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Is the Prop 8 Protest Stonewall 2.0?

We quite rightly credit the Stonewall Riots as being the catalyst for the surge of queer political energy that blew “The love that dare not speak its name” out of its closet and into the streets, the living rooms, the workplaces and the political halls of America.  

The story of that bar full of queers standing up and fighting for their right to be treated as full citizens galvanized GLBT people, especially the young, across the land.  Inspired, these young folks organized themselves into a fluid movement with no hierarchy and a simple mission; to fight discrimination against GLBT folks wherever it was found.

That movement turned out to be successful beyond the wildest dreams of those early days.  But one must keep in mind that those dreamers were the product of their time.  The wild eyed pipe dreams of the early 70's are now simply life as usual for the queers of the 21st Century.  After nearly 40 years of advancement the sense of urgency had dulled, we had become complacent.

Then along came Prop 8.  (continued after the fold) 



If we had learned anything in the 4 decades from 1969 to 2008 it was that time was on our side.  It was that sense of inevitability that allowed us, for the most part, to stand on the sidelines with barely a whimper while state after state banned same sex marriage.  We were willing to wait, we thought.

Yet the reaction to our ballot loss in California is so, so much different.  As I write this it has been 8 days since we learned we lost and there have been 8 days of protests.  We are streaming into the streets not only across California, but across the whole country.  No whimpers here.  It is a full throated roar.   We were played, and we are angry not only at those who played us, but at ourselves for allowing it to happen.

So the Prop 8 backers may have won that particular battle, but by doing so they awakened the spirit of Stonewall in us all.  They have awakened that same righteous anger and call to arms that changed what might have been just another routine police raid on a homosexual bar in June of 1969 into a piece of history.

As jonpincus points out in the excellent diary “Join the Impact: taking social network activism (and LGBTQ rights) to the next level” today's young queers aren't limited by 1970 technology.  No ditto machines or black dial phones for this crowd.  This is the generation who grew up with a mouse and a keyboard in their hands.  And man, have they been using  those techno-tools!  Literally hundreds of thousands of feet have hit the pavement in the past few days, and hundreds of thousands more will have before the week is up.  And every one of those people who were able to march, and the 10 more he or she represents who wasn't able to be there in person, now OWN this movement.  It has become personal to them the same way that Stonewall became personal to us in the years immediately following the riots.  We owe the Mormon and the Catholic churches a word of thanks.  They just spent millions of dollars making activists out of our complacent, distracted community.  Really, thanks.  Welcome to Stonewall 2.0



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Paul In SF

Paul In SF