We have to fight to improve our situation in America, in order to become, as the character Joseph says in Adam in the Morning, “Americans,” merely coming out won’t do it. The post before last was the second of two on Tim DeChristopher and an elaboration of his thoughts on civil disobedience. According to DeChristopher, it is only through civil disobedience that we force the rule of law in our society to grow closer to what he calls the “shared higher moral code.” It is only through consciously breaking the law that we can force the law to be examined in a court of law and in the court of public opinion and therefore effect changes in the rule of law.
But if we fight, what do we fight against? Or for? At the end of the first night of fighting in the Stonewall Riots, Bo Ravich invites the gang back to his apartment for breakfast. It’s four o’clock in the morning. There’s Bo, his lover Andrew, their new friend Joseph, the handsome actor from South Central LA who plays Caliban in the current production of The Tempest and who had experience in Alabama and Mississippi in the first Freedom Rides and in Freedom Summer, and, asleep in the living room on the sofa, is Mitzi, a fifteen year old homeless girl who was a leader of the street kids in the rioting. They are sorting out what happened tonight. What did we do, when we fought New York’s finest cops all up and down Christopher Street? One of them wonders if this is the beginning of the Revolution. Joseph doubts it. “I don’t think the Revolution is going to happen. The people who have the power are too entrenched, and I don’t think we can shame them into giving up their power. I think we can fight them, like we did tonight, like you did tonight, but the fight has to be a much, much bigger thing than our battle around Sheridan Square.” Andrew, Bo’s lover, says, “So the fighting was for ourselves?” And Bo says, “Yeah, I think so. We proved we could do it, that we could fight back, and now we never have to take abuse again lying down. We had to prove to ourselves we can fight—” Andrew smiles, “—even if we don’t prove we can win.” “Yeah, right.” It’s Joseph. “We have to learn that, independent of them, we are OK.” So the fighting was for ourselves. We are different, now that we have fought, even if our opponents aren’t. We have found our courage. We have found our brothers-in-arms. We don’t ever need to take their abuse again. We are new people.
So, if we fight, we can’t lose. No matter how many men—or unjust laws—they throw against us, finding our courage to fight makes us more courageous, stronger, more formidable opponents just because we fought back. And when a LGBTQ man or woman says, I stood up for myself, whether or not he or she is able to stop his or her opponent, the LGBTQ person has made himself better, stronger, more powerful for the next fight and brought liberation one step—one day—closer. We win just by doing it.
Quotations to the talk among Bo Ravich’s friends on the question of What do we fight for?, which takes place in Bo’s kitchen after the first night of rioting in Sheridan Square, are to my novel Adam in the Morning, Boston: Adriana Books, 2010, an ebook available for purchase from http://www.dwightcathcart.net. It is one of the three novels of the Stonewall Triptych.