Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. From their depictions in ancient myth (that are brought to life on the silver screen in modern retellings) to the less-sensational, yet stirring biopics of sometimes seemingly mythical, but actual flesh and blood persons who have helped shape our world, there is certainly no shortage of heroic women and men. Chances are, however, that it is the unsung hero that has likely had the most impact on our lives. And for many of us, but sadly not all, those first heroes might be our mothers and fathers or other guardians, who first lovingly nurtured us.
As we grew from infancy and expanded our horizons by venturing out into the world, through school and other social functions, we found that the heroes in our lives increased; there were teachers, athletes, musicians, or other artists who held that honor. As we got even older, there may have even been heroes who had a more spiritual or political influence in our lives (I am reminded, with a smile, of Alex P. Keaton’s near worship of President Ronald Reagan on “Family Ties”).
Each of these heroes filled a need for a specific time in our lives. And regardless of whether they were fictional or real, they all had something in common: the ability to inspire, each in their own unique way, helping us muddle through the trials and tribulations (and sometimes just the mundanity) of life.
Fifty years ago this month, an event occurred that changed the course of American, even world, history. A group of women and men, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, and their supporters, engaged in a protest that would come to symbolize the fight against oppression and discrimination that had been the lot of those identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. June, known by the LGBTQ community as “Pride Month,” celebrates the collective contribution these brave heroes embarked on in the infancy of this fight for equality. Their protests, induced by chronic police raids on establishments that catered to the gay community, including the Stonewall Inn, were admittedly far from peaceful. But these heroes had reached the tipping point. Reacting to what they viewed as injustice, they echoed the words of Popeye of cartoon fame: "That's all I can stands - I can't stands no more!"
It wasn’t solely at the Stonewall Inn that these heroes had to face oppression and discrimination. Sadly, for most, it was a daily occurrence, happening in their families, their workplaces, their places of worship, and from the government. “Don’t tell,” rather than “don’t ask, don’t tell,” was likely how these heroes who had been silenced by societal and legal norms managed to live day-to-day. Many Americans have never had to face such dire circumstances.
Still, the fight didn’t end fifty years ago… it is ongoing. And contrary to some commentary, no person that is LGBTQ wants more protections or rights than their straight brothers and sisters. They seek the same legal assurances so that:
· They can live their lives authentically, be themselves and love whomever they love, without fear of verbal or bodily harm.
· They no longer have to fear being denied housing, being fired from employment or losing healthcare benefits. MERELY FOR BEING WHO THEY ARE.
am deeply indebted to those patrons of Stonewall and their supporters, as well
as the multitudes of other brave women and men who, prior to and after
Stonewall, have risked their freedom (and sometimes their lives) to live
authentically. Because of these heroes, the world I inherited is a bit more
tolerant, accepting and safe. But, as we
know from daily news headlines, the fight is far from over: There is a long struggle ahead in this fight
as we seek equality for all.
“It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Todd AKA ExpandedMind
**Image from https://heartlandpride.org/2019pride/