PGMC – Stonewall Riot! Soundtrack to a Revolution!
By Sweet Queen
I love Maya Angelou’s book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” because it reminds me why I write, why I share, and especially why I love to listen. As your entertainment columnist, I believe it is my honor to give you my experiences and review what parts are critical to keep you entertained, to keep you inspired and to encourage you to find your scene. This month is dedicated entirely to celebrating. What one decides to celebrate and how, is what our personal choices reflect about us on our own journey. Just like Maya Angelou intended, she invited her reader to show up and pay attention. As humans, we understand that everyone has a story, we are genetically wired to create our own explanations about the unknowns just to fill in the blanks for our brains, and this is all part of the process of being human. I like to point out that this country’s ancient ancestors sat around a native fire ring to orchestrate life lessons, and to share about their own experience. The retelling of their stories as a means to connect to each other and rejoice in humanity. We celebrate lots of milestones and achievements because we take pride in the experience of being human. Have you ever stopped to consider why we sing anyway? Have you ever found yourself belting out a line and thought, ‘what makes me feel so free and alive in this moment?’ This month’s recognition of Pride is best recognized by taking a look at its history, paying attention to who is singing the praises today, who still struggles, what is our part in our sexual discoveries, and how we continue to project a loud and proud voice as a supportive community.
There’s so much to cover this month, so let’s get started. Did you know that Portland’s Pride Northwest (https://www.pridenw.org/) has been supporting and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community for the last 25 years? This month Portland Pride’s Waterfront Festival and Parade will embark on a new quarter-century in making a difference in the lives of those who crave visibility and connection, by celebrating our diversity within the entire community June 15th and 16th. The goal is simple, through education and acknowledgment, the positive influences empower all of us regardless of our sexuality. Portland Pride is a week-long celebration, the largest on the west coast, and serves as an excellent opportunity to be seen and heard, so do your part.
Another major milestone for celebration this month is the 50 year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Not everyone is versed in the history of the formation of the community itself, which gives me the lofty goal of summarizing five decades of undaunted courage by many impassioned humans to achieve greatness. In the summer of 1969, Greenwich Village, New York became the hotspot of conflict and subsequent change. During that era, homosexuality was kept private and gay men opted to visit the bars known to cater to their sexual needs in a particular section of Greenwich Village, also the home of the Stonewall Inn. Law Enforcement began cracking down on this activity and that caused an uprise within the closeted community, which led the way for the movement to begin opening societies’ eyes about human sexuality. As the police were trying to shut down these bars, the gay men turned their anger and rage against those attempting to shut them down. These riots are known as Stonewall, and while it seems like just a part of history, this was a pivotal stand against our culture, for the entire community as a whole today.
This year the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) has decided to honor this historical moment by performing Stonewall Riot! Soundtrack to a Revolution, taking place on June 22nd at 7pm (Tickets are $20 – $52 at the Keller Auditorium, https://www.pdxgmc.org/shows/stonewall/) and not coincidentally, singing in celebration at almost the exact day and time of the riots, only 50 years later. The show touts that the “Summer of ’69 was a groundbreaking moment in LGBTQ history, with one hell of a soundtrack,” and they look forward to standing up to deliver in song. Consider sharing in the joy by offering praise to those who fought before us.