visited New York the weekend prior to our Pride parade here in Chicago. It was just a quick trip to see Broadway Bares, which, at the time we saw it had raised $620,000 for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.
With some free time on Sunday, I headed to Christopher Street in The Village to visit Stonewall. Exiting the B train at Washington Square, I made my way along 4th Street, wandering from block to block until I spied a very large Pride flag being held by the leader of a tour group.
The group was comprised mostly of men from California visiting the area where the riots began. 'The birthplace of a movement,' the leader said. 'This is where it all began?,' one of the younger men asked, as if wishing for something bigger or more flashy. 'Yes,' the leader replied. 'This is it.'
I spent some time sitting on the curb across the street next to the small garden. I even whipped out my video camera and recorded some of my thoughts and some of the ambiance of the area. You can find it at radiopeter.com if you'd like to watch.
I'd been to that exact same place and sat in the same spot many times before. In fact, each time I visit New York, I make my way there. But this time, it was somehow different. My eyes saw so much more. It felt different. I almost cried.
A week before I arrived in NYC, singer and performer Kevin Aviance was beaten on June 10 as he exited an East Village club. He wasn't in drag. Four attackers broke his jaw and caused many other injuries. It's reported that they were between sixteen and twenty years old.
Sixteen and twenty years old. Not even allowed to drink, but able to mentally rape someone. The fact that a giant cosmopolitan city such as New York is a breeding ground for such hate blows my mind, but it reinforces the need for all of us to get off our asses and do something about this.
People are still being beaten for being Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgendered. In many countries, they are killed for who they are. Jobs are denied, human rights are taken away, and life can become hell on earth for people who only want to feel comfortable in their own skin.
If you haven't done anything for our community lately, now is the time. I don't have the room to list the thousands of organizations that you can join to make a difference, but you know who they are. And if you don't, google the words 'gay rights' and learn.
Don't just send someone a check either. Get involved. Volunteer your time somewhere. We have to take care of our own. Nobody else will. And if we don't take care of our people, more will get beaten, fired, and denied the right to be themselves.
With you in 4/4,