50 years after Stonewall

Yuval Noah Harari in The Guardian:

In 1969, when the New York police raided the Stonewall Inn and encountered unexpected resistance from LGBT protesters, homosexuality was still criminalised in most countries. Even in more tolerant societies, venturing out of the closet was often akin to social and professional suicide. Today, in contrast, the prime minister of Serbia is openly lesbian and the prime minister of Ireland is proudly gay, as are the CEO of Apple and numerous other politicians, businesspeople, artists and scientists. In the United States, the average Republican today holds far more liberal views on LGBT issues than the average Democrat held in 1969. The argument has moved from “should the state imprison LGBT people?” to “should the state recognise same-sex marriage?” (and almost half of Republicans support same-sex marriage). That said, about 70 countries still criminalise homosexuality today.

…Nothing has been determined yet, and however gloomy the future may seem to some of us, in 1969 the future looked ever gloomier. In the end, most of the dystopian scenarios that frightened people in 1969 did not materialise, because many people struggled to prevent them. If you wish to prevent the dystopian scenarios of the 21st century, there are many things you can do. But the most important thing is to join an organisation. Cooperation is what makes humans powerful. Cooperation is what the Stonewall riots were all about. They were the moment when a lot of individual suffering crystallised into a collective movement. Until Stonewall, LGBT people conducted isolated survival struggles against a terribly unjust system. After Stonewall, enough people organised together to change the system itself.

The lesson of Stonewall is as true today as it was in 1969, and is relevant to all humans, not just to those who identify as LGBT. Fifty people working together as members of an organisation can accomplish far more than 500 individuals. Technology now poses the greatest challenges in our history. To cope well with these challenges, we need to organise. I cannot tell you which organisation to join – there are many good options – but please do it soon. Do it this week. Don’t sit at home and complain. It is time to act.

More here.

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