"Liberation for gay people is to define ourselves how and with whom we live, instead of measuring our relationships by straight values
To be free territory, we must govern ourselves, set up our own institutions, defend ourselves, and use our own energies to improve our lives" (Wittman, 75). Carl Wittman's Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto, drew together many of the themes dealing with gay liberation. This quote demonstrates the goals of the gay and lesbian movement, a movement which many believe started with the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall riots proved to homosexuals that a sufficient amount of time had passed that they were persecuted and maltreated and it was time to speak up for their rights, resulting in the gay and lesbian movement.
For many years homosexuals have been persecuted and looked down upon for leading different lifestyles than the so-called "normal," person. Homosexuals live in fear; a fear of opening up and showing the world their true selves. There are many reasons why homosexuals chose and still choose to stay in the "closet." The fact that many people thought lesbians and gay men had psychological problems was one of them. According to the article The Stonewall Riots- 1969, Sigmund Freud's writings on sexuality in the early 1900's and his theories on homosexuality, the public began to think that lesbians and gay men would benefit from medical treatment. Freud's theories primarily stated that homosexuality was something learned in childhood and was basically a choice. A choice that physicians thought they could change through treatments such as castration, hypnosis, surgery, electric shock, drugs and hormones. (Wright)
New York banned homosexual themes in movies due to the fact that they were thought of as "perverted." According to the article The Stonewall Riots- 1969, the Motion Picture Code of the 1930's prevented movies from being viewed and many had to be edited to remove any obscene material. Along with film, there were also newspaper articles that were published further discussing homosexuals as "sex murderers," and "destroyers of society." Society was sending a message to the homosexual community that their lifestyle's were wrong and should be kept hidden. (Wright)
Name-calling was another reason that lesbians and gay men chose to keep their sexuality hidden. Though we have all heard the saying sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me, everyone has at one time or another been stung by harsh, sometimes blunt insults. Gay men and lesbians are no exception. In fact, some say they might even hear them more than anyone else. When one thinks of gay people, two main insults tend to jump out. The words "faggot" and "dyke." The word "faggot" when looked up in the dictionary means a bundle of sticks tied together and burned. (Webster's Dictionary 223) According to the article The Stonewall Riots- 1969, this term became an insult directed towards gay men following the Holocaust. During World War II, Hitler gathered all the people he thought were homosexuals at his concentration camps, stripped them down, tied them together and burned them (Wright).
Homosexuals had every right to be terrified of coming out, but they would not give up and their persistence soon began to show through according to the article The Stonewall Riots- 1969, positive signs began to show through in the early 1960's. Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality between consenting adults in private by adopting the Model Legal Code of the American Law Institute. The Motion Picture Association lifted its ban on gay themes in movies by reversing the Motion Picture Code in 1961. Not only were there noticeable differences, many gay civil rights groups began to pop up in the 1960's (Wright).
According to the book Why Do We Have Discrimination?, Franklin Kameny founded the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C. opening the way to an aggressive assertion of gay...
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Elishtain, Jean Bethke. New York Times: Accepting Limits. (Did not have date.)
Kameny, Franklin. Why do we have Discrimination? Chicago: Illinois Publications, 1992.
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The New York Times, 29 June- 2 July 1969. (article)
Thompson, Mark, ed.,Long Road to Freedom. New York: St. Martin 's Press 1994.
Wittman, Carl. Refugees from Amerika: A Gay Manifesto. Los Angeles: UCLA Press, 2001.
Wright, Lionel. The Stonewall Riots- 1969. 4 July 1999. .
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