, another linguistic change was underway. Starting in the ’80s, radical members of the community began reclaiming the word queer, which was an insult for many years. Queer was controversial at the time — a lot of people, including me, grew up with it as a pejorative term — but it eventually gained acceptance and I’ll even use it once in a while. That’s how LGBT became LGBTQ. (Quick tip: It’s a good idea to ask someone if they identify as queer before you use the word to describe them.)
Today, you’ll see a lot of people appending a plus sign to LGBTQ. That’s because we want to include allies, intersex people, asexual people, questioning people, pansexuals, gender-fluid people, non-binary people, and so on. LGBTQ+ is more manageable than — yes, you will find this term on the internet — LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA. 😳