THE GAY HIGH HOLIDAYS
If Halloween is gay Christmas, then Gay Pride is Easter. The time we honor all those who were sacrificed or sacrificed of themselves so that we can the live the way we do now. A life that many of us take for granted.
This past June, Danny and I took Hello Sailor TMH on the road and did our first Gay Pride event in Boston. We packed up the Subaru with boxes of tee-shirts, hoodies, etc. and set up a booth in the market tents. We didn’t know what to expect since we were practically event marketing virgins. Would people actually show up? Would our wares warrant homo recognition or would we go unnoticed?
The morning was quiet, but after the Pride Parade finished its route around noon, people started to filter into the market tents. We had a very positive response and sold more merchandise than we expected. Our “Looking for Semen” tee-shirt was a big hit. Surprisingly, we had the most positive response from lesbians. This was unexpected and opened our eyes to the needs of seafaring women. We are working on ideas to expand our line for women.
We were steadily busy but had a little time to go out amongst the crowd and mingle with our fellow homosexuals, Lesbians, Bi’s, and an astonishing number of transgendered men and women. It got me to thinking, this event is something that our gay ancestors would never have imagined. Being outrageous, fem, butch, sissy, trans – what ever – was encouraged and celebrated. We are told that the gay revolution didn’t get off the ground until the Stonewall Riots in 1969. The truth is – it started about a decade earlier in smaller, quieter protests throughout our puritanical nation. If you look at photographs from these premier events – starting in 1959, the pioneers picketing, are nothing like the topless lesbians, leather daddies, twinks in Speedos, glamorous drag queens, bears, scary nuns, etc. etc. that are common to today’s pride celebrations.
Our ancestors were much more formal in their attire. The men wore tailored suits with skinny ties, clean barber shop haircuts, hats, and Blues Brother’s shades. The women wore neat conservative skirts or dresses, back-combed hair do’s, and sensible pumps or kitten heels. It looks like they took a lunch break from their respectable jobs, and paraded around on the sidewalks carrying signs of protest.
Bitch, those well-dressed men, and women had BALLS! I wonder if I could have been that brave and stuck my head out on the chopping block for the good of the cause.
This was a time when homosexuality was diagnosed as a mental illness. If your sexuality was exposed, you could be fired from your job and most likely be ostracized by your family. You could be turned away from a restaurant if you looked gay. If you went to a bar to have drinks with your friends, you could be harassed or arrested. If you were a hustler, drag queen or trans sexual, and were arrested, you risked sexual and physical assault from police officers. This would have been viewed as acceptable and justifiable by most of the fine Christian citizens of our great land. I could go on and on about the atrocities that were inflicted on our kind, but I won’t. Needless to say, being a homosexual was something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies.
There were a handful of individuals who had finally had it and recognized the marginalization, humiliation, and injustice that was inflicted on those who dared to live life on their own terms. And they started to fight back when the odds were astonishingly against their favor.
It wasn’t an army, it was singular men and women who started chipping away at the establishment, in tiny increments. Small groups of equally outraged people started to gather in different cities and began to unite. They formed picket lines and started protest parades until they were finally noticed. They risked everything they had to make a difference. Some paid with their lives, and some went on to become the great leaders who would pave the way to life as we know it today. The right to marry the man I love was something I would have never imagined when I was growing up in bumfuck Texas – many – many moons ago.
We can take pride in who we are and how far we have come as a group of American citizens who live life on our own terms. When you meet a senior lesbian or gay man, thank them for paving the way for the freedoms that we enjoy every day. Not just on Gay Pride day.
Keep the spirit alive.
Creative Director, Hello Sailor TMH