Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A brief history of gay movements (Part IV of V)

Here is Part Four for your reading pleasure. It is educational too, ya know? ;P

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In 1969, The Stonewall riots transformed the gay right movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, instead of submitting to the countless and relentless harassment from the police, fought back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots. The riot was subsequently known as the `Riot that sparked the Gay Revolution'.

Following Illinois in 1960 and Connecticut in 1969, there came a rush to decriminalize homosexual acts in all the other states in USA. The decriminalization of homosexual acts in England and Wales in 1967 also triggered similar responses in other countries in Europe.

The fight for gay rights continued in the form of peaceful rallies and intellectual debates for many years. In 1973, after intense lobbying by gay right activists, The American Psychiatric Association finally removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders. And for the first time in history, homosexuality is no longer regarded as a disease to be treated, but a normal variant of human sexuality to be celebrated as well as to take pride in.

In the span of two decades, the USA had witnessed 4 gay marches that pressed for social change. The first, known as the 1979 March, marked the tenth anniversary of the Stonewall riots and came in the wake of the lenient jail sentence given to Dan White for the assassination of openly gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk. The First National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 14, 1979 was an historic event that drew more than 100,000 people from across the United States and ten other countries. The first march succeeded in drawing attention to the civil rights of homosexuals and in 1982, Wisconsin becomes the first state in the U.S. to pass a gay civil rights law protecting the rights of her homosexual citizens.

The 1987 March, the second national March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was held on October 11, 1987. It attracted more than a half million people from all over the USA. Triggered by the AIDS epidemic in USA, many of the marchers were angry over the government's slow and inadequate response to the AIDS crisis.

The 1987 march succeeded in bringing national attention to the impact of AIDS on gay communities. In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, a tapestry of nearly two thousand fabric panels offered a powerful tribute to the lives of some of those who had been lost in the pandemic. It was the first display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Each quilt represented a person died of AIDS. Each of them a memorial to a unique life filled with love and joy. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilts had been unfurled for public display in most major cities and many local chapters of the NAMES project had been formed all over the world.

The '87 march also spurred the dynamism of the AIDS movement, leading to the passage of Ryan White AIDS Care and the ADA (American Disability Act). The U.S. Congress passes the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act to provide help for people with AIDS who do not have health insurance or other resources. The ADA included AIDS as a disability and thus allowed people suffering from AIDS to claim for social support and compensation when they were no longer fit enough to work.

The date of the march, October 11, has been celebrated internationally ever since as National Coming Out Day to inspire members of the LGBTQ community to continue to show, as one of the common march slogans proclaimed, "We are everywhere."

4 comments:

Espion said...

But what relevance is the gay movement and history in the decadent liberal West has to do with conservative family-orientated Asian societies???

More significant perhaps will be a history of the social conceptualisation and accommodation - or otherwise - of gays in Asian societies. And even then Asian cannot be thought of in monolithic terms.

I am entirely unaware how Chinese think about and look upon men who prefer men in ancient and recent modern times. And I am quite sure the Malays and the Javanese and the other various people in SE Asia hold different concepts altogether. And seemingly the Thais are most tolerant of homosexuality. Why is that so?

Then there are the Indians. Here I have read some BBC stories where Indian transvetites explain themselves by their religion, something like one of their gods masquerade as a female and so on.

But then is transvestism the same kind of sexuality as homosexuality? Not many gays may prefer a sex change to just remaining men who like men. Wanting to be a woman may be one thing, and perhaps acceptable if the religion explains it, but men liking other men may yet be entirely strange and unacceptable.

Unless of course you are suggesting or take as implicit that whatever happens in the West somehow influences the world and eventually becomes the norm.

Perhaps in more Western-influenced society, like Singapore, it may have a larger influence. But local, traditional, religious and cultural factors may be the real and effective forces to shape what becomes of gay in our societies.

Anonymous said...

Dear Espion,

Funny you should put it that way. Decadent liberal West? I guess people are just always looking for scapegoats to blame. In the 19th century when UK began to outlaw homosexual acts, the English had blamed homosexuality as a decadent FOREIGN culture. The English blamed it on the French/Normans, who blamed it on the Romans and Greeks, who blamed it on Asian influences like India and China.

Apparently everyone was living in delusion thinking that there is no native gay people in their own country.

Before colonial powers swept across Asia, there were indeed no law that criminalise homosexual acts. In Malaysia, law against sodomy is a remnant of our colonial past. In Asian countries that are not previously colonised, there remained no such law.

Therefore it is very funny indeed to hear that now Asians are blaming the decadent West for the emergence of homosexual culture. Hmm...why not thank them for their harsh law against homosexuals instead?

Espion, you does seem like you are still highly misinformed about various issues concerning the LGBT community. First of all, transvestism and homosexuality are two different matters all together.

Of course, now that some countries in the West had finally given their LGBT citizen their legitimate right, it is only too convenient for homophobic people to blame the West for the disintergration of conservative Asian values. Its true you know, that the gays have their despicable gay agenda in mind. They want to get married, they want legal protection for their spouses, they demand equal visitation rights, they want protection from taxation and inheritance law... , those are SO against the values of the heterosexual world that they threaten the foundation of good traditional family.

And it is also against traditional, conservative, family-orientated Asian values to accord this basic human rights to the shameful gay people, and this should never be the norm in the East.

Let the gay people in the West continue to rot in decadence. We should continue to let our "Asian" local, traditional, religious and cultural factors to continue to push gay people into shame, silence and isolation. Ooh, by the way, which "Asian" religion and "Asian" law are you talking about?

Have a good day.

with regards

Espion said...

Dear anonymous,

I do not think you read very well.

Ignoring your trifles, I just want to reiterate my main point, ie what is the relevance of Western gay history and evolution got to do with what happens here at home in Asia?

And I do not think anyone is blaming anyone else for whatever is naturally happening for all history, or at least I am not.

You alluded that Asian societies uncorrupted by colonisation (meaning specifically Chiristianity?) have been tolerant of alternative forms of sexuality. Thats sound fine, but has anyone documented and analysed all these somewhere? If so they will make for more relevant reading.

And also if untainted Asian values have been more humane in its conceptualisation and social accommodation of these various forms of sexuality, then should it not be rediscovered, implemented at home, and even to be exported to the indeed decadent liberal West?

Have a good day

with regards (whatever that means ...)

keatix said...

i hv yet to finish reading these various volumes of gay movements, i need a moment to digest, but i sure think u r of one publishing material. think about it mate.