Tag Archive | pride

Happy Freedom Day!

A bi guy and a gay guy – it’s cartoony versions of my husband and me!
New York, USA – June 24, 2012: Men dance while riding a float in the New York City Gay Pride Parade 2012. Thousands came out in support.

Saturday Five (community, truth, strength, love edition)


It’s Pride Weekend! This Sunday is the 52nd Anniversary of that fateful night in Greenwich Village. Time to celebrate!

I’m on vacation to both attend the virtual Locus Awards Weekend and celebrate virtual Pride. I worked Monday through Wednesday, and as usually happens when I’m going to take some time off, they were extremely busy days. So I was exhausted, and have been sleeping in a lot. Add to that the heat wave that was been roasting most of the country finally hitting us, and well, I’ve been having trouble being productive. Which is why this post is a day late and will be a bit different than usual.

So here is this week’s day late Friday Five: one headline I felt needed it’s own topic, the top five stories about Pride, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about queer milestones, and five stories about everything else (plus some things I wrote plus a notable obituaries).

This Week in It’s About Time:

‘Sesame Street’ features 2 gay fathers for 1st time in 51-year history – "Love is love, and we are so happy to add this special family to our Sesame family."

This Week in Pride:

The Untold Truth Of The Stonewall Riots I’m not sure "untold" really belongs in the headline. I’ve linked to similar stories that do their best to sort out the myth from the verifiable regarding the riots over the years, but still a good story.

Military tells off trolls complaining about Air Force Pride event starring ‘Drag Race’ queens – Critics said the show was proof that the U.S. military will soon be dominated by Russia, China and North Korea

Biden declares “Pride is back at the White House” after designating Pulse a national monument – Biden signed historic legislation as he was surrounded by the victims’ families and other modern-day trailblazers. He then spoke about his administration’s pro-LGBTQ record and his son Beau’s desire to advocate for LGBTQ people

British, Canadian and US embassies fly Pride flag in Russia, where ‘gay propaganda’ is illegal

This is America: ‘If your Pride isn’t intersectional, it’s not Pride’

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Louisiana Governor Vetoes Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Study: Most LGBTQ+ Adults Have Faced Threats of Violence

Stonewall Inn Says No to Anheuser-Busch After GOP Donations

A principal tries cutting off a student’s graduation speech. He finished it anyway – School administrators also allegedly tried to get the graduate to remove his Pride flag. He refused

America’s Got Talent auditions “the world’s gayest boy band”

This Week in Milestones:

Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters hits a milestone! 7,500,00 hits and counting! But what comes next?

Gay WW2 Hero Alan Turing Memorialized on New British £50 Note; ‘A Celebration of His Remarkable Life’

Carl Nassib’s Coming-Out Is a Gay NFL Fan’s Wish Come True

International soccer star Kumi Yokoyuma comes out as transgender – One of Japan’s most recognized soccer players didn’t feel safe to come out until they were in America: “I had to explain to them what Japanese culture is like and why I felt the need to hide.”

Valley athlete to be first female LGBTQ wrestler in Olympic history

Other Stuff This Week:

Chauvin sentenced to 22½ years for the murder of George Floyd – Chauvin briefly spoke before sentence was handed down and expressed his condolences to the George Floyd family

Scientists hail stunning ‘Dragon Man’ discovery

WA State health officer Dr. Scott Lindquist is "raising the flag" about the gamma variant, which is causing "more breakthrough cases proportionately, and hospitalizations"

Justice Alito’s Massive Concurrence in Favor of Expanded Religious Freedom May Have Scared Off Two Conservative Justices

Police search for clues after body of missing local artist was found in popular Seattle park

In Memoriam:

Joanne Linville Dead: ‘Star Trek’ Romulan Commander Was 93

Things I Wrote:

Loki is Set on the Trail of ‘The Variant’

The Vaccine is Free – Let people know!

Why Coming Out and Being Out Matters, or, Homophobes react to Carl Nassib’s coming out

Why Coming Out and Being Out Matters, or, Homophobes react to Carl Nassib’s coming out

Las Vegas Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nassib, becomes the first queer NFL
play to come out while he is still active in the league.

Carl Nassib—former All-America football player for Penn State, who has since played in the NFL on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cleveland Browns, and currently the Las Vegas Raiders—came out as gay earlier this week in a video in which he also announced he had made a large donation to the Trevor Project, and explained why people ought to also donate to the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide among LGBTQ youth.

Members of his own team and leaders within the National Football League management immediately chimed in with messages of support and congratulations. The internet erupted with other people reacting with encouragement—given that other gay NFL players have never felt it was safe to come out, and the only gay player who was out before he was drafted was not met with anything that could be described as a welcoming attitude from the league just seven years ago.

So it was a bit of a surprise that the league seemed to be reacting supportively.

Not everyone reacted quite so well: While NFL player Carl Nassib comes out, homophobes go overboard pretending that they don’t care.

All of those homophobes have been screaming that they don’t care, and then making the angry bad attempts at sexual insults. Coincidentally, on one of my other blogs, another homophobe sent me some angry messages in response to my posting of several Pride Month images. The phrase, “No one f—ing cares!” was repeated several times in those messages, too.

First, anyone who angrily yells or posts a comment asserting that “No one cares” when a queer person expresses anything about their lives, has just admitted that they care entirely way too much. They have also admitted that they are hateful bigots who lose their temper any time they are reminded that not everyone is straight.

Nassib responded to the people those (disingenuous) questions asking why he has to make an announcement. “Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”

One of the first studies to show that was published by the George H.W. Bush administration. Bush tasked the National Institutes of Health with determining how to reduce teen suicide, and the conclusion was that the most teen suicides would be if parents were encouraged to tell their children that they would still love and accept them if they were gay.

This is one of the reasons I say every year around National Coming Out Day and during Pride Month that queer adults should be out. It makes your life better not to constantly hiding a secret and fearing discovering, but it also makes it more likely that younger queer people will live—period.

So, I’m happy for Nassib. Even if it does mean that I have to reinstate the search on my DVR to record Raiders games, again.

Las Vegas Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nassib, patiently explaining why it’s important for queer adults to come out.
Archive photo: Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

On the last day of Pride Month: Police Brutality and Religious Bigots

“The Supreme Court ruled that police have no duty to protect or serve. This guns are not for your protection.”

Several federal cases (including to the Supreme Court) have reached the same conclusion, the police have no obligation to protect the public, nor can they be sued for failing to do so (Warren v. District of Columbia, Lynch v. NC Dept. of Justice, Riss v. New York)

Aggressive NYPD Officers Rough Up, Pepper Spray Peaceful ‘Queer Liberation March’ Participants.

Of course they did. Because that’s what they do. They inflict violence on people they perceive have no power, and that they believe will lose any we said/cop said scenario. They almost always escalate. It’s a version of the old “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Police academy training primes them to assume that everyone not wearing a badge is just someone waiting for an excuse to attack them, and they only tools they believe they can rely on are violence and the complicity of their fellow officers.

The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It.

Sticker on the base of a light pole reads, “Stonewall wasn't about Marriage Equality, it was about police violence.”

The Stonewall Riots, usually cited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, was a reaction to police brutality and harassment.

Which is why we’re protesting and making various demands. Congress critters claim they have heard us and are ready to get serious on reform. One of the problems is that one of the only tools Congress has is money. Which means that any reform bill they come up with is going to result in more money going to police departments, not less.

If they were serious at reform they would look at those federal cases, we see that in the eyes of the law, cops are just crime accountants, not crime fighters. Their only obligations are to observe and record the aftermath of crimes, not prevent crimes, and not even to arrest criminals if they don’t want to.

So what we need is a Law Enforcement Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed various kinds of discrimination under an argument that while the Constitution guarantees basic civil rights, it doesn’t always spell out what those rights are. Though the Tenth Amendment does say that powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution belong to the States and to the People. And the Fourteenth Amendment says that no person can be deprived of the equal protection of the law and that citizens can’t have their rights abridged has often been interpreted as affirming that people are entitled to rights not spelled out elsewhere. That was most of the legal justification of the Civil Rights Act: at attempt by Congress to define what some of those unspecified rights are, and to provide a framework for the enforcement of both enumerated and unspecified rights.

The Law Enforcement Act could extend that framework, though the points I suggest such an Act must have can be read right out of one ennumerated right from the First Amendment, and one part of the Fourteenth.

Lots of people claim all sorts of things are protected by the First Amendment, and I don’t want to get into that debate. For this purpose, I’m going to stick to the text. One of the rights specifically mentioned in the First Amendment that most people forget about is the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” My proposed Law Enforcement Act would define the following things as part of that right to petition the Government:

  • The right to sue individual police, police departments, and local and state governments which fund those police departments for failure to protect ordinary residents, or for police misconduct that harms a person or deprives them of property, or for wrongful death. In other words, repeal limited immunity.
  • The right to require public hearings for police misconduct allegations, and a right for ordinary residents who make such allegations to appeal any findings of the misconduct hearings to a civil authority outside the police department.
  • The right to demand judicial review of clauses of police union contracts which in any way impede those aforementioned rights
  • the right to have any property seized through asset forfeiture returned (and in the case of cash, with interest) unless there is a conviction by a jury of a crime related to said assets. (I would prefer that asset forfeiture be outlawed completely, but I know that’s not going to happen.)

Next, turning to the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the rights that it forbids States from infringing is “the equal protection of the laws.” And so the act should spell out the equal protection includes:

  • An obligation of the police to protect all persons within their jurisdiction.
  • Any State the fails to enact laws that protect the rights listed in the Act shall be denied all federal monies for any current or future program to support law enforcement.

There are a lot of others things that Act ought to have, but if we can just get the right to sue the police and government over misconduct and failure to protect citizens, the stick of all those lawsuits is going to force police reform.

Let’s change topics

“So you oppose gay rights because of the Bible? Unless you also try to outlaw: Shrimp cocktail (Lev 11:9), Cursing (Lev 24:16), Women's jeans (Deut 22:5), Lying (Prov 12:22), Bacon (Lev 11:7), Adultery (Deut 22:23), Working on Sunday (Num 15:32) Please shut the hell up!”

Yes, please! (Click to embiggen)

Since the surprisingly pro-LGBTQ pro-trans Supreme Court ruling about employment discrimination, I have heard and read a lot of queer folks incorrectly saying that the Court found employment discrimination about queer folks unconstitutional. No. The ruling was not about constitutionality. It was a statutory interpretation ruling. It was a logical recognition that discrimination against LGBTQ people is a form of sex discrimination. The ruling could probably be undone by the simple passage of a law of Congress that “clarifies” the meaning of sex discrimination in the earlier law.

Now, as long as the Democrats control at least one house of Congress, that isn’t likely to happen. And, heck, if you noticed how few Republican Senators put out a spirited criticism of the ruling, reflects the reality that a large majority of voters support the ruling, so support for such a bill is likely soft on the Republican side.

However, religious freedom is explicitly protected in the Constitution, so we shouldn’t be surprised if, before the Court adjourns for the summer, one of those so-called Religious Freedom cases doesn’t walk much of that ruling back (Like Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru which was just argued last month). And whether it does or not, we can expect a lot more attempts to invalidate our lives in the name of religion.

Anti-LGBTQ industry will speed up usage of religious beliefs as a discrimination weapon after SCOTUS loss.

Indianapolis Catholic Schools’ New Policy Forces Gender Conformity on Trans Kids.

Confessions of a rainbow wearing queer geek in quarantine

Queer Geek

Yep, that’s me!

If this has been a normal year, for this weekend my husband and I would have checked into the hotel where the Locus Awards Weekend is happening on Friday. We would attend the reading and evening events there, then the panels on Saturday morning and the book signing, then the awards banquet…. When on Sunday morning we wouldcheck out, confirm with the hotel we can leave the car in the parking garage until 4pm, and walk two blocks to watch part of the Seattle Pride Parade, then walk a couple more blocks to see the Pride Festival, buy t-shirts or other things that catch our eye, before heading 8 miles north to our home.

Last year the festival put all the booths that were gaming stores, comics shops, and two publishers that specialize in queer comics and such inside one of the air conditioned buildings. It was almost as if there were a mini queer sci fi convention going on within the Pride festival!

When I was much younger, 4pm wouldn’t have been late enough to have free parking on Pride Day, but my knees aren’t what the used to be. Plus, I’ve always had problems when being out in the sun too long, so the 4pm deadline has been fine the last few years.

The in-person version of Locus Awards Weekend, as well as the majority of Pride events everywhere, being canceled due to the pandemic, that didn’t happen this year. I did sign up for the virtual Locus Weekend this time. There were more readings, but they were streamed recordings, so there wasn’t any audience reaction, which I found I missed a lot more than I thought. The panels were as fun as ever, even it was a little weird not to hear and feel the crowd of other fans around you during the con. On the other hand, because the panels were live streamed on Zoom, we did have a text chat to do some interacting with other audience members.

If we wanted to participate in the traditional Donut Salon, we had to provide our own donuts. And there wasn’t a banquet for the awards, obviously. Connie Willis, the MC, was wonderful, as always. There weren’t any acceptance speeches (which would have been very difficult to arrange virtually, I understand). I thought all of the winners were good choices, though in every category there were a bunch of other entries which I would have been just as pleased had they won instead. To see the winners: 2020 Locus Awards Winners.

I was particularly pleased that “This is How You Lose a Time War” won Best Novella, because at this point it is also at number one on my Hugo ballot in that category. I was also extremely happy that Nisi Shawl’s anthology, Different Suns: won Best Anthology.

I’m not the most extroverted person in the world, but I did miss chatting with people that I regularly see at this event, an seeing faces both familiar and new.

One of the things I love about the Locus Awards is that they have several different Novel categories. So three of the books that are on the short list for Best Novel Hugo walked away with Locus Awards this weekend.

Virtual Con was fun. It was certainly better than moping at home sad that I had missed it. And there are some things that we better, IMHO, with the virtual venue:

  • I didn’t have to contend with not always being able to get a seat close enough nor on the side of my fully functional ear in order to hear as well as clearly see faces and facial expressions of the panelists or readers
  • I sincerely doubt that Karen Lord has ever unsheathed that fancy sword in the middle of a panel before
  • CLOSED CAPTIONING – now, I’m pretty sure it was on-the-fly AI closed captioning, so much less accurate that others, but still, YES PLEASE
  • I enjoyed the adorable two-year-old twins and the puppy that all escaped Djèlí Clark’s spouse and briefly joined us in one of the panels
  • You can join the text chat without feeling like you’re disturbing others listening to the panels.
  • No con crud (which is the whole reason we’re virtual now, but y’know, even when there isn’t a deadly pandemic, con crud is no fun!)
  • People who can’t travel to the con (whether because they can’t afford it, or health issues, or other issues) can participate in the events.

There are also disadvantages, of course:

  • Spontaneous hall/bar/room party conversations don’t work in the virtual tools that facilitate the panels and readings and such
  • No dealer’s den (which at Locus Weekend is ALL BOOKS, NOTHING BUT BOOKS, the biggest vendor is University Book Store bringing books by authors nominated for the awards [not just the books/collections nominated—also other stuff they have in stock by said authors]), and while I don’t always buy stuff at the den, it’s fun to browse.
  • While we’re on the subject of books: normally there are piles and piles of books on every table at the banquet and the organizers urge you to take these free books home. I missed coming home with a huge pile of books.
  • You don’t get that amplification of enthusiasm/joy/amusement that happens when other people in the audience laugh, or applaud, or otherwise signal they also agreeing with/laughing at/et cetera something a panelist or audience member said

It was a decent substitute for the in-person event. And I hope that now that we’re doing this for some conventions (WorldCon is going to be all virtual this year, as well), I hope that conventions find ways to make more content available to stream like this for at least supporting members going forward.

An alternate outfit. Though given my sun burn issues, if I had worn a cap like this without the rainbow parasol I would have really regretted it!

The rest of the weekend I spent sampling various streamed Pride events, or watching some queer movies that have been in my to-watch list on various streaming platforms for a while. I also took some time to take some selfies (and play some more with the tripod and related things which I have acquired with the eventual intention to make some more videos to post) so I could have a suitable new rainbow picture to put on yesterday’s post.

I missed the in-person aspects of the convention. And I missed not seeing the fabulousness of the Pride Parade, and hanging out at the festival.

But it’s better than getting sick!

It’s Pride Day, 2020 — Happy Pride!

Love is love!

Love is love!

This has been a weird week (heck, it’s been a surreal year!). But today is Pride Day. A day when ordinarily I and my husband would be walking from the hotel where we had been attending Locus Awards Weekend the previous two days, and we’d watch the Pride Parade, then walk to the Pride Festival. But this year everything (including sci fi conventions) has moved on line, so that we can avoid gathering in large groups and causing more spikes of the pandemic.

But it is still Pride Day, even if we’re all social distancing and meeting virtually. It’s a day to commemorate the time that a bunch of queers got fed up with police brutality and decided to fight back.

Two signs being held up in a crowd, each depicts Marsha P. Johnson, sports the Trans Pride Flag colors, and the phrase: “There would be no pride without black trans lives!”

There would be no pride without black trans lives!

It was the night that Marsha P. Johnson hurled a shot glass at a cop when they began their usual routine of lining up everyone in the gay bar, then singling out all the trans and gender-non-conforming people to arrest. Marsha wasn’t the only trans person of color to fight back that night, and she wasn’t the only one to keep fighting for queer rights, helping to found several of the organizations who took the fight to both the streets and the halls of government. When you hoist that rainbow flag, remember to thank those trans women of color who started it all.

Pride Day Links:

Corporations disappointed they won’t be able to commodify queer culture this year .

Every year Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God.com reposted the complete text of the very condescending story that the New York Daily News ran shortly after the original Stonewall uprising. I think it’s good to remember how people saw (and many still do) our community and concerns: LGBTQ History: “The Foot Wore A Spiked Heel”.

Gill Foundation Pledges $250K To Protect Stonewall Inn.

LGBTQ people have been marching every June for 50 years.

Marsha P Johnson’s home town petitions to erect statue of her to replace Christopher Columbus.

Happy Pride Month!

President Barack Obama Celebrates LGBTQ+ Equality (Clip) | Logo TV:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Black Trans Lives Matter | Full Frontal on TBS:

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The Kinsey Sicks: The Sound of Sirens (Simon & Garfunkel Parody):

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Show Me Your Pride – By Miss Coco Peru – OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO:

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This Is Me | Boston Gay Men’s Chorus:

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If I had gone marching, this would have probably been my ensemble. Happy Pride!

Friday Five (love is beautiful edition)

Black Lives Matter. Black LGBTQ Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

We have reached the final Friday in June, aka Pride Month.

Since this is Pride Weekend, I decided that this week’s Friday Five is going to skip certain topics. Also, I’ve got a four-day weekend which I will be spending attending Locus Awards Weekend and Pride virtually. Should be interesting!

Meanwhile, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories about homophobes and other haters, five stories about the blue & rainbow wave, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Hundreds of rainbow flags are flying in a small town thanks to a 13-year-old.

Aimee Stephens won at SCOTUS but fight for trans rights isn’t over.

90-year-old comes out because he can’t forget the man he fell in love with 70 years ago.

Supreme Court: LGBT discrimination ruling supported by 9 in 10 adults – Almost every single American agrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling banning workplace discrimination for LGBT+ people.

After a man ripped down a small town’s Pride flag, the residents took to the streets – The town only has 25,000 people, but they poured into the streets to send the message that “Watertown won’t stand for this.”.

This Week in Homophobes and Haters:

5 examples that prove the NRA hates LGBTQ people as much as gun control – If you think the NRA and its leaders confine themselves to Second Amendment issues, you’re wrong.

One of the nation’s largest conversion therapy networks is disbanding – Hope for Wholeness, an “ex-gay” ministry with a presence in at least 15 states, advocated “freedom from homosexuality through Jesus Christ.”.

AG Becerra adds Idaho to restricted state travel list after anti-trans laws.

Christian pundits say homosexuality is a bigger sin than slavery, so Black people should get over it. Um, what?

Jeffrey Dahmer Fan Accused of Mutilating, Torturing Gay Teen, But Police Say It Wasn’t a Hate Crime.

This Week in the Blue & Rainbow Wave:

Gay congressional candidate Ritchie Torres destroyed the most anti-LGBTQ politician in New York – In what is considered the most Democratic district in the nation, a primary victory is pretty much a direct road to Washington D.C..

Jamaal Bowman declares victory over Rep. Eliot Engel in NY primary upset; mail-in ballots still uncounted.

Victory Fund Endorses 27 More LGBTQ Candidates for 2020; LGBTQ People Running in Key State Legislative Races.

Florida Democrats gain vote-by-mail advantage.

Trump Lawyer: If You Hate LGBTQ Rights, Vote Trump.

In Memoriam:

Gay former SF supervisor Harry Britt, who succeeded Harvey Milk, dies at 82.

Joel Schumacher: Reluctant and Conflicted Gay Trailblazer.

Ian Holm Dies: ‘Lord Of The Rings’ & ‘Alien’ Star Was 88.

Ian Holm, Shakespearean Actor Who Played Bilbo Baggins, Dies at 88.

Peter Jackson Recounts Working With Ian Holm on Final Film Performance.

Things I wrote:

The Symbols of Pride Have Always Been Fluid.

Remember: the First Pride was a Riot Against Police Brutality.

The law is often a tool of oppression, or, more lessons from 50 years of Pride.

Still a joyful, radical fairy—and still proud of all my fellow survivors.

Videos!

Ahead of the Curve Trailer (HD):

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Billy Porter & Pose cast perform “Love Yourself” for Pose-A-Thon special – LGBTQ Gay Pride Month:

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Fab The Duo – Our Love Is Resistance (OFFICIAL Music Video):

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Born This Way | Virtual Boston Gay Men’s Chorus:

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Panic! At The Disco – Bohemian Rhapsody (Live) [from the Death Of A Bachelor Tour]:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Still a joyful, radical fairy—and still proud of all my fellow survivors

“STONEWALL MEANS REVOLTING QUEENS…AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT,” Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade, Boston, Massachusetts, June 1984. Photo c/o Men of All Colors Together collection, via @northeastern.

Revolt!

I had several ideas for today’s post, but the craziness of fitting a week’s worth of work into four days so I could take Friday off got in the way.

So I decided maybe I should just repost this, originally posted on 21 June, 2018.

Pride means love and survival—confessions of a joyful fairy

“Queer as hell and felling swell”

(click to embiggen)

I’ve been to a lot of Pride parades and festivals since attending my first in 1990. One year I participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade one weekend, flew back home to Seattle where I marched in our parade the following week, and then in August I found myself in Vancouver, British Columbia where I hadn’t realized it was going to be their Pride Parade. San Francisco’s was like so gigantically larger and brasher than any other I had ever seen, while Vancouver’s was small but very enthusiastic.

“Pride equals power”The reason for the parade, ultimately, is to declare our existence–our survival in a society that is less than welcoming. We’re here. We’re your daughters, your neighbors, your sons, your co-workers, your friends, your siblings, or your parents. We’re not mysterious creatures lurking in seedy clubs–we’re the guy sitting across from you on the bus reading a book, or the two gals sitting in that next pew at church, or the pair of guys in the grocery store discussing how many hot dogs to buy for the cookout, or the grey-haired guy trying to read a label on a bottle of cold tablets in the pharmacy, or that kid on the skateboard going past your bus stop, or that guy sipping a coffee at Starbucks, or that gal a couple table over at the same coffee shop laughing at something on her computer.

We’re real, we’re everywhere, and we have hopes and dreams and worries just like you. We’re not asking for special rights, we’re asking for the same rights you take for granted. We’re asking to live our lives as openly as you live yours.

I enjoy watching the parade to acknowledge that survival. I cheer while watching the parade to express my admiration, support, and love for all of these survivors.

I cheer for people who are being brave and marching in their first parade; we see you and welcome you to the tribe.

I cheer and applaud so that those whose families rejected them and told them never to come back will know they have another family, and we’re clapping for them right now.

I cheer so that group of teen-agers (half of them straight and there to support their bi, gay, lesbian, and trans friends) will get the recognition they deserve.

“Why do some people feel more comfortable seeing two men holding hands than holding guns?”I cheer so the couple in their matching sequined costumes will know someone appreciates the work they spent (perhaps being up all night gluing those sequins on).

I cheer the older couples walking together holding hands; we see your love and we celebrate how long you and your love had endured.

I cheer the younger couples walking hand in hand; I wish I had felt free to do that at their age, but I hope they have a bright future.

(click to embiggen)

I applaud and cheer so that the trans* gals and trans* men know they are seen for who they are and we think they’re beautiful, wonderful, and I am proud to call them brothers and sisters.

I cry when I see those who are carrying a photo or wearing the name of a deceased loved one; we see your loved one and share your grief.

I cheer for PFLAG so that straight parents who have spent countless hours explaining to friends and relatives that their queer kids have nothing to be ashamed of, and yes they are very happy, and no those things you’ve heard or read about their health and lifespan are all myths will know their efforts are appreciated by the whole community.

I clap and cheer and laugh and cry as the parade goes on and on showing how big and wonderful and diverse and amazing our community is.

(click to embiggen)

The very first Liberation Day Parade in New York City, was a protest march on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (the first Pride was a riot). People were afraid of what would happen at the first march. Only a couple dozen people showed up at the starting point, with their protest signs. But they marched. And all along the announced route of the march, the sidewalks were lined with people. Street queens, and trans people, and gay men and lesbians and queers of many other stripes.

(click to embiggen)

And then completely unplanned thing happened. As the small group of marchers went by, queer people and supporters started stepping off the curb and joining. By the time the marchers reached the Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, the crowd numbered in the thousands.

It has been a tradition of Pride Parades ever since, that spectators step off the curb and join the march.

So when I march, there comes a point where I do that. I have cheered and applauded and made sure that others were seen. I have witnessed their love and courage and unique style. Until it is my turn to join the march. To be visible. To declare by my presence in that throng that I am queer. I’m here. And I will never go back into the closet.
Me with my rainbow parasol

The law is often a tool of oppression, or, more lessons from 50 years of Pride

Protesting police harassment and brutality have been at the core of the LGBTQ rights movement for at least 60 years.

Laws have frequently been used to target minorities and marginalized people who are not doing what most people would think of as criminal activity. When writing about the origins of Pride Month, I often mention that before the early-to-mid-seventies it was illegal for a woman to wear pants in public. This seems crazy to most people now, and it sometimes came as a shock to people back then, but there it was.

Other laws sound more reasonable until you understand how they were actually applied. For example, in 1968 the Nixon campaign committee came up with the idea of the War on Drugs as a way to target two groups which opposed all of Nixon’s priorities: black people and those opposed to the Vietnam War. Many years after the fact, Nixon domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, explained it:

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Long before that loitering laws were used to harass anyone that the powers that be found undesirable. Loitering was usually defined as “a person simply being in a public place for no apparent reason.” In 1972 the Supreme Court ruled that loitering ordinances and vagrancy ordinances were unconstitutional for two reason: they were so vague that a common citizens couldn’t be sure what behavior constituted the crime, and police were able to arbitrarily enforce it on people who were poor, members of minorities, and so forth.

Historically, the laws were almost always used to target minorities.

The Supreme Court ruling led many jurisdictions to replace the ordinances with so-called “loitering plus” laws. These were ordinances supposedly didn’t make simply being in a public place a crime, but rather being in public for various nefarious purposes. And one of the most popular in the late 80s and 90s were so-called “drug loitering” laws. These laws allowed police to demand ID and to perform personal searches on anyone who was in public and behaving in a way that made the cop suspect that maybe they might possibly be trying to buy or sell illegal drugs. Common activities that could get you arrested under these laws were such horrible criminal acts as: looking at the cars driving by on the roadway, waving at someone, appearing to be trying to make contact with other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

And the sad thing is that even though people tried to appeal these laws to the Supreme Court, it hasn’t accepted such a case for review in decades.

The City of Seattle passed one of these laws back in the 90s. I donated money to a campaign that tried to appeal the low through the courts. When that didn’t get anywhere, I donated money and even volunteered to phone back for a campaign that tried to get an initiative on the ballot to repeal the law. We didn’t succeed.

Year after year people brought forward evidence that both the drug loitering ordinance and the prostitution loitering ordinance were disproportionately used to target black people and gender-non-conforming people, the laws stayed on the books. A few years ago a new city attorney was elected he ceased prosecutions on the two laws precisely for those reasons, but it didn’t really solve the problem, because the next city attorney could just start filing the charges again, and cops would know they could start harassing people in the name of those laws again.

Finally, the laws have been repealed: Seattle City Council Repeals Loitering Laws – The council has voted to repeal two loitering ordinances, which they say had racist origins and disproportionately targeted minorities.

This is a direct result of the Black Lives Matter protests still going on in the city. So we’ve made a teensy bit of progress!

There are many other problems to address. The biggest problem is that virtually all politicians and most common people believe that myth that police forces protect the public from crime. Statistically, they don’t. Of the most common categories of property crime (burglary, larceny, auto theft), only between 13% to 22% of those reported result in an arrest. And those percentages have been so low, that by best estimates, less than 29% of burglaries and larceny are even reported—that means fewer than 4% of such crimes are ever solved!. Heck, fewer the 70% of car thefts are reported to police!

Only abut 38% of rape cases reported to police are cleared (and a laughably even tinier percentage result in any conviction). And since only 25%-40% of sexual assaults are even reported to the police, again we’re looking at fewer than 10% leading to an arrest. Only about 60% of murders are ever solved.

Meanwhile, through abuse of asset forfeiture laws, law enforcement agencies steal far more from the people in their communities that all the burglaries and other robbery categories combined!

There are many reasons for this. One is that in most police departments across the country, the units tasks with investigating robberies and sexual assaults get the lowest budgets, and for various reasons even then, they are the departments most likely to be understaffed (as in, fewer officers actually working in those divisions than is budgeted for).

And then there are the cultural issues. K.L. Williams is a former police chief who now runs the Institute of Justice and Accountability, trying to reform police training (among other things). He sums up the police culture problem this way: about 15% of officers will do the right thing no matter what. And approximately 15% percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70% could go either way depending on whom they are working with.

At first glance that might not seem too bad—only 15% of cops are abusing their authority, right? But with 70% willing to look the other way and even cover up for the bad cops, that means that it’s 85% of cops who are bad, nut merely 15%. And surveys of cops have shown that a clear majority of cops admit that most of the colleagues routinely look the other way and often help cover up misconduct by other cops.

Which leads us to: Why police often single out trans people for violence – The deaths of Layleen Polanco and Tony McDade highlight how Black trans Americans are treated and criminalized.

It’s just just that systemic racism, homophobia, and misogyny leads policing to victimize, rather than protect, minorities and marginalized people—those things combined with police attitudes about the public in general and anyone they perceive as being worth even less than the public means that queer (especially gender-non-conforming) and trans people have been oppressed, harassed, and abused by police forever. And as the article above explains, race, perceived ethnicity (not always the same thing), and perceived immigration status simply amplify that.

Which brings us full circle back to the trans women of color who threw the first bunches, the first bricks, the first shot glasses, that started the Stonewall Riots.

Why do cops notice anyone who doesn’t conform?

It’s not the genderqueer who routinely pervert the course of justice…

Sticker on the base of a light pole reads, “Stonewall wasn't about Marriage Equality, it was about police violence.”

The Stonewall Riots, usually cited as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, was a reaction to police brutality and harassment.

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