In Why Marriage?
When a group is stigmatized and vilified, members often internalize these negative perceptions, reports Dr. Jamie Gayle, founder and director of IntraSpectrum Counseling, a Chicago-based group practice that proudly serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning, and intersexed (LGBTQI) community. For this reason, LGBTQI people must actively assert their pride in order to cultivate and celebrate their identities as valid, meaningful, and worthy.
In Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate over Gay Equality, George Chauncey writes that in 1968, inspired by black cultural nationalism and its powerful motto “Black is Beautiful,” gay activists developed the slogan, “Gay is Good.” In both cases, these groups were responding to the predominant negative stereotypes and asserting their truths under a banner that others could adopt as their own. This tagline was developed during a time when gays, lesbians, and trans people were being actively entrapped and arrested by police officers because of their sexual and gender identities. More specifically, the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Wilmington, Delaware reports that in New York, “Same-sex couples were routinely arrested for dancing together, kissing or showing other signs of affection. Individuals were also arrested for wearing clothing of the opposite sex which was considered “unlawful” by the police” (www.pflagwilmde.org). As IntraSpectrum Counseling has previously reported, the legacy of police abuse toward the LGBTQI community continues today; however, it is no longer codified in law.
The rampant abuse of the LGBTQI population at the hands of the police came to a head in June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn a bar in New York when officers entered the bar on a routine raid. By this time, patrons found the raids commonplace. In an interview, Sylvia Lee Rivera (née Ray Rivera Mendoza) reported thinking, “We’re bein’ raided again. Great!” She explained that typically the patrons would quickly disperse, but on June 27, the patrons had had enough, and they congregated outside. As the officers filled the first patrol wagon, the crowd began throwing pennies. When a penny hit an officer in the eye, the head inspector went into the crowd to arrest the man. At that moment, congregants began throwing rocks and bottles. Rivera recounted her feelings at the onset of the riot: “Oh Lord Jesus, the revolution is finally here! Hallelujah—it’s time to go do your thing!” The mob grew in size to over 300 people, causing the police to hide inside of the bar. Ultimately, the riot would last three nights, and it would later be considered by many to be the beginning of the modern LGBTQI Civil Rights Movement. In June 1970, the first Gay Pride March was held to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, and today the month of June is dedicated to LGBTQI Pride.
If you live in the Chicago or its neighboring suburbs and you are struggling to accept your sexual or gender identity, the therapists at IntraSpectrum Counseling may be able to help. IntraSpectrum Counseling offers a range of therapeutic services for Chicago’s LGBTQI members, including but not limited to individual gay and lesbian counseling, gender identity counseling, same-sex couples counseling, and group counseling specifically tailored to the unique needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersexed clients.