Feature writing

Stonewall 50

Guy Benson: ‘Many of Us Simply Aspire to Be Left Alone to Pursue Happiness as Fully Equal Members of Society’

Website:
The Daily Beast

Date:
June 25, 2019

The Fox News contributor tells The Daily Beast: ‘I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my rights today if others before me hadn’t stood up and forcefully demanded theirs.’

How and when did you first hear about the Stonewall Riots, and what did you make of them? What is their significance for you?

I didn’t grow up steeped in LGBT culture or history, so when I first heard a passing reference to the Stonewall Riots a number of years ago, I realized that I had a major blind spot. After googling the watershed event, I remember feeling a sense of anger at New York authorities’ targeted and gratuitous harassment of the LGBT community at the time—deliberately making already-marginalized people feel unsafe even within one of their few sanctuaries.

I also felt a sense of relief to be living in a very different place and time, acutely aware that my relative comfort today literally could not be possible if not for the struggles undertaken, and injustices endured, by previous generations of gay citizens and activists. I’m grateful to them.

How far have LGBT people come in the last 50 years?

Although there is still work to be done, and despite the remaining challenges of coming out and being out in 2019, we are light years beyond the atmosphere of abject injustice and inequality that precipitated the Stonewall Riots.

These days, many of us simply aspire to be left alone to pursue happiness as fully equal members of society. We’re closer to that ideal than ever before, and Stonewall marked an important inflection point on that march toward progress. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my rights today if others before me hadn’t stood up and forcefully demanded theirs.

What would you like to see, LGBT-wise, in the next 50 years?

My hope is that by 2069, the culture of hostility and fear that led up to the Stonewall flashpoint will feel even more like an unfathomable and shameful relic of a bygone era.