Reading about the Stonewall Riots on its fiftieth anniversary makes me feel a mixture of emotions. It’s great that something life-changing for so many people, Gay Liberation, came out of a moment when a smallish group of young put-upon homosexuals thought enough is enough and then turned their fury on a clearly homophobic police force. Bravo! It was great that it didn’t just clear the air for a brief moment, it truly made a difference and led to the foundation of Gay Liberation and the many Gay Pride Parades that are held at this time all around the world. Bravo!
Those events had a direct influence on the liberalisation of sexual politics and attitudes all across North America and Western Europe – bravo! It is a reminder, maybe a painful one, that for social change to happen, people have usually had to take to the streets and, yes, at times, riot. It made a difference fifty years ago. Shame on the Western world though, that it had to be thus, before ideas about same-sex equality could fight its way into the statute books. Bravo though for the many changes that have taken place since then. Let’s hope that this progress will continue until gender, in all its manifestations, ceases to be a matter of censure, scorn and the less than discrete rolling of eyes. But, bravo! progress is progress.
If only it was the same story in the 72 countries where homosexuality is still illegal – and where the old, old story of prejudice, hatred and violence is a daily horror for many people who still share the pre-Stonewall world.
These are the countries that still prosecute homosexuals – it is a list of shame:
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines