June is the month set aside to celebrate LGBT+ Pride and history. This stems from the fact that the Stonewall Riot occurred in June 1969. These riots developed from a group of gay men deciding that the harassment, arrest and humiliation they regularly suffered at the hands of police and city authorities had become unbearable.
A Bit of history
In much of the USA, as in most of the world, homosexuality was illegal at the time. And even in places where it wasn’t, gays were treated as though they were in fact criminals. Such was the case in New York, where strict laws on associating made gathering complicated for gays. Gay establishments like bars were regularly raided with most occupants hauled off to jail. Since newspapers published names and sometimes address of anyone arrested, the ensuing scandal and humiliation could result in lose of jobs, family and home.
There had been other riots, demonstrations and marches before Stonewall. But those had died away quickly without creating the type of backlash and movement that the Stonewall rebellion did. The Stonewall Inn bar was a popular night spot for gays although it operated illegally. It was actually owned by a mob family who had informants with the police department. These eyes and ears normally gave the establishment a heads up before a raid. But on the night of 28 June, the bar was not notified in time to get patrons out or remove alcohol from the premises. And so the police arrived and began arresting clients. Some resisted and the resistance led to fighting and rioting in the street.
A Movement takes off
The rioting last for a few nights. But that was enough for the modern gay rights movement to be set in motion. The momentum started the following year when gays marched in the street to mark the anniversary of the riots. This was the first gay pride parade.
Gays are generally more peaceful than the public at large. After all, how often do you hear about fist fights at gay bars. But the movement for rights started with a violent spark. Likewise, naturists tend to be peace-loving. Perhaps, it will take a violent and combative event to bring us our moment. But I hope not. I hope we are now mature enough as people to use dialogue to change minds. We already have had opportunities such as naked marches, naked bike rides, etc. But we have yet to use these as springboards to push forward for naturist equality.
Like the gays in 1970 who came together to build upon the events of the Stonewall rebellion, we need to publicly celebrate and declare our lifestyle to be valid and worthy of pride. Naturist most take to the street, at least metaphorically, to claim our space in the diverse fabric of humanity.