Ed Team

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Recognizes Pride Month

Filed By Ed Team | June 02, 2011 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Quote of the Day
Tags: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, DNC Chair, pride month

"This June, I join together with LGBT Americans across this country in recognizing PRIDE Month. That means celebrating the enormous strides that LGBT Americans have taken toward equality, but it also means rededicating ourselves to guaranteeing that all Americans - no matter their sexual orientation - are looked upon as fully equal in the eyes of the law."

-- DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a statement recognizing Pride Month. The rest of the statement is after the jump.

"Thanks to the hard work of President Obama and LGBT activists across the country, we are now closer than ever to that goal. The outdated and discriminatory policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has been repealed. The President has directed the Department of Justice to stop defending DOMA in court and declared it unconstitutional. The hate crimes prevention law has been expanded and we now have our nation's first comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy. The President continues to work to dispel the myth that bullying, particularly of LGBT students, is a harmless part of growing up and works each day to better the lives of LGBT Americans in every facet of American life. On the international stage, President Obama has shown global leadership in condemning anti-LGBT violence at the United Nations and took the opportunity at the National Prayer Breakfast to speak out against the 'odious' anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda.

"Forty two years ago this month, LGBT Americans' struggled for equal rights entered into the American consciousness when individuals at the Stonewall Inn decided to take a stand. In the four decades since, Americans across this country have kept up the fight for equality. This PRIDE Month, we recommit to this struggle for equality as we strive to finally make injustice and inequality things of the past."

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Sigh...here we go again. No mention of ENDA/employment rights, no mention of gender identity. Even Obama (or at least his staff) knows better than that. Lots of pretty words, nothing that could be construed as a promise of actual progress in the future. I guess Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has truly adopted the DNC way of dealing with our community. More's the pity.

Tall Stacey | June 4, 2011 10:14 PM

Ain't it the truth!

For those of us old enough we remember that what we know today as "Pride" evolved from Christopher Street Liberation Day, the commemoration of that early morning June 28, 1969 event that motivated our community to demand our civil rights.

As the Wikipedia article on the Stonewall riots (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots) points out, the civil disobedience began that morning when “Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers.” The article goes on to describe how later that morning as events unfolded "The mob openly mocked the police. The crowd cheered, started impromptu kick lines, and sang to the tune of The Howdy Doody Show theme song: "We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We don't wear underwear/ We show our pubic hairs". Stonewall was led by the gender community.

And before that in August of 1966 at the Compton cafeteria: “On the outer fringes of the few small gay communities were people who challenged gender expectations. They were effeminate men and masculine women, or biological men who dressed and lived as women and biological women who dressed as men, either part or full-time. Contemporary nomenclature classified them as transvestites, and they were the most visible representatives of sexual minorities. They belied the carefully crafted image portrayed by the Mattachine Society and DOB that asserted homosexuals were respectable, normal people. The Mattachine and DOB considered the trials of being arrested for wearing clothing of the opposite gender as a parallel to the struggles of homophile organizations: similar but distinctly separate. Gay and transgender people staged a small riot in Los Angeles in 1959 in response to police harassment. In 1966, drag queens, hustlers, and transvestites were sitting in Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco when the police arrived to arrest men dressed as women.” “When a police officer accustomed to manhandling the Compton's clientele attempted to arrest one of the trans women, she threw her coffee in his face. “ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compton%27s_Cafeteria_riot) Again it was the gender community standing in the face of oppression, even in opposition to the then dominant gay organization which did not acknowledge us.

The article goes on to note that that event marked a turning point in the local LGBT movement. According to the online encyclopedia glbtq.com:
In the aftermath of the riot at Compton's, a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services was established, which culminated in 1968 with the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit [NTCU], the first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world.
Serving as an overseer to the NTCU was Sergeant Elliott Blackstone, designated in 1962 as the first San Francisco Police Department liaison to what was then called the "homophile community." Again, the gender community led the way.

So why do we now face, more importantly why do we tolerate exclusion from the mainstream equality movement?

The Stonewall riot article goes on to note that "Race, class, ideology, and gender became frequent obstacles in the years after the riots. This was illustrated during the 1973 Stonewall rally when, moments after Barbara Gittings exuberantly praised the diversity of the crowd, feminist activist Jean O'Leary protested what she perceived as the mocking of women by transvestites and drag queens in attendance. During a speech by O'Leary, in which she claimed that drag queens made fun of women for entertainment value and profit, Sylvia Rivera and Lee Brewster jumped on the stage and shouted "You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!" Both the drag queens and lesbian feminists in attendance left in disgust.

Perhaps it's time for another Stonewall.

I actually knew Lee Brewster. Very early on in my coming out process I used to go to his store in Manhattan to buy my clothes and makeup. By then he was an old(er) man who sat in his armchair on the floor of the store with his cat on his lap, ruling his domain. A wonderful man who was very kind to a very scared and nervous neo-transwoman when she desperately needed it. I'll always remember him fondly for that.

I met Sylvia once. She was like a godmother to every NYC transperson who totally dominated the room when she walked in. Everyone just stopped talking and listened in rapt silence as she spoke to us. I've never seen anything like it or her before or since. What an incredible woman.

And yes, I agree. It is time for another Stonewall. In fact, it's long overdue.