The Last Sunday in June

I’m writing this on the last Sunday in June, which means that within a short time the annual Gay Pride Parade (also known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade) will be underway in New York City.

Eddie and I aren’t in New York City today so the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered throng, accompanied by the parents, cousins, friends, soulmates, and companions in civil rights activism who feel that the statement made by mass queer visibility every year remains an important statement to make, will have to fill up scores of blocks of Fifth Avenue without our physical assistance.

I have no doubt that New Yorkers will be up to the task.

Many germinal essays simmer in my mind today. They are filled with deeply felt passions and they want to be written right NOW, for THIS BLOG ENTRY. They are the rocks in my sandals that I don’t know how to pry out from under my heel: the parts of gay liberation that aren’t solved by the presence of Will and Grace on TV, the roiling, angering parts that remain stubbornly unfinished these several decades since the Stonewall Riots (of which I was so unlikely and substantively unhelpful a witness back in the summer of 1969).

But frustratingly, I have no time available to compose any of these today.

So I will have to let the photograph above, taken in June of 1979, serve as my symbolic Happy Gay Day greeting as well as a placeholder for commentaries I hope life lets me write in the future about the place of LGBT Americans in George W. Bush’s America — no to mention the place occupied by our LGBT cousins in various countries around the world.

The snapshot above, snapped by our friend David Hutchison at the Gay Pride Parade that took place a mere couple of months after Eddie and I first met, brings back a host of memories. Of youth. Of righteous zeal. Of excitement and camaraderie. And of the scores of friends not seen in this photograph but who were also marching on Fifth Avenue that day.

Many of them we hadn’t met yet on the day Hutch snapped this photo. Too many subsequently died in the AIDS epidemic. Hutch has died too — although it was pancreatic cancer that got him before his HIV had time to.

But many more of our friends from both that era and eras since remain alive today — to the consternation no doubt of the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, "Rev." Fred Phelps and his less obviously vicious fellow homophobes.

Those surviving friends who are still in New York and those in any number of other cities large enough to host demonstrations of this kind are likely to be participating today in the fleeting creation of temporary cities within cities in which, if only for a few exciting hours, it will be the heterosexuals who are in the minority and the gays who fill the straight folks’ fields of vision.

And we will be saying loudly once again what we seem to have to say over and over again no matter how tiring it gets to have to repeat the obvious decade after decade: We’re here. Qe’re queer. Get Used to it.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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0 Responses to The Last Sunday in June

  1. bodefan says:

    Nice, Howard. As I wandered around Pride on Saturday with a group of high school students that study with me every summer for college credit, I found myself musing about how far we’ve come. Of the 9 students that came along, only three were gay, and all had a great time. It’s odd to think of a once volatile event like Pride becoming our version of a county fair, but it’s also good- shows that even though we still have a lot of work to do, we have made some progress.
    best from Minneapolis,
    Diana

  2. Leela says:

    Aw, what a cute picture! And I love the comic. I can’t believe you stumbled onto the Stonewall riot while tripping your ass off…that’s hilarious.

    I happened to have a class near Fifth Avenue this afternoon, and I managed to catch a gigantic, fabulous pirate ship float, absolutely full of dancing men and women, sailing down the avenue just before I got on the F train to go back to quieter Brooklyn. It made me so happy. Happy Gay Day!

  3. mthomases says:

    You guys look so cute — young and in love. That’s why we’ll win — youth and beauty and love and lust beats old and ugly and nasty, even when they’re rich.

  4. What a wonderful photo.

    I haven’t been to a Pride celebration in some years, I’m embarrassed to admit. I used to love going to Pride in Northampton; maybe next year I’ll make it back. It’s not like going to NYC, obviously, but I’ve always found it has a delightful western-Mass charm. *g*

  5. RBAK says:

    Howard —

    So perfect to get your message pointing to the blog entry, especially since I got it about five minutes into the Prism Comics board meeting at which we’re planning the “gay agenda” for San Diego Comic-Con…

    The picture brought back some memories, for sure — I’m not sure if I first met you at that parade or the next year’s — I met Eddie at the Switchboard that year.

    I’m not sure if we’re going to get to the parade here in Seattle today — David’s teaching a church kid session on writing musicals, then we’re going to the symphony, of all things — but we started with the Seattle Men’s Chorus concert last night (David down front singing and playing bass).

    Wishing you the best of what Ernie Lijoi calls “the closest thing to a holy day as I have in my life.”

    — Roger K.

  6. Hear! Hear!

    We completely missed the gay pride in our town. Although it was so badly organized last years that we were not that motivated to go.

    Oh well, as usual, politicians left and right have done their best to show us how gay-friendly they are. But of course, no real action before next year’s presidential election next year here in France.