The real ‘Gay USA’ story, even part of it, is far too big to tell on one article. Listed in the Gay USA News & Reports of this site are many pages and years with hundreds of stories that express the wide range of edges in the ongoing American revolution against repression, fear and ignorance toward natural varieties of human sexuality.
By Richard Ammon
Updated July 2006
In 1969 a small group of drag queens, gay men and lesbians resisted a police raid on their local hangout, the Stonewall Bar in New York City. That was about thirty-five years ago–a generation and a half.
Since that particular event the USA has seen a cultural war spread from coast to coast and in every state and capital as well as far abroad. Sexual orientation as an identity entered the international stage with a fierce controversial force. Needless to say, this heated wave of expression–for recognition, rights and equality–ran headlong into encrusted religious, social and political traditions that had dominated human behavior and sexuality since the dawn of civilization.
The story of modern gay America is the struggle for the right to live and love and marry in a same-sex manner with dignity, authenticity and equality. Great forces of prejudice and bigotry have lashed against us, attempting to demonize and criminalize our affectional natures.
But our most powerful tool, prodded by heroic activist efforts, is ultimately the rule of constitutional law in a democracy of fair-minded legislators and judicial officials. Slowly over the course of the past three decades homosexuality as an openly identified natural attribute has–in leaps and halts– become recognized, validated and legally protected both in the USA and around the globe.
From these willful and legalisticAmerican efforts great victories have come along throughout the world. Reaching higher and higher into elected offices we have achieved more status and influence than ever. In Australia, one of the Supreme Court justices, Michael Kirby, is openly gay. Gay cabinet level ministers and legislators now sit in European parliaments and in a few legislatures in America. The year 2003 was an historic watershed as the US Supreme Court struck down a blatantly dicriminatory ban on gay sex in private. This June decison was followed by the November ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Court which ruled that gays and lesbians had an equal right of ‘marriage’; the court gave the Massachusetts legislature six months (May ’04) to work out the details and definitions.
International LGBT political and human rights commissions continue to make their voices heard at the United Nations Humna Rights Commission. And the most invasive and available media–TV and the Internet–have brought homosexual images, words and hope to vastly isolated gay men and women in remote and repressive nations–as well as archly conservative rural America. Type ‘Gay USA’ into the search engine www.Google.com and it returns about 1,340,000 sites!
Even so, the struggle goes on against ignorance, intolerance and violence which daily haunt the lives of LGBT citizens. The defeats and losses have also mounted. Young men like Matthew Sheppard and, more recently, Eddie/Gwen Araujo (Story) have been slaughtered. A conservative Republican government in Washington passed an hysterical ‘Defence of Marriage’ law that denies ‘marriage’ status to same-sex partners. Gays are hunted and expelled from the military. Religious intolerance forces millions of gay and bisexual men and women into sham marriages.
The struggle has been and will be across generations. The complexity of issues among cultures is daunting. The clash of seemingly incompatible sexuality, politics and religion create a cauldron of human turmoil that may never be resolved.
Many religious and cultural wars have been settled by military conquest and eventually resolved into history. But inherent sexuality issues cut far deeper into the psyche than learned political or religious beliefs. The machinery of war won’t stall this battle.
Sexuality unites all people and homosexuality terrifies most because of its mysterious allure. A Muslim knows he/she is separate from a Hindu. A socialist knows he/she is distinct from a capitalist. But a heterosexual is invariably both joined to and threatened by homosexuality because both are inescapable forces that can and often do cross a permeable boundary. The most homophobic Arab may well have experienced homosexual activity in his youth. Western straight men, research reveals, have more private homosexual fantasies than they will ever admit. Straight men appear to enjoy lesbian sex videos.
So the emergence of a legitimate gay identity continues to battle unavoidably with countless efforts to cure it, bash it or legislate against it. The struggle continues on many fronts. See the USA News & Reports for the enormous full story.