There’s a Tagalog proverb that goes, “Kung hindi mo alam kung saan ka nanggaling, hindi mo alam kung saan ka makakarating.”
“If you do not know where you come from, you do not know where you’re going.”
The first time I heard this, I thought, “What a ridiculous saying.” But the more I considered it, the more I realized the wisdom. Know your roots, the saying seems to imply. Remember that knowledge is power.
I learned of the incredible, spontaneous–viscerally and physically defiant–Stonewall riots nearly two decades ago, after I first came out. The coming out process is, of course, for many of us such an arduous, painful process that the history of all those who came before us is clouded by self-interest. How can a collective movement matter much when you’re struggling to your individual identity?
Once the door is opened, however, it’s important to recognize the past. That’s the best part of the Filipino proverb: How can you move forward, if you never look back?
The Stonewall Riots–and its defiant men and women–initiated a revolution. Pre-1969, homosexuality was illegal; the American Psychiatry Association categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder. The list of social injustices burdening lesbians and gay men were endless.
I’m excited to support the new documentary “Stonewall Uprising.” It contains black-and-white historical footage and interviews with the now-senior citizens who defied police, social scientists, and the political establishment; as one participant says, “It was the Rosa Parks moment.”
Filed under: gay rights, history, documentary, drag queen, gay rights, human rights, lesbian, new york, stonewall