Friday, June 26, 2009

Tatchell: Our lost gay radicalism

Our lost gay radicalism | Peter Tatchell | Comment is free | The Guardian
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York when, for the first time in history, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people fought back against ­decades of police harassment.

Previously, LGBT people worldwide had largely complied with arrest and criminalisation. But not in New York on the nights of 27 and 28 June 1969. What began as a routine police raid on a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, turned into sporadic street battles. In the aftermath of this history-making queer resistance, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed in New York and similar groups sprang up across the US and the world. The modern LGBT rights movement was born.

There had been earlier homosexual law reform and welfare organisations in the US, Britain and the Netherlands. But these were small, discreet lobby groups. Their members were brave trailblazers but very defensive and mostly closeted.

The global GLF movement was radically different. It was a watershed in queer consciousness – the moment LGBT people discarded victimhood and stopped ­apologising. Instead of pleas for tolerance, the demand was unconditional acceptance. Thousands came out. This had never happened before.....

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