Opinion: Taylor Swift Threw the First Brick at Stonewall

Hello all! It's June and you all know what that means: Abbey gets to be gay as heck again. Last year I took a more reflective tone and don't you worry, that'll make an appearance at some point because, lesbihonest, it's me, but this year I wanna take a few minutes to learn you all about Stonewall and the first Pride. Because Pride isn't just a fun rainbow party with inappropriately shaped lollipops, questionable amounts of clothing, and even more questionable amounts of glitter. It's a time to remember. A time to think about how far we've come. The first Pride wasn't a party or parade. The first Pride was a riot.

Fifty years ago, on June 28-29 1969,a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar run by the mafia and frequented by transgender individuals, drag queens, homeless youths, butch lesbians, and other LGBT outcasts was raided by police. If you can believe it, the 60s and 70s weren't exactly a great time to be gay or trans. In the post World War II world, during the Red Scare, people who were homosexual were considered security risks. The FBI actually kept lists of known homosexuals. Homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder (something that stayed in the DSM until 1974 and is an opinion of many people to this day). Needless to say, it was a perfect storm. Gay bars were raided on the regular, queer people were arrested and publicly shamed in their communities, and shunned from everyday life. So it's not to hard to believe that tensions finally boiled over.

Stonewall Inn

Stonewall Inn

There are many stories out there about who threw the first brick at Stonewall. But how did it get that far? During normal police raids, a female officer would take those dressed as women to another room to verify their sex. Any men dressed as women were arrested. That night, on June 28, 1969, those in women's clothes refused to go. So the police decided to take everyone to the police station. A crowd grew and when the police grew violent with several people they arrested, the riot began in ernest. Beer cans, stones, pennies, shoes, purses were all thrown at police. Impromptu kick lines formed to keep police lines back. The queer community was done and they were letting the police have it. The Stonewall Inn burned.

The next day the riots continued with even more violence than before. Thousands of people showed up to the Stonewall Inn. Clashes fizzled out in the next few days but queer people began to feel empowered. No more was it the quiet fight. “Gay Power” was the cry heard around the country. One year later, parades were held in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, marking the anniversary of the event. Over the years it's become less of a solemn memory of the struggles we've faced and more of a celebration of who we are.

Pride started as a riot. It was started by trans people of color, butch lesbians, drag queens, effeminate gay men, and other people who were just a little out of place in the world. There are some days today where it feels like all of the progress since Stonewall was in vain. Local pastors/detectives are saying that LGBTQIA+ people deserve to be executed. Lesbian couples are beat to a pulp on a London train for refusing to kiss for the entertainment of straight men. Our own President wants to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. It is legal to be fired in 26 states for being gay or trans. There are no federal anti-discrimination laws on the books for LGBTQIA+ people. In 2018, 26 trans people, mostly trans women of color, were killed due to violence from partners, families, or even strangers. The Gay Panic Defense, which says “I killed them because I was so shocked they were gay/trans” is still legal in 46 states. Yeah, same-sex marriage is legal. But honestly, sometimes, it feels like that's about it.

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That brings me to last year. I wrote this long blog about soccer and Pride and my coming out story. And then I attended my first Pride festival. I expected the glitter, the drag queens, the leather, the questionable amounts of clothing. What I didn't expect was the tremendous amounts of validation and reflection I felt. I've been in a relationship with a cis-man for over 10 years (Love you, Pete!), so to the unknowing stranger I look straight. So I was also a little worried about going to Pride, I'll be honest. But about halfway through I looked around and what I saw over and over and over was me. Bisexual people, all sorts of LGBTQIA+ people, friends, strangers, people who just wanted to hug you. It was one of the happiest days of that year. For the first time, I felt completely comfortable in my skin. I belonged here.

This year, The Pride supporter's group will take that a step further by marching in this year's Pride Parade. I, sadly, will not be in attendance. To all of my LGBTQIA+ siblings, I love you all. This is our day. This is the one day where we don't have to hold back. Our queer ancestors fought for this. Pride is a party. To all our straight allies who are joining us, thank you. Thank you for your support. But I implore you to remember that all the YAS QUEEN, spill the tea, RuPaul's Drag Race in the world will not erase the undying fear that some day one of those headlines will be about us. That the next friend or family member we come out to will push us away or harm us. The best way to be an ally is to listen. Support queer voices not only during Pride month, but every day. Speak up to protect, but do not speak over. Love unconditionally.

Oh. Right. Soccer stuff. Our women’s team is far superior to the men’s team in both skill and looks. And don’t even get me started on Chile’s keeper.

Abbey Witzgall