If You Aren’t Outraged, You Aren’t Paying Attention
“If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention,” as the saying goes. 43 years ago (last Thursday, to be exact), the Stonewall riots happened in Greenwich Village in the east side of New York. The other night I was watching “Stonewall Uprising” on American Experience on PBS. While it’s worth watching, especially since that’s a part of history that isn’t being taught, it’s also worth watching to understand why Pride and the LGBTQ movement exists, and needs to exist.
In 1969, homosexual acts were illegal. Meaning, if the cops were called to your residence, and you were engaging in consensual sex with a person of the same sex, you both could (and would be) arrested. Don’t believe me? Check out Lawrence vs. Texas, decided by the Supreme Court in 2003.
The overwhelming opinion was that LGBTQ people were deviants, incapable of love and pedophiles. Given the chance, they’d prey on your children. People would point to the fact that they met in seedy and bad neighborhoods. (Although as explained on “Stonewall Uprising,” that’s the only place they could meet.) Good thing things have changed…oh wait…
Let’s unpack this a bit. The other week, the cops and fire banged on our door, because they got the wrong house. If, for the sake of argument, my fiance and I were engaged in something more than snoring soundly, we’d probably get a mumbled apology and a hurried retreat. A same-sex couple might not be so lucky, even in 2012. There are communities where that would’ve gotten them beaten or killed.
I can walk outside and hold my fiance’s hand, and it’s a reasonable assumption that neither of us will be harassed (at best) for it. If I, as a cisgendered heterosexual woman, were suddenly single and wanting to meet someone to date, hook up with, or otherwise flirt with, odds are good I can walk into any bar without an issue. If I were a lesbian or a transgendered woman, I wouldn’t be able to just saddle up to another woman and flirt in any bar or club. (Or wherever people meet people these days.)
Should something happen to me or my fiance, our families can’t have the survivor excluded from the hospital and (God forbid) funeral, because we live in a state that doesn’t recognize our marriage. If we want to adopt children, we can easily find adoption agencies, who’ll adopt to us.
As for the idea that LGBTQ people are out to hurt, rape and corrupt heterosexual people? It’s still there. Note to Brenda McFeeters: if you’re a transgendered woman, you’re more likely to be killed by bigots before the age of 25 than a cisgendered woman is going to be molested by a transgendered person in a bathroom.
While, yes, LGBTQ rights have come a long way since 1969, one can argue they haven’t gone far enough, especially when rainbow-stuffed Oreos and J. C. Penney’s catalog pictures invoke ire. I would argue in the days when people would love nothing better than LGBTQ people to go back into the shadows, we need more outrage, not less.