Growing up in the 1950's I never heard a mention of something called homosexuality. In the 1960's when I hit puberty, I hit it like a brick wall at a hundred miles per hour, and still not having ever heard of being 'queer', I simply followed my own instincts. One of my instincts was to tell all my little friends of my new found discovery. That, in retrospect, might have been a mistake. I thought I had just invented this thing and that adults didn't know a thing about what I was feeling. It wasn't until seventh grade when a kid at school named Tom, asked me if I was a homosexual that I got a clue. "A what, a who, what is that?". Imagine my shock when I learned that I had not invented a new kind of human relationship. I couldn't copyright it, I couldn't patent it. Somebody had already done it, thousands of years before.
My friend Rudy, who is eighty one years old, likes to tell me stories about when he went to gay bars back in the nineteen fifties and sixties. He says that guys would go into a club and try to meet somebody as fast as possible and get out, because the longer you lingered in a bar the more you exposed yourself to the risk of arrest. You see back then the police considered being gay illegal and would raid bars, and arrest the patrons, and if you got arrested your name would be published and you could lose everything. This was condoned by the government authorities, and the public at large. That is until June 27th, 1969, when a group of gays in New York City fought back after a police raid at the Stonewall Tavern. It is that point in time, when gay men and women stood up and demanded their right to exist as tax paying, law abiding citizens, without harassment by the state, that we celebrate every year during June, all around the world.
Wilton Manors, Florida, is no exception, and so Saturday night we all got together for our annual party on the main street through town. The best part about it, is that it included many elected officials, and the police actually participated, not just as traffic control, but as entries in the parade. Hell, our town and parade are so all inclusive, that we even had an entry from the 'Log Cabin Republicans', a group of gay Republicans. Sure it consisted of five, lonely, gray haired men carrying a banner, with nobody within twenty feet of them, but they were there.