Wednesday, May 27, 2009

June is Gay Pride Month nationwide, which generally means that it’s a time for community-building festivals and parades and joyous expressions of pride in individuality and sexuality. But in California, celebrations are turning to protests as it was announced Tuesday that the courts will uphold Prop 8, the ban on same-sex marriage. For the lucky 18,000 who rushed to the alter during the brief moment gay marriage was legal in California, their marriages will stay intact, but for the countless other couples who hoped that the courts would reverse the ban as unconstitutional, more court battles and ballot initiatives await.

It’s amazing and inspiring to think about how far gay rights have come since the 1960’s. The Stonewall Riots in 1969 marked the very beginning of the gay rights movement in America and to commemorate the anniversary of the June riots, the very next year an informal, spontaneous march happened on Christopher Street in New York City, marking the first Gay Pride Parade. Images from these early Gay Pride Parades were captured by Hank O’Neal in his book Gay Days, with captions by Alan Ginsberg and an intro written by William Burroughs (heavy hitters!).

This month Tender Greens West Hollywood will unveil a new permanent photo installation featuring selections from O’Neal’s Christopher Street images (see photo above for sample). The images, which will wallpaper the restaurant, will be installed next week, and to celebrate the unveiling, Tender Greens will host a week of fundraising events benefiting the LA Gay & Lesbian Center June 8-14. All profits from the sales of Agent for Change wines that week will be donated to the Center and on June 11, 5% of all profits for the day at the restaurant will be donated. On the evening of June 11, a private fundraiser will be held at the restaurant, benefiting the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.

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