The President of the United States mentioned Stonewall in his inaugural address. Let that sink in for a minute. Ronald Reagan did nothing about HIV until 1987 because it was seen as a “gay disease” and well, who cares if they’re dying. In thirty years we’ve gone from a president refusing to mention a deadly disease until near the end of his second term to a president linking Stonewall to Seneca Falls and Selma as important moments for civil rights.
It may be symbolic, but sometimes symbolism matters. I’ve been spending the last few days reading research responses from LGBT kids writing about how this country’s laws make them feel like they’re lesser Americans. For the President of the United States to explicitly make clear that LGBT people are part of of “We the People,” that we’re not lesser, that our struggle for rights is part of the longer history of struggle to make this country more equal sends a powerful message.