The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between homosexuals and police officers in New York City. The first night of rioting began on Friday, June 27, 1969 not long after 1:20 a.m., when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. “Stonewall,” as the raids are often referred to, is considered a turning point for the modern gay rights movement worldwide. It was the first time any significant body of gays resisted arrest.
The StoneWall Riots were one of the first times the homosexual community defended themselves against the New York City police. They took a stand and made their mark, they no longer accepted abuse as being synoymous with being homosexual.
It was a landmark event that started a much needed change.
But, the StoneWall riots actually weren’t the first protest again gay abuse. There was a small grassroots movement that initiated a sit-in in a quaint Philadelphia coffee shop in 1965. Deweys’ was a popular hangout for young gays, lesbians and drag queens. Deweys’ employee’s refused service to anyone from the LGBT community which sparked a civil sit-in. This passive resistant move has changed the way society interacts with the gay community. But, it clearly hasn’t been enough.
We might need more sit-ins.
Over the course of one month, there has been at least six recorded suicides from gay students who have been unfairly bullied by their peers. It is true as they say, fear can kill. Ironically we live in an information age where ignorance still seems to be a prevalent characteristic within our society. It seems to be an intentional igorance, people fear what they do not understand.
But, here’s the issue, why don’t they understand?
The StoneWall riots were about a people group who were seeking equality,liberation and fair treatment against the Big Other. Ironically, the Big Other was meant to be the very thing that was meant to protect them and it failed them. The New York City police did not protect and serve. They protected themselves from getting to know another human being.
When the Big Other stands in an invisible gap and expends themselves to the point that they represent the very thing they are meant to be against, we then have to begin asking how viable is this Big Other.
We then have to begin asking what is meant to be in its place. When the Big Other represents violence and protects only some from that violence it then becomes the very symbol of everything it originally was meant to be against.
That’s when the system fails us.
I think we also have to be honest about this idea of loving our neighbour which seems to be central to many religions, yet there is a lot of violent resistance emanating more specifically from the Christian community.
In this instance, the Big Other aren’t just the New York Police, but now the Big Other is also represented by the institution of Christianity. This isn’t to say all of Christianity or all of the New York Police should be flippantly demonized, it means, we have to be incredibly careful about who and what we readily associate ourselves with. I am reminded of a letter written by an early church author where he says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul was responding to context that endorsed all of these separations. There were Jews and Greeks and they would violently distance themselves from one another, there were different genders and one was subordinate to the other but then he re-renders who the Big Other is. He then says everyone, all people, creation as a whole are one in Christ.
When young teenagers are driven to kill themselves, the bullies are not the only one’s at fault, we are too. And when they kill themselves, they are killing a piece of humanity. When we allow the death of innocent teenagers to take place, we support the very perversion we say we’re against. We perpetuate the reverse perversion of the Big Other.
We can’t idylly sit by and talk about loving our neighbour any longer.
It can’t matter what version of the Bible we read, or even, dare I say what religion we adhere to. Paul says that Christ is the Big Other. The new way of life we all can and are participating in. When we allow atrocious things like the death of a teenager to easily pass across our television screens and deem it as just another death, we become the very demons we are trying to run from.
Paul is saying something radical because he isn’t introducing only a new reality, but he is dreaming up a new society as a whole. He is challenging the very indoctrinated enslavement to the Big Other that is present and is telling his listeners that this new Big Other is built upon very different foundations.
A place where the labels that distance us don’t exist.
A place where those labels cloud the unity that we were created with. This new kind of society throws all of the ethics defined by the distorted Big Other and re-orients them through the new post-colonial Big Other. I think this is also an important key to realize, because it does seem that there is ideological colonialism prevalent within the very fabric of this angry argument for
The Gay Issue isn’t and never should have been an issue, but much like what Martin Luther King Jr. did for civil rights, maybe all of these movements, responses and hopes for a better society can be the very saviours needed to usher in the new Jesus society.
One where love is the political foundation of reality.
One where the label gays don’t exist, it doesn’t mean that we can have diversity or be proud of that diversity, but it means we don’t see each other as a perversion of a label.That we can see each beyond our labels.
When we cling to our labels to the point where we feel justified to destroy another human being, we then have succumbed to ideological terrorism whereby we choose to violently hold to our labels and not allow to see the human that stands behind them. We need a riot of love, embrace and self-subversion that leads to a Christological tolerance.
When we do this, we deny humanity and pervert it into nothing more than something we derive an obscene pleasure from. May we come to a place where this is no gay or straight, but all people unencumbered by titles and found in the wholeness that is humanity.