Rag Tag Army

Published June 27, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

On the 28 June 1969, a rag tag queer army of accidental heroes when confronted by the NYPD during a public morals raid at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s Greenwich Village struck back. The Stonewalls’ patrons at that time mostly drag queens, transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth, the most marginalised of us from within our community and without. This iconic battle known as the Stonewall Riots touted as the birth of the modern gay rights movement ironically was fought stiletto to billy club but not by the homophile organisations but the undesirables demanding the respect and dignity due them as human beings.

In the 1960s and 1970s a time of grassroot political action dominated by calls for liberation or ‘root and branch’ social reform, saw many confrontations between the people and authorities. Times were a changing fast, earlier movements included the homophile organisations whose aim was social respectability through integration and later through the Gay Liberation Movement we voiced demands for social reform.

Today

As we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we see gay rights organisations inheritors of the homophile perspective campaign for marriage equality, while kids kill themselves because of homophobic bullying. It seems unclear how a trip to town hall will change the norms underpinning this discrimination and persecution experienced within and by our communities.  The question here does marriage equality represent for some the opportunity to reconcile with patriarchal institutions in providing them a sense of social acceptance, while us undesirables still suffer the reality of social sanctions.

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