The Evolution of Gay rights in America (Reflection of class included at bottom of page)
Homosexuality has always existed within all cultures. My thesis is to outline the events the lead up to current gay rights and how past events have contributed to where homosexual rights are headed and how they relate to other countries in the world. There is quite a bit to cover, so I will choose as many main events to provide my outline. I will begin as far back as, Ancient Egypt; there were two men who served as Manicurists to the king who were buried embracing each other. Many homosexual depictions can be found including the work of British artist, Aubrey Beardsley’s who illustrated Oscar Wildes play, Salome in 1893. His black and white erotic artwork has helped to elicit such profound homosexual and hermaphroditic characteristics of artwork in the 19th century. Lesbian Mormon poet, May Swenson lived from (1919-1989) and presented an array of deeply passionate love poems. Accused homosexuals in Nazi Germany were made to wear a inverted pink triangle, while regular criminals wore green, red triangles were worn by political prisoners and two overlapping yellow triangles for Jews.
Furthermore, in the United States; Alfred Kinsey published his book in 1948, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.” Gay liberation movement began in 1960. Subsequently gays and lesbians alike created a mythology and discussed the history of homosexuality and its origins. Discovering that many homosexuals spent time isolated with an unclear perception of who they were or why they felt the way they did. This movement helped structure the growth of the gay and lesbian community. In 1962, “Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.”
On the morning of June, 28th 1969 a New York City riot broke out involving the gay and lesbian community and the Greenwich Village Police. This uprising originally broke out due to consistent police raids and the control over freedoms of expression and sexuality, which was largely unaccepted at the time. Many homosexual and transgender people were consistently beaten and harassed on a consistent basis. Stonewall Inn, was owned by the mafia at the time and was open to the lesser welcomed walks of life including gays, lesbians and transgender folks alike. Law enforcement would routinely raid bars such as Stonewall Inn, both parties used force against each other resulting in many tragedies and has made a sizable indent within the history of homosexual American history. A Novel written by transgender activist Leslie Feinburg called, Stone Butch Blues which depicts events that took place before the stonewall riots. Shortly following the Stonewall Riots, on November 1969, a man called Craig Rodell and his partner proposed the first Gay Pride parade which took place in NYC.
In 1972, a man named, Harvey Milk moved from New York to San Francisco, CA. He became involved in politics and was working toward equal rights for all. Subsequently, He became city supervisor in 1977, and worked achieving the gay rights ordinance. On November, 27th 1978 Harvey Milk was assassinated by former city supervisor, Dan white and Greg Moscone. The Castro in San Francisco has now become one of the most famously homosexual populated districts in the United States. It is sort of the ground zero in gay rights history, along-side Greenwich Village in NYC.
Thanks to situations and influences such as Stonewall, Harvey Milk and the birth of the Gay Pride Parades, gay rights of homosexuals have evolved immensely. With the help of NOW, PFLAG, and the Human Right Campaign (HRC) Heterosexual America has come to notice the commonalties of homosexuals and the persecution they have endured since this time and have become more accepting. People like Harvey Milk have influenced and paved a path for the future homosexual and transgender. The strength and bravery of the fellow GLBT community has also played a significant role; Coming out of the closet and standing up for queer and human rights for all, regardless of the outcome.
Education not only within the homosexual community, but within the heterosexual community has taught us that there is no difference between how we love and who we love as human beings, as long as love exists regardless of its depiction or its sexual content, it is presented as a form of compassion and in depth emotions, which cannot be negotiated or made into a perversion by American society. Knowing someone who is homosexual has shaped the view and outlook society had in the past regarding sexuality as well as the AIDS epidemic, which depicted all homosexuals diseased as perverts during its debarkation. Now, with more knowledge and facts constantly rising, American society no longer see AIDS as a “gay problem” but a Universal problem for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
After hate crime legislation was passed we now have rights of employment regardless of gender and sexual orientation, however still are working toward rights for all, which are inclusive to Transgender Americans who still battle for their rights to their rightful identity F2M or M2F, certain documents are not provided reflecting their new gender, which still results in harassment issues at the DMV, when applying for a job and other realms.
However, this provides a new outlook on homosexual and transgender America, because it proves homosexuals and trans-genders in the workforce makes no difference in the productivity of the individual person. GLBT rights have reached heightened awareness’s in many within the United States
Finally on May, 17th 2004 Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize gay marriage, which progressed to additional states, such as, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Washington, Hawaii and Maryland to allow gay marriage and is currently evolving.
I believe that GLBT rights have progressed so much within the past 100 years, the only way to go is forward and I believe that within my lifetime I will see this drastically continue to unfold. It seems that right-winged Christian fundamentalists have always been the first to complain about same-sex marriage, or gay and transgender rights because of its effect on family values and the Christian agenda. Fearing that if gays were to get married, or be able to work as teachers (as Wendy Weaver who taught P.E. at Spanish Fork High School once experienced) will no longer be dismissed and society seems to be coming around to the idea that homosexual America is just like everyone else. We eat, sleep and go to work and deserve to keep our jobs as teachers, or whatever field we are in and to get married and raise a child or children like anyone else. As more and more civil rights laws are passed and society see’s homosexual Americans evolve and notice that nothing is changing, they are likely to take a breath of fresh air and relax knowing that nothing is really changing for them personally. I think we will see a completely diverse and 100% free society for all within the next 100 years. Just like slavery we will look back on it and say to ourselves, “Wow, did that really happen?” It seems so long ago.
When thinking about the rights of Homosexuals in America and how we relate to other countries, we have to notice places like Iran, where two Iranian teenagers were hanged in 2005 for being gay and that over 4,000 gays and lesbians have been executed in Iran since 1979. Kind of doesn’t make prop 8 look that bad. Religion in my opinion has a great deal to do with the outcome of these decisions and why homosexuality is punishable to such extremely bastardized moral standards. Comparable to Iran it doesn’t look too bad; however hate crimes against homosexuals here in America do exist.
December, 31st 1993 a Female to Male Transgender male was raped, then shot and killed in Nebraska when he was 21 years old. October, 6th 1998 a 21 year old homosexual male, who attended University of Wyoming and lived in Laramie, was torture and murdered because of his sexuality and so-called “Gay panic” as quoted by Aaron McKenny, one of the men who tortured and murdered him. On July 5th 1999, there was the beating to death of Barry Winchell who was serving in the Military and was in a romantic relationship with a Male to Female transgendered woman, Calpernia Addams. He was beaten with a bat and died shortly after for being homosexual, though he never claimed to be such.
Americans and homosexuality as compared to other countries is doing pretty well, compared to places like Iran, Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen or Mauretania where homosexuality is still punishable by death. However, places like Sweden, which was the first country to illuminate homosexual acts as illegal. Places as well, Australia, civil union is recognized, United Kingdom homosexuals are treated as equal, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Estonia all provide equal rights for homosexuals.
In conclusion, with majority of the countries in the world being acceptable towards homosexual rights, I don’t fear that the United States is that far off. We could always be one of the worse off, and completely repressed. I am optimistic that hate crimes against homosexuals will, though may not completely diminish, they will definitely be reduced by profound percentages. So far, history has taught us one thing, and that is, we are always getting better, moving forward and evolving, I don’t foresee the United States doing anything in reverse and am grateful to those who risked their lives, gave their lives and live their lives today onward proud of who they are and the history the evolved from. It is each individual sacrifice, and bravery to be who they are and love who they love that has gotten us this far.
*Work Cited page presented upon request.
Film and Culture Reflection-
In this class, I was able to utilize critical thinking skills and enhance my ability to reason and think logically. The films we were presented with and discussed in class provided an opportunity to take a person out of their comfort zone and into a place where they were forced to evaluate topics we normally do not think about or situations we are normally not faced with and put together information based on facts and factual events, also definitions of what was discussed and reiteration of topics. We had to write in a blog regarding the films we watched and compare them to alternative films, which provided insight on both sides of the spectrum, This was nice because it allowed each student to think critically and to take themselves outside of their normal way of thinking. It also provided us with information in regards to how films are shot, which angles and why they are shot that way. The book provided a lot of information to help with research and boost knowledge, our in class discussions grew more and more toward the end of the semester and by the last discussion everyone was engaged and thinking critically, bouncing ideas off of each other and forming logical opinions about the final topic and why people react to things the way they do. I believe this class has shaped everyone’s opinions on cultural and societies issues in a different direction from that of what they were before. This professor provided us with the opportunity to unveil ourselves from what Hollywood film reveal to us and to take them at face value, with evidence as to why they are this way. We as a class together and individually came to our own conclusions based on information we revealed to ourselves and our classmates after researching the topics discussed. In conclusion, this was a great class very informative.