On The Dallas Voice's Blog, Instant Tea, there is a picture of an American flag with only two stars. The two stars represent the two states where we have marriage equality, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The question was posed, "How long do you think it will take for the flag to have all 50 stars or how long do you think it will take Texas to get its star". My response was as follows.
Contrary to the popular notion that Queer people are on some kind of one way road to equality and that it is only a matter of time isn’t correct. History is marked with ups and downs regarding our and other’s civil rights.
Throughout McCarthy’s 1950’s a witch-hunt was carried out against Lesbian and Gays not only in the public, but the private sector as well. LGBT people were constantly being imprisoned and harassed by the police. The 1950’s were not happy times for the LGBT people.
With the end of McCarthyism in the 1960s things got a bit better for LGBTs. Although there had been Gay and Lesbian homophile activism during the 1950s and 60s, the Stonewall RIOTS gave birth to a more “radical” style activism which has waxed and waned during the past 40 years.
The point is that for the first time Gay Liberation thrust our plight into the public consciousness. In 1973 Gay Liberation did virtually overnight what the homophile movement had been trying to accomplish for nearly 2 decades; to remove homosexuality for the American Psychological Association’s list of mental disorders. Gays and Lesbians of the 1970s also enjoyed some of the first pro-Gay legislation to ever exist in the US. Sexuality was added to local human rights ordinances in various cities across the country.
The Weimar Republic that existed in Germany between the two world wars was one of the most pro-homosexual governments ever to exist until that time. Homosexuals enjoyed liberties during that time that don’t exist almost one hundred years on in many parts of the world today. I don’t have to remind you how that all changed in 1933. The same was true, but obviously to a much lesser extent, when Anita Bryant went around spewing her hate and lies and overturning prior gains the LGBT civil right’s movement had made. A very similar situation has and is happening with the issue of marriage equality in California with Prop 8 being the most recent development.
So a lot can happen in a very short amount of time either in the advancement or removal of civil rights. The opposite is true as well. Decade can pass without the slightest amount of change.
The key though is that when a group starts to make a bunch of noise, kick up some dust, and get their message out in a very visible and clever way change happens. It doesn’t matter if those that are being visible and clever are Nazis, Anita Bryant, members of the Gay Liberation Front, or Queers today. The same rule applies. It’s a battle of ideas. So if we hope to make any progress in terms of our civil rights sooner rather than later, if we want to see all 50 stars on that marriage equality flag, then we have got to get out and make some noise and kick up some dust.