The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.
Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.
The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.
Although best known for her crusade for women's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony spoke out on a range of feminist issues.
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
Androgyny, a psychological blending of gender traits, has long been embraced by strong women, soft men, members of queer communities, and others who do not easily fit into traditionally defined gender categories.
A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.
It was not even close.
By a margin of 61 to 39%, voters in North Carolina overwhelmingly approved Amendment One, which adds discrimination to the state constitution, banning not only same-sex marriage but recognition of any "domestic relation" other than a marriage between a man and a woman. It will likely end domestic partner benefits for unmarried couples in the state and may end recognition of "common-law" relationships between unmarried heterosexual couples.
Although defeating Amendment One was always thought to be a long shot, many believed that it could be done. Polls showed that while 60% of the state's voters were opposed to same-sex marriage, almost 60% were in favor of either same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. It was believed that we could defeat Amendment One if we could educate the electorate to the fact that it banned not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnerships and that it may also wreak other "collateral damage."
Hence, the Protect All NC Families organization, which managed the campaign against Amendment One made the strategic decision to emphasize the collateral damage and relegate the question of same-sex marriage (and gay and lesbian people) to the sidelines.
The campaign issued a number of well-made videos that emphasized the generalized harm that Amendment One would cause. Most of these videos barely mentioned gay and lesbian people. Others in effect endorsed a ban on same-sex marriage but said Amendment One "goes too far."
The election results confirm that this strategy was fatally flawed. It conceded too much and it gave the impression that our own campaign was ashamed of gay and lesbian people. It suggested that the collateral damage done to unmarried heterosexual couples was a greater affront than the ban on same-sex marriage itself.
The message was inauthentic from the beginning. Our mobilizing against Amendment One in reality had little or nothing to do with the collateral damage and everything to do with the ban on same-sex marriage.
Notwithstanding the real harm that Amendment One may do to unmarried heterosexual couples or women or children, it was duplicitous to pretend that that was the reason we thought Amendment One should be defeated.
In contrast to our obfuscation, our opposition defined the question clearly: for them Amendment One was about homosexuality and it was intended to punish gay men and lesbians and to devalue their relationships.
Indeed, for our opponents, the entire campaign was about sin. They unleashed a campaign that can be described only as disgusting. It was utterly unrestrained by any sense of decency. They made no pretense of conducting a civil campaign about policy issues. For them, it was an expression of religious belief. A vote for Amendment One was a vote for Jesus.
Unfortunately, our official campaign was too timid to respond vigorously to the opposition's frank bigotry. Besides, to do so would be "off message," since our side continued the pretense that the campaign was not about homosexuality.
Instead of using the campaign to educate people about the lives of gay men and lesbians, we allowed the bigots to define us as perverts and incarnations of evil with very little rebuttal.
We should have forthrightly defended same-sex marriage. We should have said that same-sex marriage was itself good, good both for same-sex couples and good for the institution of marriage. We should have insisted that it was unfair and unAmerican to deny citizens equal rights.
Protect All NC Families did a number of things right. They raised sufficient funds to wage a competitive campaign. They recruited distinguished North Carolinians--including conservatives as well as liberals--to denounce Amendment One. They forged important bonds with the African-American community, including the NAACP and a number of pastors. That they failed was not because they lacked energy and commitment.
They failed because the strategy was wrong. They paid far too much deference to our opponents' religious views and failed to call out religious-based bigotry for the ugliness it is.
The kind of aggressive campaign that I would have preferred them to run might also have lost, but at least we would feel that we had been honest and forthright and unashamed.
We must not repeat the same errors in the battles to come. It helps that Maine, Washington, Minnesota, and Maryland are somewhat less religious (or at least differently religious) than North Carolina. The frank appeals to bigotry practiced by our opponents in North Carolina are likely to be counter-productive in those states.
Perhaps most importantly, the referenda in November are focused clearly on marriage equality. In these campaigns, it will be impossible to hide gay couples and their families in the shadows and pretend the issue is something other than same-sex marriage and equal rights under the law.