• Charles Alexander

A Reminder for April 17

By |2021-03-23T10:52:05-04:00March 23rd, 2021|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Stonewall! Stonewall! STONEWALL!
Say it loud. Say it proud. It’s without doubt to our LGBTQ+ conviction and consensus — and that of the so-called heterosexual community — the single most important event leading to our contemporary Gay Liberation Movement.
That historic weekend of revolt in June 1969, in front of the Stonewall Inn, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, shook open closet doors with a vengence and fisticuffs spontaneous:
“We’ve had it with you ‘badass’ straight dudes,” “This is it, you friggin’ cops,” “No more. You bigoted Bible braindeaders!” “Never again!” “We’re ready for a fight, no matter how long it takes!”
Fifty years later, celebrating the Stonewall riots, the June Pride Celebration drew an estimated 150,000 participants and 5 million spectators attending June 2019 events in Greenwich Village and throughout Manhattan.
There’s no question about it that Stonewall is our LGBTQ+ watchword historic happening. How we measure progress since then is another consideration. Judge that for yourself, militant or passive, PG reader.
Yes! Stonewall is of fight-for-life LGBTQ+ importance, but five years before Stonewall, April 17, 1965, another glass-shattering, show-and-tell, in their political faces historic event occurred that few of us in the LGBTQ+ community remember, honor or even know about today:
The first gay/lesbian picketing of the White House. Here’s what brought it all about.
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared homosexuals a threat to national security as “sexual perverts” who were vulnerable to blackmail by Communist spies. He ordered the immediate firing of every gay man and lesbian working for the U.S. government.
Five thousand government workers, including private contractors and “fellow travelers,” were publicly exposed and sent packing. Over the decades following, these numbers climbed to 50,000. View the 2012 film documentary “Lavender Scare” to learn more.
One of those casualties was Frank Kameny — the “grandfather” of the modern gay rights movement and a prominent, Harvard-educated astronomer.
During the Eisenhower witch hunt, he was working for the Army Map Service on classified missile projects in the hopes of being an astronaut when he was fired.
Four years before the Stonewall riots in New York City, Kameny courageously led the first picket of about a dozen brave — very brave, indeed — gays and lesbians at the White House in 1965 to protest these unprecedented government firings.
He also petitioned the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case.
Only in 1995 was that order rescinded by President Bill Clinton, who also instituted the controversial military policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Congress voted to end State Department discrimination in 2011. Kameny died in that same year.
Research and remember April 17, 1965. The memorable day the White House was picketed in support of gay rights — long, long before Trump took office, by the way! It’s just as important as Stonewall. Or, is it? You be the judge once more, ever-thinking PG reader.

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