From Stonewall to Marriage Equality in Utah

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The 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots is upon us and my how things have changed. Just yesterday, the 10th Circuit Court ruled in a landmark case that the State of Utah does not have the right to ban marriage equality. A string of recent federal cases indicates that full, nationwide marriage equality will be a reality, possibly in a year.

I’m not surprised that the LGBT Movement has made so many gains in the past few years, what surprises me is the speed. Growing up a gay Mormon boy, born in Provo, Utah, I never, not for a single moment, entertained the idea that I would be legally married to my husband in Utah. But I am. And the court and the laws and the Constitution are all on our side. It’s been a long road, but we’ve traveled it quickly.

Let’s see how far we’ve come.

Thank goodness for YouTube because it contains gems like this documentary from 1967. CBS aired “The Homosexuals,” an hour-long documentary in 1967, hosted by Mike Wallace. It took 3 years to make, went through several producers and many revisions. Keep in mind, this aired two years before the Stonewall Inn Riots.

There are many cringe worthy moments, including Wallace’s commentary,

The average homosexual, if there be such, is promiscuous. He is not interested or capable of a lasting relationship like that of a heterosexual marriage. His sex life, his love life, consists of a series of one–chance encounters at the clubs and bars he inhabits. And even on the streets of the city — the pick-up, the one night stand, these are characteristics of the homosexual relationship.

The documentary  features professionals, such as doctors and writers, of the day. Wallace speak to psychoanalyst  Dr. Charles Socarides, whose opinion was taken very seriously. Today, he is widely regarded as the father of “conversion therapy.” The documentary also contains an interview with Gore Vidal.

You’ll note, however, that there are no interviews with women. As per usual, women are forgotten. This shouldn’t surprise us too much as it was the late 60s. That’s not to say that women were not working within the gay and lesbian movement at that time. The Daughters of Bilitis worked with the Mattachine Society to achieve a politics of respectability.

Two years later in June 1969, drag queens, trans men and women, and working-class gay kids from the street, would fight back against the white middle-class gays and lesbians as well as against law enforcement. This action is credited with giving birth to Gay Liberation. 

I’ve posted the full documentary here, but you can watch a shorter version here.

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