Gay Pride Parades on Stonewall Anniversary Marred by Controversy

This past weekend gay pride marches were held across the country on the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which broke out after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar. In the 1960s, raids on gay bars were common, but the riots resulting from the raid of the Stonewall Inn are considered to have sparked the modern gay rights movement. Thirteen were arrested on the night of the raid and protests continued for an additional three nights. In San Francisco, the celebrations during the cities 40th annual gay pride parade were marred by the murder of 19-year-old Stephen Powell and the shooting injury of two other individuals, reported the Los Angeles Times. San Francisco Police Officer Phil Gordon told the San Francisco Chronicle that the department’s investigation showed the incident “was definitely not a hate crime.’ Police suspect the shooting was gang-related and two individuals are in custody, reported the Advocate. In New York City, St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, has marched in the city’s parade for 12 years. However, this year, they marched under a blank banner. The church’s priest was concerned that their participation suggested approval of not only gay rights, but also of promiscuity. Many were outraged that the church effectively removed their name from association with the parade. One parishioner, Stephanie Samoy, a self-identified lesbian, told CNN, “For me, the blank banner stands for, ‘We’ve been silenced.'” New York City’s parade included a number of notable grand marshals including Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager, who fought her school district for the right to attend the school’s prom with her girlfriend; Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq army veteran who has worked to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; and the mother of Matthew Sheppard, who has fought for gay rights since her son was brutally murdered in a 1998 hate crime, reported New York Daily News. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, there was some protest over the position of Will Phillips, a 10-year-old who is known for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because of anti-gay discrimination, as the grand marshal of the gay pride parade there. According to the Advocate Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association said, “He’s obviously just parroting the nonsense he’s been told by manipulative adults.” Wildmon also called Phillips’ position in the parade “a form of child abuse.” For many, the parades were an opportunity for self-expression and festivity. San Francisco Pride Executive Director Amy Andre pointed out to the Los Angeles Times that the fight for equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people has had significant growth since the 1970s. Melissa Rodriguez, told the New York Times Daily, “It’s like a celebration of being who you are, of being yourself – no judging.”


Los Angeles Times 6/27/10; New York Daily News 6/28/10; Advocate.com 6/23/10, 6/27/10; CNN 6/27/10; San Francisco Chronicle 6/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 6/30/10

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