We celebrate all kinds of things in this country; Birthdays, superbowls, mid-week happy hours and good grade-point averages. Many acknowledge and pay respect to a pivotal historical moment or sentiment, many are simply an exotic spice to dress up the bread and butter realities of everyday life. And then there are the moments when these two worlds collide; a celebration rooted in historical relevance that over time becomes…..well, whatever you want it to.
As I made my way through the sea of people to the StoryCorps booth at the gay pride celebration, I kept thinking ‘If I didn’t understand what this celebration is about, I would be mighty confused right about now’.
I didn’t realize until later that I, in fact, had no idea what the celebration is actually about.
A little backround: in 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar on Christopher Street in Manhattan. In response to this seemingly unprovoked attack, protestors rioted for several days after. This is widely considered to be the event that unified and accelerated the gay rights movement. But like so many other celebrations, it is easy to miss the historical implications of the day and focus simply on the excesses of the moment.
But in looking beyond the bright colors, far-out get ups and cheap beer lies a very real, tangible energy that has nurtured hope and provided community to so many. The gay pride celebration is no longer simply a commemoration of a single past event, it is a reminder to everyone that the future has more struggles in store on the road to equality. And it couldn’t have been a better place for StoryCorps to have been. If there were ever voices that need to be heard, they are the thousands upon thousands of people who were crammed into downtown San Francisco to celebrate the causes of justice, social equality and freedom of expression.
StoryCorps was lucky to have been a part of the gay pride festivities. Thanks to our partnership with the Contemporary Jewish Museum, we were able to reach out to a host of people in the LGBTQ community who would have never heard of StoryCorps otherwise. A big thank you goes out to all who came out in support of such a worthy cause.
StoryCorps is working to launch a new initiative, StoryCorps OutLoud (storycorps.org/outloud), in order to capture even more stories from the LGBTQ community. Be sure to make a reservation at our San Francisco StoryBooth and come tell your story!