Pride Month has passed, a distinction that honors the 1969 uprising in Greenwich Village when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar.
According to Britannica.com, “In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 28, 1969, nine policemen entered the Stonewall Inn, arrested the employees for selling alcohol without a license, roughed up many of its patrons, cleared the bar, and—in accordance with a New York criminal statute that authorized the arrest of anyone not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing—took several people into custody. It was the third such raid on Greenwich Village gay bars in a short period.”
Instead of scattering, people outside the bar began to “jeer at and jostle the police and then threw bottles and debris.” The policemen barricaded themselves inside the bar while some 400 people rioted and eventually set fire to the bar. Police reinforcements arrived in time to extinguish the flames and eventually dispersed the crowd.
I remember my dad asking me in the ’80s what I thought about homosexuality. I was in college and was thrilled he was interested in my opinion. I said something to the affect of, “I don’t understand it, but I embrace the people.” Today, I still land here, not understanding much more, but knowing I love the gay people in my life simply because they’re human.
I’m working on a story about Alan and Leslie Chambers that will be displayed with nine other stories in a fall exhibit called, “I am Momentous Living.” These short stories and black-and-white images will explore the meaning of words through the experiences of uniquely diverse individuals. Their stories are not meant for comparison to one’s own story. But rather, they are meant for contemplation, exploration, and expansion. Alan, who confesses to having gay tendencies but chooses a heterosexual life, is the former president of Exodus, an organization that was known for, among other things, as trying to “pray away the gay.” Alan stepped down as president and closed Exodus’ doors in 2013, believing more harm was being done than good, and giving a public apology covered by mainstream media that created quite the stir. Today, Alan, with Leslie’s support, creates opportunities for the LGBTQ and religious communities to come together in constructive dialogue believing those efforts build bridges with healthier outcomes. Alan and Leslie are often scrutinized, but have grown to be okay with that, as they remain focused on, “Love God. Love people.”
As we move on from Pride Month and into another month, I join with Alan and Leslie in saying that love is a great place to stay focused…with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our strength.