On July 4, 1965, homophile groups picketed Independence Hall in Philadelphia to celebrate the first annual reminder to demand equality for lesbians and gays.
Forty brave souls attended that day, wearing jackets and ties for men, dresses for women, required garb of the homosexual protestor in the mid '60s. The conventional clothes said: "Look at us, we're just as boring as you are." FAST FORWARD: On June 28, 1969, a ragbag of hippies, street people, drag queens and homosexuals rampaged through the streets of Greenwich Village battling "the pigs" after they raided the sleazy Stonewall Inn. Dress was casual that day.
In the 1970s, the protests against Anita Bryant and her Save Our Children Inc. campaign spurred a whole new protest fashion. The protestors then wore Disco tube tops, sequined halterneck shirts and spandex shorts; the women, flannel shirts and combat boots. OK, so I lied about that part.
Many LGBT protest movements have come and gone sinceACT UP, Queer Nation and the Lesbian Avengers, all with '80s and '90s hair. Somewhere along the way large organizations rose to prominence, like the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Illinois, etc. The A-Gay activists were saying, "Don't worry little people, we'll represent you, leave it up to us the experts. Go back to your bars and bathhouses, you're online sex and your lesbian discussion groups." The unruly rabble put away their buttons and ACT UP T-shirts and handed over their anger to LGBTs wearing Armani suits and tailored skirt and pantsuits. The gay papers swelled with photographs of soirees at the White House and A-Gays posing with politicians or the current president.
Not anymore. You can now fight for equality in your jimmy-jams.
I truly believe there are five elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and the Internet, and somewhere out there spinning in the cosmos a Stonewall Riot just took place. And, this time, nobody got hurt. Not physically anyway.
When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious-freedom bill allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTs, he was flanked by a Victorian freak show of clerics, nuns, monks and rabbis. All that was missing were acrobats, a tattooed strongman and Simon P. Amazing's Dancing Poodles. The image was so bizarre that Facebook burst into flames, as LGBTs in their jimmy-jams launched a vitriolic campaign. It was interesting to watch, as discourse on lofty subjects like "Equality" and "Human Rights" was reduced to the ins-and-outs of buying pizza, wedding cakes, and the moral objections of an auto-repair guy.
LGBTs in rural Kansas or Montana, unable to protest outside "important buildings" or afford to go to HRC black-tie benefits could now let rip on the Internet, causing a blizzard of uncontrollable chaos. Sitting at keyboards, thousands of LGBTs wearing jimmy-jams took down Pence with the ruthless efficiency of a Gay Pride lioness bringing down a water buffalo. Gov. Pence is bleeding out on the tundra somewhere, licking his wounds and hiring a PR company to restore the damaged image of the State of Indiana. I'm trying not to laugh.
As the storm continued, businesses stepped in to issue threats and warnings: Salesforce, Walmart, Angie's List, Nascar, Wells Fargo Bank, American Airlines. Big business knows where its customers are. Small businesses, however, don't. When Crystal O'Connor and her father Kevin, owners of the Memories Pizza in Walkington, Indiana, raised their scaly heads above the surface of the scummy bigot pond, saying they would refuse to cater a gay wedding, LGBTs in their jimmy-jams came after them. It was without mercy, not unlike John Snow beheading Janos Slynt in Game of Thrones.
For thousands of LGBTs in their jimmy-jams, Indiana's Religious Freedom bill opened a can of worms. It lanced a boil of pent-up anger, leading to hilarious comments left on websites, Yelp and Facebook pages. It also gave us a victory that no amount of White House soirees could achieve.
Suddenly protesting is back in the hands of the masses and it was all done wearing jimmy-jams. Perhaps it's time for the HRC, EI and their ilk to hang up their suits and slip into their PJs. It wouldn't bother me if I never saw a grinning LGBT A-lister posing with a politician or a president ever again. No, that wouldn't bother me at all.
St. Sukie de la Croix is an internationally published journalist and author of Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall. He lives in California with his husband of 27 years.