Coming into my adolescence during the late fifties and the early 1960's was a very trying time for me and I assume for others in my circumstance. I came from a middle-class suburban family. My mother was a stay at home housewife, like all other June Cleavers of the time. Father worked his nine to five job, and commuted into the city Monday to Friday. We were one of the first families on our street to own a television and my father placed very strict rules on it's use. It was made of cherry wood with two doors that concealed the fact that it was a television, the only give away being the rabbit ears that sat on top of the console. The year was 1958. I had known for a very long time that I was different from other boys, and other boys knew I was different. After coming home from school bloodied on more then one occasion I went to my room and tried to kill myself by hanging. My older brother walked into the bedroom, pulled me down, and saved my life. He taught me how to box as a means of protecting myself from the from the school yard bullies. I never resorted to fist fights, I tried to hide my sexuality and become less feminine in my actions. Still I was taunted and bullied all through my school years. I started shaving when I was seventeen and I couldn’t wait for my voice deepen and to grow body hair so I would appear more masculine. Unfortunately, for me neither happened. I thought I was the only queer in the village, so to speak. What few friends I had were from my childhood and they were definitely straight. By the time I was twenty, even my closest of childhood friends drifted away; through girl friends and different interests in general. This caused me to become quite a loner, as I found it hard to make new friends. Always trying to hide my true self, I would rarely speak around strangers in fear my voice would give me away. I never went to the beach or public swimming pools. I always wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt, to hide the fact that I had no body hair. One Saturday afternoon while walking home a guy in a car pulled up to me asking for directions. After giving them to him he offered to give me a lift. I gratefully accepted and got into his car. That was my first encounter with a gay man. He was twenty-eight and I was twenty-one. We enjoyed a weeknight relationship. He taught me the ropes, if you will, about being gay. He took me to the spots that were frequented by other gay men, the park, the bar, movie theater, book store and such. He was my friend, my lover, my mentor. Gary opened my eyes to a whole new world. But that world of 1969 was a place of secrets and hiding. Gay was another word for happy, being queer was something that was never mentioned and nothing you felt proud of. Those that were thought to be queer were chastised and beaten. Bars could not serve three or more queers drinks, if they did they could loose their license, for operating a bawdy house and be shut down. Bars that were known to serve queers were raided regularly by police, patrons arrested and charged with lascivious conduct. The bar was often closed for a period of time before reopening. Police not only raided bars they raided book stores, parks, movie theaters, bath houses and gyms. Names of those arrested appeared in the local newspapers. Following these publications the men listed would often time, loose their jobs and finding new work was nearly impossible; and marriages, families and friendships were torn apart. Queer bashing was rampant and were never reported to police, as often time the police participated themselves in such actions. It was against the law of that time to be dressed in the clothing of the opposite sex. To kiss or even hold hands with someone of the same sex, could bring arrest and a criminal charge of lewd behavior. Any sexual act with someone of the same sex was classified as buggery; lascivious conduct was illegal even if taking place in your own home, between two consenting adults. The criminal offense of anal or oral copulation by penetration of the male organ into the anus or mouth of another person of either sex was an arrestable crime of having commerce contrary to the order of nature, by mankind with mankind, the punishment upon conviction was a fine, imprisonment, or both. After attending a Halloween party. Gary and I left a bar together and were confronted by a group of guys armed with baseball bats and tire irons. As a young man I took precautions when out at night and I knew how to defend myself. Against a mod we didn't stand a chance. I was hospitalized for sixteen weeks, Gary died on the street that night. No arrests were ever made.. June 27th 2011 will mark the forty-second anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the Pride Movement. Many changes in the right directions have been made; since the drag queens and queers in the early hours of that fateful June morning, found the inner strength to say no more and fought back. There is still a long way to go. Politicians and Pastors are quick to condemn homosexuals, and gay marriages are not widely accepted as being lawful. Police still conduct raids and stings in known gay haunts. Gay bashers and bullies persist in their percussion of those that appear to be different. Gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts and the numbers increase exponentially during the holidays. A recent study showed that thirty-five percent of gay men and thirty-eight percent of lesbians have considered or attempted suicide. The statistics are even higher among gay teens. This June, when you participate in the gay parades or festivities around them, stop to reflect on and remember those that marched before you. Those that stood up to oppression. Without them you you would still be hiding in secret. Gay pride is not about our right to be to be gay and flaunt it. It is about our right to live without oppression. How many more homosexual teens, men and women will take their own lives, or be beaten down, humiliated and brutalized before we learn the lessons of Stonewall, and mankind becomes tolerant of those that are different?