Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
I’ve written a bit about June 2012 and Pride earlier (see here ), but wanted to take another quick look, via a couple of articles I’ve recently read.
This isn’t just a Queerdom thing, of course, for at least two reasons. One, equality – and Pride both marks progress and points to work to be done – is an “issue” which includes us all – race, gender, orientation, immigration status, “class” (and we know we are divided by “class,” whether we want to admit it or not), etc., shouldn’t be a factor in determining how “rights” are determined. And two, LGBT advocates at every level, from local to national, have and need the support of straight allies.
The progress toward LGBT equality is measured in lots of ways, some more “different” than others. From Michael Gormley:
One by one, courts around the country are deciding it’s no longer slander to falsely call someone gay — a measure of how attitudes are changing in the era of same-sex marriage and gays in uniform.
I’m not sure how this relates to efforts to insult someone who is actually gay, by calling them gay. I remember one time when I had that experience: an LGBT group was volunteering to answer fundraising phone calls at the local public television station, and I took a call from a guy who began by saying, “So, you’re a lezzie?” To which I responded, “Yes.” Which seemed to thoroughly confuse the guy, who clearly anticipated denial, embarrassment, apologies or something by which he could measure a “score.” I’ll admit his sputtering made me smile.
But back to the court decisions about it not being slander to falsely call someone gay – that doesn’t mean, of course, that “faggot,” “dyke” and “that’s so gay,” aren’t still rather widely considered insulting, but
… some judges have concluded that it is not damaging to anyone’s reputation, just as calling a white man black is no longer grounds for legal action as it was a generation ago.
Legal decisions don’t define personal perceptions and judgments, but the decisions often do reflect, and help strengthen, societal changes. One easy measure of changes, legal and social, is the evolution of Pride as a statement of liberation and equality.
LGBT Pride is tied to the Stonewall Riots (more about that next week), but the evolution of Pride as an annual event, and as a key focus of the movement, is more complex. From Loni Shibuyama at ONE Archives, one theory about how “‘pride’ became a mantra of the LGBTQ movement” (emphasis mine):
In their book, Gay L.A., Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons write about an LA group called Personal Rights in Defense and Education, or PRIDE. Formed in 1966, PRIDE was a gay and lesbian rights group that was more in-your-face than its predecessors, and it’s believed to be one of the earliest instances of use of the word “pride” in regard to LGBTQ politics. The group didn’t last very long, but during its run it published a newsletter, held monthly ‘pride night’ meetings, attempted (unsuccessfully) to open a gay community center, and organized the 1967 demonstrations against the Black Cat bar raid in Silver Lake. Check this out, the very first newsletter from PRIDE in May 1966:
Incidentally, that that very newsletter changed its name to the The Los Angeles Advocate (‘a PRIDE publication’) in 1967, which you may now know simply as Advocate. You know, Advocate, that national magazine with a bunch of famous people on the covers—that’s the one.
Attempt to insult me by calling me a “lezzie” – you just added to my pride in simply being who I am. Attempt to insult one of my straight friends by calling her a “lezzie” – well, apparently she can’t sue you, but then, she might have the same response as did one such friend, when the smirking young guy loudly remarked, to the snickers of his appreciative friends: “I’ll bet you’re a lesbo fag, too.” “Why thank you,” she said, as we walked on.
(Pride 1966 photos via ONE)