Sunday, 28 June 2009

Remembering Stonewall: 40 Years On

Ladies and Gentlemen, We have arrived...

Being a young, senseless naïve little thing, I know knothing of cultural history. I'm a fabulous little gay boy who spends his days reading Perez Hilton, and worrying about why people think cerise is a good idea. I also make sure I look hot by keeping up to date with the latest trends in fashion...

Well, that isn't me, but it is several young gay men and boys who wouldn't be lucky enough to enjoy such a lifestyle if it weren't for a group of people who stood up and said "No more!" In the decade of sruggling to achieve rights for all sorts of minority groups, a bunch of LGBT men and women reacted against an unfair raid on one of the bars in which LGBT people felt safe. The result was the Gay Rights Movement in the USA.

Now, it may have escaped some of my dear readers that I am not actually a US citizen. I've never even been to the States. However, as we all know, what happens over there reverberates over anywhere else. Interestingly, though, LGBT people in the UK have a leg up on our American cousins, when it comes to this issue. For, you see, homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK in 1967, two years before the Stonewall riots. Nevertheless, had it not been for the political, sexual, and cultural re-evaluation which occurred during the sixties we may not have had as many freedoms we enjoy today. Where would our bars, clubs, hook-up websites, intellectual forums, and blog debates about cock size be without those pioneers of our rights back then?

My housemate is also gay, by chance, and he still argues that politics means nothing to him, and therefore it doesn't affect his daily life. He's 30, and really should know better. Next week is Pride Week in Madrid and the rest of Spain, and something more of a political issue, despite all the seemingly hedonistic street parties and wild club nights. Open homosexuality is relatively new to Spain, since a certain General Franco only stopped being dictator thirty-four years ago; and the new democratic constitution, decriminalising homosexuality, only being thirty-one years old. This blend of old and new has been nothing but a benefit for Spanish LGBT people, since the country was keen to modernise itself, and a large majority of Spaniards are accepting or even proud of their country's leniency towards homosexuality, regardless of their own sexual orientation; same-sex marriage has been legal in the country since 2005, almost two years before civil partnerships were introduced in the UK. My housemate is actually from Argentina, but it really doesn't matter. If he were from the moon, he's only able to live his lifestyle openly and freely here in Spain because people who were unable to do so became fed up, politicised and fought.

I'm hardly a loud and proud activist, but I am more than grateful to the Stonewall rioters and other poineers of LGBT rights all over the world for their courage, their enthusiasm for a better life, and their activism, in order that I might enjoy my life wherever I please.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.

Elsewhere: New York Marks 40th Anniversary of Stonewall Riots,

If you are LGBT, you may not want to fly it out of your window, but fly it in your heart and mind, and never forget its significance to you and the rest of us

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