When Santa Clara raised the Rainbow flag to mark the start of Pride month on June 4, it was a moment to take a break from the many challenges we face as a society and reflect on how far we’ve come.
It’s been half a century since a group of gay people in New York City decided they’d had enough and fought back against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn.
Until that moment in June 1969, LGBTQIA+ people lived in fear — of police entrapment, of police raids, of losing their jobs, of losing their families, of being branded as “perverts,” of being pilloried for simply being who they were — and forced to live in the world behind a mask.
Although Stonewall was the beginning, and far from the end of the struggle for equality for people who don’t fit into stereotypical definitions of “male” and “female,” it marked the point when everything started to change.
“On Nov. 19, 2012 Council adopted a resolution protecting all people from discrimination,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor last week, “Let us remember our foundation and our ideals: we are all equal.”
Pride is more than celebrating an event from 50 years ago, said Council Member Anthony Becker, Santa Clara’s second openly gay Council Member, who spoke at last week’s flag-raising.
“Pride was created not to celebrate being gay,” Becker said. “It was created to celebrate the right to live free from fear.
But that freedom is still a ways from realization, Becker noted, honoring the opening of Covenant House residential center in Santa Clara for homeless young people.
“Most are gay,” Becker said. “Kids are still being thrown out of their homes and families for how they identify.”
Becker also spoke about the inspiration and encouragement he received from Jamie McLeod, Santa Clara’s first openly gay Council Member, and dedicated this year’s Rainbow flag raising to her. “She was never able to raise this flag,” he said. (The first Pride flag raising was June 2017, and McLeod served from 2004-2008.)
“She moved the City forward,” Becker said. “Let us never stop reaching for that rainbow”
The flag raising was attended by Mayor Gillmor, Vice Mayor Raj Chahal, Council Members Becker, Karen Hardy, Suds Jain, Kevin Park and Kathy Watanabe; Police Chief Pat Nikolai and guest of honor Board President Gabrielle Antolovich of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center who assisted Becker in raising the Rainbow flag.