Did tragedy in Orlando bridge gap for LGBT community?


Photo by Patrick Johnson

The Northwestern Mutual building at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee displays a sign of unity with the victims of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting by lighting their building at night with the colors of the rainbow.

Human rights are a necessity when it comes to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and clothing, but for gays, it’s been about that and everything beyond all of that. The lifestyle has been in and out of court as a debate being a matter of choice, or birthright. 

In our country alone, homosexuality was, for a long time, considered to be an illness of the mind, or something stemmed from one considered to be perverted.

According to the PBS piece titled, “Timeline: Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement,” you can actually see how far gay rights has come to be recognized in this nation’s history. 

For instance, the PBS program notes that Dec. 15, 1950, was the beginning of the “Lavender Scare,” which was a cleaning of house to fire same-sex men from government jobs, as well as discharging them from military. It would not be until 1993, when the Department of Defense issues a policy, “Don’t ask don’t tell,” allowing them to serve in the military, as long as they were discreet about their sexual preference. 

One can see the point in time where certain people could not even be acknowledged in a bar, be in a cafeteria as a transgender, or have their own club without being raided. You can be shocked that it wasn’t until the ‘70s that they could at least have a parade to celebrate their pride, or be elected into public office openly. They could not, however, marry until 2004. So, as you can see, humanly in timeline perspective, many of the victories are very recent.

How comfortably can a gay couple raise children? Kiss in public?  How gay can they portray themselves on national TV programming, or in a commercial? How safe should they be allowed to feel in a gay club? Should there be armed security, or none? Can they volunteer for a blood transfusion if there were a mass gay tragedy?

There are many political facets and dimensions that are on the conversation table for gay rights these days. Since the mayhem of June 12, 2016, same-sex hugs and kisses seem to be more profound.

You can hear people say, “Keep kissing!” Mankind may be ready to openly allow gay relations without judgment, a transgender female in a bathroom without harassment, or a gay man able to donate blood without scrutiny.

I personally believe that humans are just humans and there have been gay humans since humans ever were, even in America. One can simply question the powdered faces, rosy cheeks, bleach white wigs, red lips and stockings of our Founding Fathers.

Was there more that met the eye then? Was it more than just a right to be free and bear arms, but a right to bare legs in tights and be gay? Who’s to say?

Today, City Hall bares the LGBT flag, bright and bold, in honor of the lives lost in Orlando, and hopefully as a hug for the LGBT presence and future. These are people, people. Obviously, in tragedy, we are one, so who are we to judge consenting adults’ lifestyles?

I never had a problem. Maybe, it’s because I am of mixed race, and I knew what it was like to grow up different from the others just based off of my looks. It was horrible non-acceptance on many a day; too light for some minorities, not light enough for the majority, and forever confusing the Latinas.

That was my experience. Having said that, it’s alright by me if Wisconsin just happens to be the first state to outlaw discrimination against anyone because of sexual preference.  That was in 1982. Speaking of the Rubix Cubed ‘80s, I’d like to think that they were so awesome because of brightly colored people like Boy George.

Obviously, in music, we are one, because he is accepted, celebrated, and to this day, cherished. 

It’s July 2016, the stars and stripes wave nationwide, and yet,  there is still so much LGBT independence to stand with and protect.

My question is, when the rainbow flag memory is gone from 200 E. Wells St., will the real meaning remain as vivid in the important future of humanity’s colors?