Tuesday July 22 , 2014

GAY CULTURE

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click on the rainbow flag above to learn some facts

as to where the rainbow flag for LGBT' came from

 

 

 

 
The LGBT CULTURE is strong and goes back throughout the existance of mankind.  With new laws in most western countries protecting those of  the LGBT communities,  we must not forget our roots and those who still struggle against homophobia from the state,  like Iran and Russia.  Our own struggle for acceptance goes on and only through correct and propper education, can a society ever move forward into a more enlightened way of life. 

The story below about Stonewall makes compelling reading  and mis a very enlightening and  thought provoking pie
ce.  It is several pages long but well worth the time.

 

25 March 2013 Last updated at 01:25

The gay airman who took on the US military

By Naveena Kottoor BBC World Service
Leonard Matlovich reading about himself in Time magazine

In 1975 an air force sergeant made history when he came out, to challenge the ban on homosexuals in the US military. Leonard Matlovich became a figurehead for gay rights, but he could not have foreseen that in 2013 the US Supreme Court would be considering whether to overturn a ban on same-sex marriages.

"It just tears me apart on the inside," Matlovich said in his first national TV interview in May 1975. "My conscience just wouldn't let me do it any more. I had to come forward and say: No more, America!"

Matlovich was the kind of serviceman the air force prided itself on. He had voluntarily served three tours of duty in Vietnam. He had been injured while clearing landmines and was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star medal.

At the time, David Addlestone was working as a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union and had been looking for a gay soldier who would put himself forward to challenge the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.

"He was the perfect test case," says Addlestone, who hoped Matlovich's excellent military record might make the air force think twice about applying the ban.

Addlestone warned Matlovich, nonetheless, that he was likely to be discharged and "throw away 13 years of military service and a pension". But "Leonard said he couldn't live a lie" any longer, Addlestone recalls.

Matlovich had only come to terms with his homosexuality two years earlier, at the age of 30. Both his parents were deeply religious and politically conservative - his father had also served in the air force - and Matlovich was a devout Catholic himself.

"We were very much a 'What do the neighbours think of me?' type of family," says his niece Vicky Walker. "We had to do everything the right way. We were not even allowed to drink soda. My grandfather was very strict - loving but strict."

According to Michael Bedwell - a gay rights activist who became a close friend and flatmate for several years - Matlovich knew from an early age that he was "different".

Leonard Matlovich holding his Purple Heart Leonard Matlovich was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam

"He was self-loathing primarily because of his religious and conservative upbringing," says Bedwell.

"Leonard even admitted to me that one of the reasons why he had kept on volunteering for Vietnam was because he had a subconscious death wish - suicide by war... thoughts he regretted very much later."

Bedwell says it was only when Matlovich started visiting gay bars and meeting positive gay role models, such as a lesbian bank executive, that he finally came to terms with his homosexuality.

"He started meeting people who were different to the stereotypes he grew up with, people who were contributing to society," says Bedwell.

Matlovich had accepted that he was gay, but he had not come out except to a close circle of friends, not even to his own family.

By that time, Matlovich was working as a race-relations instructor in the air force, a role introduced in response to the civil rights movement.

"In Vietnam he had met black soldiers and started questioning the racism he grew up with," says Bedwell, who believes these experiences prompted Matlovich to come out to his superiors.

"Leonard had been taught that the United States was the land of the free," says Bedwell. "He realised that in the same way our country had once been wrong in denying those freedoms to people of colour, it was wrong to deny them to gay people."

Matlovich wrote a letter to his commanding officer, revealing his homosexuality and asking for an exception to be made because of his service record.

The officer "looked at it and said: 'Just tear it up and we will forget it.' But Leonard refused," remembers Addlestone.

The air force responded by starting a discharge procedure.

Bedwell says Matlovich had by then come out to his mother, who had pleaded with her son not to tell his father, out of fear he would blame her. "She thought she had done something wrong," says Bedwell. "She encouraged Leonard to see a psychiatrist."

But Addlestone wanted to make the case public, so in 1975 on Memorial Day - a day of remembrance for those who have died in US service - Matlovich gave an interview to the New York Times.

Leonard Matlovich in uniform

An interview on CBS TV news was to follow that evening, so Matlovich decided to come out to his father, but when he called home, his father had already found out from the media.

"His father's reaction was very emotional," says Bedwell. "He went into the bedroom and cried. But he came out and said: 'If he can take it. I can.'"

More interviews followed and in September 1975, just before the discharge hearing was to start, he became the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, declaring: "I am a homosexual".

"He had become a poster boy for gay rights," says Bedwell. "He became a hero particularly to those in the military. I remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated and I remember where I was when I saw when Matlovich was on Time magazine."

Addlestone says Matlovich's media appearances had a big effect on America. "He was a patriotic, conservative middle-class war hero. He destroyed the popular myth of homosexuality."

Bedwell adds: "He was very unassuming, not the stereotypical homosexual."

Matlovich was soon ruled unfit for service. He was recommended for a general, or less-than-honourable discharge, but eventually granted an honourable one.

He appealed and five years later, following a protracted legal process, a judge ordered that Matlovich be reinstated and promoted. The air force offered Matlovich a financial settlement and, convinced they would find some other reason to discharge him if he re-entered the service, he accepted.

Addlestone says members of the gay community had urged Matlovich to go back to the air force, so this was a tough choice to make.

Leonard Matlovich's grave at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC

Matlovich got involved in other gay rights causes and opened a restaurant. Addlestone says his former client also attracted what he calls gay groupies. "People wanted to hang out and have sex with him," he says.

In 1986 he was diagnosed as being HIV positive. The following year he made a second startling public statement, revealing during a TV interview that he had the condition.

"I saw him in Washington DC when he was dying of Aids," Addlestone says. "He had no regrets - had reconciled with this father - the only problem he had was that he was a celebrity. He was very much a humble human being."

He died in June 1988 - 25 years ago, all but a few weeks.

His gravestone at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington bears the inscription: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

Michael Bedwell was interviewed on the BBC World Service programme Witness.

 

 


What Does It Mean To Be Proud - A History of Gay Pride

CLICK HERE

 

 

 




STONEWALL






 


John Bellamy Comment:  

' I watched a late night programme all about Stonewall recently and it did make me cry. I found myself cheering on the girls and guys who fought so hard and put up with so much that many in the modern generation  have absolutely no idea about-  and I was dearly moved.'

 


The Stonewall Inn, located at 51 and 53 Christopher Street, along with several other establishments in the city, was owned by the Genovese family. In 1966, three members of the Mafia invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff; the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license. It had no running water behind the bar—used glasses were run through tubs of water and immediately reused. There were no fire exits, and the toilets overran consistently. Though the bar was not used for prostitution, drug sales and other "cash transactions" took place. It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

Visitors to the Stonewall in 1969 were greeted by a bouncer who inspected them through a peephole in the door. The legal drinking age was 18, and to avoid unwittingly letting in undercover police (who were called "Lily Law", "Alice Blue Gown", or "Betty Badge", visitors would have to be known by the doorman, or look gay.

The entrance fee on weekends was $3, for which the customer received two tickets that could be exchanged for two drinks. Patrons were required to sign their names in a book to prove that the bar was a private "bottle club", but rarely signed their real names.


There were two dance floors in the Stonewall; the interior was painted black, making it very dark inside, with pulsing gel lights or black lights. If police were spotted, regular white lights were turned on, signaling that everyone should stop dancing or touching. In the rear of the bar was a smaller room frequented by "queens"; it was one of two bars where effeminate men who wore makeup and teased their hair (though dressed in men's clothing) could go. Only a few transvestites, or men in full drag, were allowed in by the bouncers. The customers were "98 percent male" but a few lesbians sometimes came to the bar. Younger homeless adolescent males, who slept in nearby Christopher Park, would often try to get in so customers would buy them drinks. The age range of the clientele was between the upper teens and early thirties, and the racial mix was evenly distributed among white, black, and Hispanic Because of its even mix of people, its location, and the attraction of dancing, the Stonewall Inn was known by many as "the gay bar in the city".

Police raids on gay bars were frequent—occurring on average once a month for each bar. Many bars kept extra liquor in a secret panel behind the bar, or in a car down the block, to facilitate resuming business as quickly as possible if alcohol was seized.
Bar management usually knew about raids beforehand due to police tip-offs, and raids occurred early enough in the evening that business could commence after the police had finished.

During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, and customers were lined up and their identification cards checked. Those without identification or dressed in full drag were arrested; others were allowed to leave. Some of the men, including those in drag, used their draft cards as identification. Women were required to wear three pieces of feminine clothing, and would be arrested if found not wearing them. Employees and management of the bars were also typically arrested.

The period immediately before June 28, 1969 was marked by frequent raids of local bars—including a raid at the Stonewall Inn on the Tuesday before the riots—and the closing of the Checkerboard, the Tele-Star, and two other clubs in Greenwich Village.


Riots:

At 1:20 in the morning on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn's double doors and announced "Police! We're taking the place!"

Two undercover policewomen and two undercover policemen had entered the bar earlier that evening to gather visual evidence, as the Public Morals Squad waited outside for the signal. Once inside, they called for backup from the Sixth Precinct using the bar's pay telephone. The music was turned off and the main lights were turned on. Approximately 200 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors. Michael Fader remembered, "Things happened so fast you kind of got caught not knowing. All of a sudden there were police there and we were told to all get in lines and to have our identification ready to be led out of the bar."

The raid did not go as planned. Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar. Maria Ritter, who was known as Steve to her family, recalled, "My biggest fear was that I would get arrested. My second biggest fear was that my picture would be in a newspaper or on a television report in my mother's dress!"

Both patrons and police recalled that a sense of discomfort spread very quickly, spurred by police who began to assault some of the lesbians by "feeling some of them up inappropriately" while frisking them.

The police were to transport the bar's alcohol in patrol wagons.   Twenty-eight cases of beer and nineteen bottles of hard liquor were seized, but the patrol wagons had not yet arrived, so patrons were required to wait in line for about 15 minutes. Those who were not arrested were released from the front door, but they did not leave quickly as usual. Instead, they stopped outside and a crowd began to grow and watch. Within minutes, between 100 and 150 people had congregated outside, some after they were released from inside the Stonewall, and some after noticing the police cars and the crowd. Although the police forcefully pushed or kicked some patrons out of the bar, some customers released by the police performed for the crowd by posing and saluting the police in an exaggerated fashion. The crowd's applause encouraged them further: "Wrists were limp, hair was primped, and reactions to the applause were classic."

When the first patrol wagon arrived, Inspector Pine recalled that the crowd—most of whom were homosexual—had grown to at least ten times the number of people who were arrested, and they all became very quiet..

Confusion over radio communication delayed the arrival of a second wagon. The police began escorting Mafia members into the first wagon, to the cheers of the bystanders. Next, regular employees were loaded into the wagon. A bystander shouted, "Gay power!", someone began singing "We Shall Overcome", and the crowd reacted with amusement and general good humor mixed with "growing and intensive hostility".An officer shoved a transvestite, who responded by hitting him on the head with her purse as the crowd began to boo. Author Edmund White, who had been passing by, recalled, "Everyone's restless, angry, and high-spirited. No one has a slogan, no one even has an attitude, but something's brewing." Pennies, then beer bottles, were thrown at the wagon as a rumor spread through the crowd that patrons still inside the bar were being beaten.

A scuffle broke out when a woman in handcuffs was escorted from the door of the bar to the waiting police wagon several times. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting, for about ten minutes. Described as "a typical New York butch" and "a dyke—stone butch", she had been hit on the head by an officer with a billy club for, as one witness claimed, complaining that her handcuffs were too tight. Bystanders recalled that the woman, whose identity remains unknown, sparked the crowd to fight when she looked at bystanders and shouted, "Why don't you guys do something?" After an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the wagon,the crowd became a mob and went "berserk": "It was at that moment that the scene became explosive".

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