Friday, June 21, 2013

6.21.13 Recent Experiences - Meeting Erica Kay-Webster


First I just have to vent a little bit.  Last summer I was laid off and filed for unemployment right away the process was grueling and it took them over a month to finally figure out that I was entitled to benefits.  So this time, I was busy for the past few weeks with life and doing things, and the depression probably contributed to the fact that I really didn't want to deal with my money issues.  Either way I found out today that they do not go back to your layoff date they consider benefits from the day you applied for them.  Which is total bs if you ask me, they can make us wait months, tell us we aren't entitled to benefits because of vacation time payouts etc. and then we have health issues and things going on in our lives and they won't go back to the date of layoff.  gah!  so frustrating.

Anyway, Wednesday my mom took me to see her counselor for her to meet me so she had a better idea of who I was and what she was going through.  It went well, and we talked a lot about the five stages of grief, which I've talked about before briefly in how our loved ones grieve the death of the old us and almost celebrate the birth of the new us.  My mom was funny, while no question is unreasonable she asked if we had a funeral for the male me and if we changed my birthdate to the date I get my name changed.  I just looked at her and said, your welcome to do what you want but I'm not going to go to a funeral for myself.  lol.

for more on the five stages of grief: http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
Denail, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance

Then after the meeting we went to PFLAG in Massachusetts, it was a larger meeting though they had a guest speaker.  This is where I met Erica Kay-Webster, and I will preface this by saying she is a tremendously strong woman and has been through a lot, she refers to herself as one of the stonewall riot survivors.  I myself didn't know what the stonewall riots were and had to look them up, though this is a period in history where a lot of the LGBT believe that their equal-rights movement began.

It was a three day riot, the riot began after a bunch of private clubs in New York were raided.  At this point in time it was illegal to serve alcohol to Gay, Lesbian or Transgender individuals so these private clubs were largely run by the mafia.  Erica stated that she wasn't sure why the police began to raid these clubs, if they were squeezing the mafia for higher bribes or if it was some other issue.  In either case during the raids many of the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender individuals were arrested, beaten with billy clubs and subjugated to police brutality.  Again at this point in history this was expected and the fear of the culture around the LGBT individuals was soo intense that no one lived openly.

Personally I had a hard time thinking of a society where being gay or lesbian was illegal.  I suppose it's the same today where certain sexual positions are outlawed, though I don't know how the police are going to enforce those laws.  So even today though we continue to fight for our rights and find our place in society, we have come a long way in the last 40-50 years.

"This Sunday, June 28, will mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the event largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States.  The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States. 
At the time, there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting "gay power."

Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd.  For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city.
In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a city-wide newspaper called Gay.  On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States,"  (http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/06/449-stonewall.html#sthash.QHuyMV86.dpuf).

So being a survivor of this event, along with putting up with a number of other atrocities in her own life I found myself drawn to this woman.  A pillar of strength and a beacon of light in my otherwise dismal and dark world.  She had lived it, gone through it, been through the ringer and back and spent time in prison on top of it all.  It was just awe strucking and as I said to her after the meeting, 'I only hope I can be as strong as you.'

Her full story and information can be found at: http://ericakayboundbetweenlove.wordpress.com/

She is writing a book to be released in 2014 titled Absence of Justice.  She is putting together project groups, marching in a number of pride parades, and presenting the LGBT flags to the United Nations in New York on September 11th.  She has begun a project to help the 600,000 homeless LGBT youth who are rejected by their families, and hopes to have a facility set up modeled after the Hersey School in Cape Cod, MA.  She is incredibly accomplished and continues to give back to us in the community, she wants nothing more than to see us all succeed and I suppose I am trying to do my small part with my blog, but feel it pales in comparison to this womans accomplishments.  While I haven't mentioned it yet, she is openly a trans woman, though she had SRS at 17 back in 1968.  The stonewall riots occurred in 1969.

for more information, questions concerns, again I invite you all to email or respond, again my email is draglizar@gmail.com

to be continued...
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