Saturday, June 27, 2009
The day that the fags, dykes, and queens of New York City finally said "Enough!" For some historical perspective, I'm posting the story that the New York Daily News ran that week about the Stonewall Riots. Note how the story drips with condescension and ridicule. We've come a long, long way in 40 years and we've still got some distance to cover, but today we should all offer up a shout, a snap, and a silent prayer of thanks to the people who started us down this road.
For the article and rest of the story see: JMG
As President Obama prepares to host a cocktail reception at the White House for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender leaders, prominent activists and fundraisers return to the Stonewall Inn on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots to announce a new comprehensive LGBT civil rights agenda. At that time they will also present U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler with signed petitions from all 50 states and 36 countries supporting expansion of the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people, marking the official launch of The Power’s nationwide petition drive and campaign demanding full equality now.
The Power (www.thepoweronline.org), is an online organizing network that empowers grassroots and netroots activists from every state in the country and from all over the world to fight for equal rights for LGBT people, not on some arbitrary and convenient schedule created by politicians and lobbyists, but right now.
Speakers will include Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, civil rights attorney Liz Abzug (daughter of feminist, anti-war, and LGBT activist and Congresswoman Bella Abzug), former Jerry Falwell ghostwriter and Soulforce founder Rev. Mel White, and others.
WHAT: A press conference convened by The Power (www.ThePowerOnline.org) launching a national movement to pass comprehensive LGBT civil rights legislation.
WHO: Jeffrey H. Campagna, founder of The Power, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a representative of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, and civil rights attorney and daughter of Congresswoman Bella Abzug, Liz Abzug.
WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, June 29, 2009, 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
WHERE: Outside The Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St. @ Sheridan Square, New York, NY
WHY: With a self-proclaimed "fierce advocate" of LGBT rights in the White House, and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the federal agenda for gay rights does not include full equality. It is time for LGBT people and their allies to seize this historic moment to pass comprehensive civil rights legislation now.
· Jeffrey H. Campagna is the founder of The Power. Campagna is also an attorney who worked in the civil rights bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office, and a fundraiser for Democratic causes who was on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's LGBT steering committees. He is co-author of The Dallas Principles (www.thedallasprinciples.o
· Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Civil Rights, and lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.
· Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is the leader of the largest LGBT congregation in the world, New York's Congregation Beth Simchat Torah.
· Liz Abzug is a public affairs consultant and adjunct professor of urban studies at Columbia University, she is the daughter of the late Congresswoman Bella Abzug who introduced sweeping gay rights legislation three times in the 1970's.
· Rev. Dr. Mel White is former ghost writer for clients including Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston, founder of Soulforce, a national organization of religious leaders fighting religious based bigotry, and author of "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay And Christian In America"
QUOTES AND INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
Imagine this: a tranny hustler, mascara streaking her cheeks, peers into a wee rift in the time-space continuum as the angry crowd in front of the Stonewall Inn on Sheridan Square flings beer bottles and fistfuls of spare change at a retreating phalanx of NYPD officers. Nearby, candles flicker at makeshift shrines to Judy Garland, whose farewell performance at an uptown funeral home ended mere hours ago.
Through that snag in the cosmological stocking, our draft-dodging tranny spies an America exactly 40 years on from the Stonewall riots—and two generations removed from the young queerfolk pushing back against the agents of heterosexist conformity and the blackfolk who are setting ablaze the last pillars of Jim Crow.
What does our heroine behold?
A Harvard-educated black man in the White House who defends a vast surveillance apparatus controlled by an Orwellian-sounding entity called Homeland Security and a restive coterie of gays and lesbians who disdain nonconformity and clamor for the right to get married and enlist in the Marines.
“Oh Mary,” our wide-eyed tranny rasps, “I’m gonna need a cocktail to get my head around this one.”
The Stonewall riots of late June 1969—as well as the Summer of Love two years earlier, the Woodstock music festival two months later and the debut of the Cockettes at the Palace Theater in San Francisco the following New Year’s Eve—are examples of what Hakim Bey, a queer anarchist social critic, calls the Temporary Autonomous Zone.
“The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State,” Bey writes, “a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it.”
Bey’s idea trades on the observation that orthodoxy of any kind—legal, social or religious—is essentially a living fiction, a collective hallucination. Groups that participate in this illusion take its abstractions for reality, and within that margin of error the TAZ springs into being.
And before it can be captured or commodified, the TAZ vanishes, leaving behind an empty husk. Think of Burning Man (or perhaps the Jesus Movement).
The anarchic spirit of the TAZ inevitably calls forth a violent response from those who tend the shadow-fires of orthodoxy. Crucifixions, witch-hunts, and inquisitions embodied this impulse in our historical past, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy during the Consciousness Revolution of the late 1960s also bore its mark.
As did the 50,000 deaths that Ronald Reagan abided before he uttered the word “AIDS” in public.
Today, queer culture is not so much a vector of this spiritual enlivenment as it is a passive beneficiary of it. Rather than dismantling the master’s house, many of us prefer to beseech the master to loan us his tools so that we can construct a tasteful adjoining cottage and two-car garage.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I should hasten to add. Stability has its virtues.
But we have lost sight of something that the most keen-eyed queerfolk of the Stonewall era clearly had in view: the circumstances under which human beings can flourish are innumerable, and cultivating an orthodox view of human flourishing inevitably leads to the oppression of nonconformists and the spiritual degeneration of the culture that oppresses them.
I suspect the next Consciousness Revolution will be sparked not by an uprising of the kind of readily identifiable groups that energized the social changes of the 1960s—women, African-Americans, and queerfolk—but by some as yet unfathomable configuration within the rapidly growing, spiritual-but-not-religious cohort that we’re now haphazardly calling the “Nones.”
Sexual tricksters like our tranny hustler will definitely figure into the mix, as will humanists and other proponents of ethical and moral heterodoxy. The catalyst for the Stonewall of the Nones will likely be some form of revolt against the aforementioned surveillance culture, the perniciousness of which mainstream progressives just don’t seem to grok, even as more radical social critics like Bob Ostertag have already started to sound the alarm.
“The TAZ is…a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful” observes Bey, “and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies.”
So agitate for same-sex marriage if you feel you must—like I said: there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t imagine that ipso facto you’re carrying the torch of Stonewall forward.
Just please don’t take up a pitchfork when the real revolutionaries appear.thanks to Religion Dispatches
Dan Choi, a native of California and an Army Lieutenant, asked us to share this message with the Courage Campaign community.
An amazing 141,262 people signed Lt. Choi's letter to President Obama a few weeks ago. Now he needs your help again. Please forward this message to your friends and spread the word before Tuesday.
Chair, Courage Campaign
Dear Daniel --
On Tuesday at 8 a.m., I will stand trial for speaking three truthful words: "I am gay."
On Tuesday, I will face a panel of colonels who will decide whether or not to fire me -- to discharge me for "moral and professional dereliction" under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
On Tuesday, I will try to prove that it's not immoral to tell the truth.
As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates.
My case requires that I provide personal testimony from people who can attest to my character. That's why several members of my military unit have written letters of support and offered to testify on my behalf.
Now I need your help. ANYONE who believes the Army should not fire me can take a stand right now. I am bringing a statement of support to Tuesday's trial and I need you to add your signature to it. Will you support me by signing this statement before Tuesday?
I want to thank the 141,262 people who have signed the "Don't Fire Dan" letter launched a few weeks ago by the Courage Campaign and CREDO Mobile to President Obama, asking him to take leadership to bring this tragic policy to an end.
The momentum is building. This week, 77 members of Congress signed a letter to the President citing my service as an example of why DADT should be repealed. And a Gallup poll was recently released showing that 69 percent of Americans -- including 58 percent of Republicans - favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve their country .
As I learned at West Point, deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force. That's why more than 70 of my fellow West Point graduates have also come out of the closet to join Knights Out, the organization I co-founded to build support for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
The only way we will eventually overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is by speaking up together. You can help me fight back right now by adding your name to my statement of support. On Tuesday morning, I will bring your signature -- and thousands of others -- to my trial as a demonstration of your collective support:
National security means many things, but the thing that makes us secure in our nation and homes is love. What makes me a better soldier, leader, Christian and human being is love. And I'm not going to hide my love.
Love is worth it.
Thank you for your support.
Daniel W. Choi
New York Army National Guard
Courage Campaign Issues is part of the Courage Campaign's online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in California.