Recently, the wonderful Pam’s House Blend had a great summary of the history of civil disobedience in the LGBTQ fight for civil rights. Seems pretty appropriate with Pride – the annual celebration of the Stonewall riots – just around the corner (or technically, started, here in Boston).
Some great points that the post offered:
- Stonewall was a violent and spontaneous act that lasted days.
- The earliest cases of AIDS were identified in 1981 and yet ACT UP wasn’t formed until 1987 out of disgust for the governments inaction. (Not to say that the folks that were ACT UP didn’t do enough, but it’s so easy to forget exactly just how long it took the government to do anything.)
- In 2007 the Employee Non-Discrimination Act was killed for the 34th time.
As LGBTQ people, there is so much that we have been denied. From freedom to assemble – fought for at Stonewall; for the government to see us as legitimate people – especially during a health crisis; for marriage; for the protection from being told that you can’t have a job, rent an apartment, use a restroom that feels right for you; serve in the military; and many other things.
Lately, there has been a new uprising of civil disobedience by the folks who call themselves GetEQUAL. They’re the folks who organized the handcuffing of Lt. Dan Choi and other LGBTQ military folks to the White House fence and the ones who interrupted Obama while he was speaking at a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer. Since GetEQUAL became active, I’ve seen some blog posts questioning their tactics and wondering if the time for civil disobedience is over. It can seem like such a 1960s thing. But, GetEQUAL has been effective. It really feels like the turning point is near. And while we’ve been doing a lot of work on the inside of the system, groups like GetEQUAL have been causing a much needed stir. (Also, a shout out to Join the Impact, specifically Join the Impact MA, who are also doing great work. More on them later.)
Do you know what empowerment feels like?