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|Pride’s history is our future|
|by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|June 25, 2010 00:00|
Some 41 years ago this weekend, a ragtag group of gay street youth, drag queens, dykes and transgender people fought back against a police raid at New York City’s Stonewall Inn.
The 1969 uprising is widely viewed as launching the modern gay rights movement, igniting a more radical approach than the fledgling “homophile” movement that was already quietly underway.
By the next June, cities began hosting rallies and celebrations to mark the anniversary of Stonewall, creating the Gay Pride events that continue to this day.
Now, some 40 years later, there are so many Gay Pride events that not all are held the last weekend in June. Some are held on adjacent weekends to allow attendees the chance to go to several; others are held throughout the year at times more convenient for those local communities.
After decades of being held on the anniversary of Stonewall, Atlanta Pride is now one of those other Prides — the official festival is scheduled for Oct. 9-10, after being held over Halloween last year.
But the spirit of Pride Month continues in Atlanta Stonewall Week, and in other recent and upcoming Pride celebrations throughout the state.
In this issue, we pay tribute to the history of Stonewall and Pride Month around the nation. Look for the rainbow Pride Month logo on these stories, and be sure to visit our website for photos and video from Pride and Stonewall Week events.
Our A&E section begins with a review of “Stonewall Uprising,” a new documentary about the riots that plays at Midtown Arts Cinema this week, with several special discussions scheduled as part of Stonewall Week.
The “Stonewall Uprising” feature includes an interview with David Carter, a native of Jesup, Ga., and Emory University graduate who wrote “Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution,” the book on which the film is based.
Atlanta’s Stonewall Week got underway July 19 with the massive, hilarious East Point Possums show, and you’ll find photos and coverage of that event in our Community section.
Additional Stonewall Week events for Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26, including the Pride Run and a community brunch, rally and picnic, can be found in our Best Bets calendar.
You can also read all about the first-ever Augusta Pride, which drew a crowd of thousands last weekend, and the upcoming Marietta Rainbow Festival, which is set for July 24 and will be the first Pride event for that Georgia city.
In our interview this week about the importance of Stonewall, David Carter makes the point that we need a common knowledge of our history to shape our identity as an LGBT people and culture.
“Think of it: is there any important group identity that does not involve a common narrative? And does not that narrative then give the group a key part of its meaning?” Carter asks.
“If we do not know our history, how can we ask others to take our history, and therefore us as a community, seriously?”
Unlike other minority groups, LGBT people often have to seek out our own history.
“After all, we are not like Jews or blacks or Hispanics or most other groups who are born into a family of the same kind and are taught about this critical part of our identity and meaning by our parents,” Carter notes. “And since our sexual orientation is so important to us as a people whom the world has not yet chosen to embrace, I think this kind of positive cultural identity is all the more important.”
I agree completely with Carter, and yet I am also struck by an image that appeared in the Sunday issue of the Augusta Chronicle, accompanying a mediocre story on the historic Pride festival that gave far too much weight to the handful of protesters, who were outnumbered by Pride supporters by a ratio of approximately 350 to 1.
The photo shows a little girl in a sundress, blond pigtails streaming, joyfully waving a rainbow flag as the parade passes by.
The child is my five-year-old daughter, who was snapped by a Chronicle photographer while I took pictures for the Georgia Voice.
I have no idea if she, or any of the many other children at Augusta Pride, will grow up to be gay or straight, and it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that they are already learning the history, and celebrating the freedom, that has been denied to so many for so long.
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