The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Gay Rights in the US
There has been massive progress in the gay rights movement in the United States these past few decades, but how much do you know about queer history and the gay rights movement in the land of the free? I think that most of you are aware or know that pride month is in June, and my school only started to teach about gay right moment, and of course, this was part of the extracurricular activity and was only done during pride month, and we were told the bare minimum. Important things like the AIDs epidemic were glossed over and were treated like a footnote of queer history when it wiped out more people than the war of Vietnam.
This is to say that even as an older Gen Z, I barely learnt about the history of my people, and I can guess that people older than me didn’t even learn this much at school. It is essential that we tell the history of our elders else it will be erased from history. Let’s learn about some of the most important events that impacted queer history.
After years of mistreatment and marginalization, a group of queer people had had enough of being treated like lesser than and bullied by the police. On the 28th June 1969, some patron from Stonewall Inn said enough was enough and decided to stand up to their aggressors and fight back again the police. Neighbors and patrons of the bar started to throw objects at the authority to show their displeasure against their tyrannical rule, and this subsequently turnt into a riot and protest, which lasted for 5 days. This is why we say all human right protest started with riots because the higher upper won’t listen to us unless we make our voice heard and break what’s dear to them…capitalism. This is why pride is celebrated in June around the world because of some queer people who decided to stand up against an unjust system.
After the Stonewall riot, the AIDs epidemic is one of the most talked-about parts of queer history. If you want to read more on the matter, we have a whole blog dedicated to it; click here to learn more. To summarize the whole thing, AIDS was formerly known as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency); this was because it was mostly gay men who died from the disease, and the government did nothing until they realized that straight people were suffering from the disease too. AIDs killed more Americans than the Vietnam war and people barely talked about this because it was mainly queer men who passed away and who cared about them right. This highlights Judith Butler’s theory that no one will care until a cis-gender white male is suffering.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)
The DACT act was passed in 1992 by then-president Bill Clinton, who made it illegal to discriminate against queer people in the military as long as they weren’t openly out. As the name suggests, queer people were allowed to serve in the military as long as they were still in the closet. In 2011, Barack Obama fulfilled one of his campaign promises and repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act. By then, more than 12 000 soldiers were discharged on the basis of their sexuality or because they refused to hide it.
Matthew Shepard Act
Matthew Shepard was a young American man who was 21 years old when he was tortured and killed because he was gay. In 1988, Shepard was whipped, tortured, and tied to a fence, and left to die alone in the middle of nowhere. His murder is thought to be a hate crime because Shepard was an openly queer man. In 2009, former President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard Act, a new hate crime supposed to protect queer people against hate crimes. The Matthew Shepard Act is an addition and a continuation of the 1994 hate crime law.
Why is it essential to know queer history?
Remember, like other communities; we aren’t born with our own; that is, we aren’t always born with queer relatives; this is why it is harder to learn queer history. Most of us are usually disowned by our blood relatives and create our own chosen family from which we learn about the history of our elders and those who came and fought before us. This is why as a writer, I always write about queer issues and history because if you don’t remember and tell the history of those before us, it will be lost, and we will be repeating history all over again. One thing that we may hope as queer people is that the journey of those after us is easier than ours and that, ultimately, queerness will no longer be seen as something that is frowned upon.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you want to read more about queer history.