Fayetteville held its eighth pride today. I’d say about 150 or 200 people of every color and age group came out to march or cheer, showing their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and celebrating human diversity. I was glad to be there with so many kids and parents and grandparents and friends and partners, and to record some of their moments together.
Pride marches are usually held in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City. Police raids on bars popular with gay and transgender people were common in the 1950s and 1960s. Men dressed in non-gender-conforming ways, gay youth cast out by their families and others were arrested simply for being there.
During one such raid in June 1969, Stonewall bar patrons refused to follow the script and submit to humiliation. A solitary woman began fighting officers after being whacked in the head with a baton and, the story goes, she turned to the crowd that was growing and screamed, “Why don’t you guys do something?”
They did. Riots continued for several days. A year later, the first pride marches were held in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York itself. They continue today. LGBT advocates say their work is unfinished, though plenty of people obviously disagree. Many, including here in the South, might say those police raids in the ’60s were the right idea.
I saw only one protester today. “America is doomed,” read his sign on one side in duct-tape letters, while the other read, “God hates anti-Christ fags.” The slur a hideous, ugly word, and I’ll have anyone who reads this blog see it for what it is instead of censoring it.
But the people in the parade reacted to this man as you might expect: with teasing laughs for him and love for each other.
Thanks for looking,