Monday, December 18th, 2017

My Freedom

decla_1As trite as it may sound (to some), I do consider myself fortunate to be a citizen of the United States of America, and I feel a sense of pride everytime I see our flag.

I know that the freedoms I enjoy were paid for by those who fought for freedom.

I also know that the future of freedom, even in this country, is not guaranteed.

“We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

United States Declaration of Independence

diversity2Over the years, the concept of American-freedom has evolved. Originally, “all Men” referred only to male landowners of European decent.

Today, “all Men” refers to both men and women, regardless of race. However, even this modern concept of equal citizenship is exclusionary.

Being gay, or knowing someone who is, can be an eye opening experience to the inequalities that exist with current laws (or the lack there of).

Over 1000 rights and protections guaranteed for married and unmarried heterosexual couples (by federal and state laws) are denied to same-sex couples. Gay men and women are discriminated against in housing, employment, military service, immigration, and health care (and the list goes on).

It’s because of these inequalities that I support organizations like the Human Rights Campaign.

We’re not fighting for special rights, just equal rights.

dubsw_medWhile the struggle for equality continues for gays and lesbians, I believe we have to acknowledge those who took the first steps out of the proverbial closet.

One of the pivotal moments for gay equality in America took place in the summer of 1969 when a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn was raided by police. During this time in American history, it was typical for the police to conduct “fag-bar” raids. Patrons usually took the abuse, but on June 27, 1969 the queens at Stonewall had enough. To the surprise of the police, they fought back. What became known as the Stonewall Riots sparked the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement.

Of all the “gay” icons that are used to promote recognition and equality, I consider the pink triangle to be somewhat sacred.

symbols29013To explain the meaning behind the pink triangle, we have to go back to the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

It is widely known that the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear yellow stars of David, whether they were in the community, in the ghettos or in the camps. The Nazis extended this classification scheme to other prisoners interned in the camps.

Gays = Pink
Jehovah’s Witness = Violet
Political Prisoners = Red
Emigrant = Blue

Additional color-codes existed.

Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, made even friendships between male homosexuals a criminal offense. About 10,000 homosexuals, mostly German or Austrian, were imprisoned in concentration camps, where they had to wear a pink triangular patch marking them as homosexuals. One of these patches is on display at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.

” First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me – and by then there was no one left to speak up for me.” — Pastor Martin Niemoller