In June, every June, we often hear people say to one another, "Happy Pride" or "Happy Pride Month" and when this is said to me, or to us (myself and my husband Jeff) we are often left wondering - do they really know what that means?
What does "Happy Pride" mean?
In the true spirit of www.iloveureka.com, today's blog-post hopefully provides more thread to the culture-quilt we all create each day as locals and visitors flock to this wonderful, inclusive place - Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Culture is a big buzz word. The word "culture," derived from the Latin "colere," means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivate and nurture. When I talk about culture, on or off the job, I often use a quilt analogy. What we say and do, and what we don't say and don't do, curates culture. Our words, actions and intentions will either thread the quilt stronger or we are contributing in a way that rips holes in it.
Culture is fluid. Never ending. Humans constantly rip, repair, thread, repeat. But most of all, we learn as we grow; we get better, and we get stronger. Always evolving.
Along with human actions (or inertia,) our traditions/customs, arts, social institutions, group events, and public organizations along with our history and many community achievements over the years is what makes us the strong, diverse radically inclusive community that we are today.
Most important - culture is collective. We ALL have some part in it.
You've heard it before, and in this instance it's highly apropos - "It takes a village!"
For any culture to change, someone has to step up and lead the change efforts or get the ball rolling or start a process or sow the seeds that induce change. Whatever. It has to start somewhere, somehow.
So, back to my initial question -
Q. What does "Happy Pride" mean?
A. Unconditional love for one another.
Think of it as a celebration for ALL! It is a time to celebrate you being true to yourself. It's a time of year, every year, that makes human beings come together in the spirit of love and acceptance of each other.
Like snowflakes, we are each unique. Pride is a celebration of being unique.
This (now world-wide) celebrated love-fest, started with these two unique human beings at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969. Revolutionaries Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson stood at the front lines of this influential protest and both figures were undeniably themselves in a time when homosexuality was illegal and fellow transgender and gender non-conforming peoples were facing arrests and criminal charges because they were unique and living their truth.
When I celebrate pride month - I always think of Sylvia and Marsha. These two icons contributed massive amounts of vibrant, colorful thread to the culture quilt of love, equality and acceptance - FOR ALL. They helped every single snowflake in the world stand-up, celebrate and live their truth. These are the trailblazers.
Sylvia was a Latin Transgender woman and Marcia was an African-American Transgender woman. On June 28 1969, the police stopped by The Stonewall Inn checking for alcohol law violations and other transgressions – something they actually did quite frequently.
What actually occurred that night at the Stonewall Inn was intimidation and demands for payoffs by corrupt NY police officers in return for not arresting or publicizing the names of patrons that were in that gay establishment.
At the time, it was a police procedure to take anyone "masquerading as a woman in public" into a bathroom, determine if they were assigned male at birth and arrest them. But that night, a dramatic turn of events changed the course of the LGBT movement as gay and transgender patrons, lesbians and drag queens resisted.
Marsha was celebrating her 25th birthday that very night and she was reportedly one of the first to stand up to this intimidation. Her friend and strong ally, Sylvia, is said to have taken a first action, in protest of this corruption, that started it all - by throwing a beer bottle at the corrupt police officers.
Many historians have identified that it was a time when civil rights was at the forefront of discussions in America. This, coupled with the Vietnam War, had radicalized American youth. As men came back, they became involved the this social climate change and this opening-up of American society. This spark from these corrupt police officers in New York City was all it took for a movement of change to ignite and it was not long after the events of Stonewall when movements were quickly established in Canada, Holland, Australia, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Britain and France.
Both of these unique human beings were instrumental in the LGBT rights movement and they are credited with playing major roles in the backlash against corrupt police brutality at the Stonewall Inn. Both emerged in 1969 as leaders in the Gay Liberation Movement.
Soon after 1969, Johnson and Rivera opened the first LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer) youth shelter in North America called STAR which offered housing to homeless and transgender youth, which was, and continues to be a particularly vulnerable group in our society.
These trailblazers became the first Trans women of color to lead a professional organization in the United States.
Thank you Marsha and Sylvia! Thank you for standing up, making a difference, starting a movement of change and making history.
It all may have started in a gay establishment, but PRIDE is not about being gay, it's about being uniquely you and in many cases, largely due to prolonged oppression, people celebrate their truth during pride month (every June) with abandon. Each, uniquely celebrating in their own way.
With their abilities to colorfully thread humans together all across the globe, one could argue that Marsha and Sylvia were the very first to start our true world wide web.
Always Be True To You!
Love one another, no matter what!
Special thanks and much love to my wonderful husband Jeff Mokry. Thank you Jeff, for all that you do to enrich our life together and for the love that we share together. Thank you for living your truth and for sharing life with me and allowing me to do the same. I appreciate all that you do for us and I am grateful that you love me just the way that I am.
I love you, to0 - just the way that you are.
More than anything.❤️
Direct from www.nps.gov - Stonewall National Monument erected in 2021.
In June of 2019, just as New York City was entering their month of Pride celebrations, the City announced its plans to build two monuments honoring the late Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera for their lifelong commitment to ending oppression for marginalized communities. The monuments are dedicated to their legacy and to share their stories for generations to come. The permanent installation will be built in Greenwich Village, in a location to be determined after conversations with the community. The City intends to have the monuments installed by 2021, as part of a plan to address gender gaps in public art.
Currently, LGTBQ+ monuments are not among the City’s public statues. These will be the first permanent monuments dedicated to Transgender women in the state of New York.
According to NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio, "putting up statues doesn't change everything, but it starts to change hearts and minds … we want to honor them because they lived their truth and they made history.”
In addition to the monuments, Marsha P. Johnson State Park (previously East River State Park) in Brooklyn, NY has become the first state park in the state of New York to be dedicated to a LGBTQ person and a Trans woman of color. The park’s updates will include a litany of updated facilities such as a public restroom and an educational hub. To honor Johnson’s life, public art will be included and interpretive park signage throughout the park will share her story. With public installations already being implemented, the plan is to complete renovations by 2021.
Here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas we do not celebrate "gay pride" and we do not celebrate once (with one parade on one weekend.) In Eureka Springs, we celebrate "diversity" and we celebrate it every single day.
For more organized events, which include invited guest speakers, shows of all kinds, celebrities and extra celebratory fun, Out In Eureka, organizes three, yes three, different diversity weekend celebrations each year - every Fall, Spring & Summer.
What about winter, you ask? Well, we all hibernate (and throw fun house parties) like proper mountain-folk getting through winter in a small community should. 😉