Monday, April 25

American Experience

I am watching an amazing documentary called Stonewall Uprising on American Experience and it's breaking my heart. I have many, many friends who happen to be gay. I consider sexual orientation to be a footnote or a fun fact about a person. In fact, when a co-worker and I went out to lunch soon after she started working with me, and she came out to me, my reaction was something like "Ooh! How exotic. It's like finding out you're from Transylvania or some other cool place!" Luckily, she just laughed at me. When another woman, who is from Lebanon came out to me, I exclaimed "OMG! I've never met a Lebanese lesbian. You're a collectible!". Again, thank God she laughed. I mention this not to feel superior but to illustrate how foolish I can be too. I only hope it's more accepting than some others.

Of course, this is today. Years ago that kind of reaction was unthinkable. Years ago to be gay was to be considered criminal and possibly a psychopath. Considering how many wonderful people I know who are gay, it genuinely pains me to hear how abused and mistreated gays were (and are) ... in my lifetime.

We've all seen black and white footage and horrific pictures from the civil rights movement. People of my generation have all been shocked and outraged by the ignorant, hateful ravings of bigots before our time. However, to hear the same insane things said about gay people is just as shocking. Seeing bigoted rants on color film emphasizes how recently these beliefs were commonly held.

The Stonewall uprising happened in 1969. It was the Summer of Love but we rarely hear about what happened at Stonewall. It's a story worth learning more about and this film does a good job of it. In the end it's an uplifting survival story but, man, is it shocking. Just a few weeks ago a dined at an Italian place on Stonewall. I turned to my host and said "Is this THE Stonewall? As in the Stonewall Riots?". It was. Cool! I didn't know many details about Stonewall beyond it being the time when (mostly) gay men fought back. It was the beginning the the gay rights movement that, of course, continues to this day.

Do yourself a favor and check this movie out. It's a great piece of American history that deserves more attention.

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