26 June 2010

Celebrating the Journey - 41 years and counting

In much of the Western World, this is Pride Weekend. There will be scores of parades to celebrate "Gay Pride." I must say that I don't really understand "Gay Pride." I don't understand what "pride" there is in being GLBT or Straight, or Asexual. I don't  see sexuality as being something to be  proud of or ashamed of. It's just who "you" are. However, I do understand the real need to celebrate how far along the journey of equality GLBT brothers and sisters, and society itself, has come.

I was just a kid when on 28 June 1969 the patrons of New York City's Stonewall bar beat the hell out of the NYCPD officers who were sent to harass, abuse, and arrest the patrons. I wonder how many of those patrons are still around to be honored in the parades this weekend?

In the same way the Declaration of Independence wasn't the catalyst or the moment the rebellion began, the "gay rights movement" wasn't born that night in the Stonewall. It was simply the moment gay rights became a household word, as it were.

TTLS salutes those patrons and their courage. And TTLS salutes all those who have and who are working for the equal rights for GLBT people throughout the world.

The media will have all the "right" pictures on the news this weekend - the most outrageous picture the journalists can snap. That sells papers. I chose a much more appropriate and significant photo. It shows a NYCPD officer waving a rainbow flag and because those on the float are "veterans" of that night in 1969. 

To quote that old cigarette commercial, "You've come long way, baby!" so celebrate that journey.

Sadly, not all of our friends from the journey are with us today. Three are foremost in my memory - David, Matthew, and Steven.
  • David Ballinger was the first friend who died because of AIDS in the "early days" of the disease. Twenty years later I've not really recovered from his death. 
  • Matthew Tuss was a singing buddy and died just three days before our Christmas Concert. He was just 20-years old. He could find humor in any situation. When he began to get weaker, I would pick him up for rehearsals and we would laugh all way there and back.
  • Steven Housel was also a musician friend - a tenor with a wonderful voice and a wicked sense of humor but unbelievably kind to everyone.
Take a moment in your celebrations this weekend to remember. And to envision the day when "Pride" festivals are something our descendants read about in the history books and wonder why there was a need for such events. That day is coming, brother and sisters.

As this is basically a religious blog, I have to include something religious I've chosen the last line of "I Walk the King's Highway" to celebrate and to remember all those who've worked for equality.

The countless hosts lead on before,
I must not fear nor stray;
with them, the pilgrims of the faith,
I walk the King's highway.
Through light and dark the road leads on
till dawns the endless day,
when I shall know why in this life
I walk the King's highway.