Last edited: August 08, 2004


Pride, in the Name of Love

Las Vegas Mercury, July 3, 2003
P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125
Fax: 702-387-5211 

By Mike Prevatt

“The state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.”—Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, arguing for homosexuals’ right to privacy, in Lawrence vs. Texas

 “Each day now, I can feel freedom dawning in this land again. The struggle of so many for so long is beginning to come true. What a privilege, what a joy, to be alive to witness it.”—Andrew Sullivan, gay journalist

 My city’s Pride weekend was two weeks ago, and I did bupkis for it. No parade-watching, no circuit party-attending, no rainbow flag-raising—I sat at home, exhausted from a DJ gig I had to cover the night before, and wrote all afternoon. I didn’t even check the news, except maybe to see how much The Hulk had made that weekend. And yet, seven days later, had my schedule for the weekend not been so stacked with tasks and obligations, I would have gladly driven to San Francisco for its Pride festivities—not to make up for my absence at those held at home, but to witness, and participate in, what was sure to be an awe-inspiring display of identity and freedom by hundreds of thousands of reinvigorated people.

The overturning of state sodomy laws by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence vs. Texas last Thursday is at once mammoth, dramatic, vindicating and historical. Just reading one newspaper’s exhilarating headline—“Bans on Gay Sex Ruled Unconstitutional”—proved so overwhelming, I fought back tears. I shouldn’t have resisted.

On its face, this landmark ruling doesn’t mean much. Only 10 percent of the American population is estimated to be gay, and among that demographic most of those people normally enjoy expressing themselves sexually in the privacy of their own home without fear of punishment or legal scrutiny. As of last Wednesday night, only 13 states had outlawed gay sex, most of them smaller in size and population. And among those states, enforcement of sodomy laws—which also apply to heterosexual couples engaging in oral and anal sex—is rare.

Except in the case of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who were arrested in 1998 when caught having sex in Lawrence’s Houston apartment, and forced to spend a night in jail plus pay $200 in fines. A neighbor had called in a phony report about a gunman; he has since been convicted of lying to the police. Lawrence and Garner, however, fought their own guilty verdict all the way to the appeals court in Texas, which reaffirmed the state’s sodomy law. When the Supreme Court overturned it in a 6-3 vote Thursday, citing one’s right to privacy, it also discredited the decision from 1986’s Bowles vs. Hardwick case, in which the high court upheld Georgia’s ban on sodomy for both straights and gays. “Its continuance as precedent demeans the lives of homosexual persons,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said. “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today.”

I kept coming back to the word “demean” while reading article after article that Thursday. The Supreme Court—with its poker-face austerity and cold, litigious language—normally acts with respect to the law, not the happiness and well-being of those governed under it. Kennedy, however, emphasized in his report a necessary dignity for homosexuals. A heart beats within his words, reading like a near-endorsement of pride that couldn’t have been timelier. Not only has justice been served, but humanity as well. At least that’s how I interpret it.

Admittedly, I’m not old enough to wax sentimental about the Stonewall era, when gay activism was arguably most potent. I am coming of age during a time of complacency within the gay community. My generation doesn’t seem particularly worried about AIDS, legal rights or even bigotry. If this were the case, risky bareback sex wouldn’t be on the comeback trail, and bigoted “defense of marriage” laws wouldn’t be approved by such majority votes. But there’s something to be said about effort, which can be as small as subscribing to the Human Rights Campaign’s e-mail action list (at, registering to vote, being tested regularly for STDs if sexually active, looking out for each other’s safety and, most importantly, just being out and visible.

Already, there’s promise. Word has it that last weekend’s Pride celebrations in San Francisco and New York, among others, reiterated the need to strike while the iron’s hot, and fight for legal rights last Thursday’s broad ruling would seemingly encourage. In other words, now that the party’s over, it’s time to work. We need to balance our newfound sexual legitimacy with an urgent and widespread campaign demanding the same entitlements already benefiting our heterosexual brethren. After all, sex isn’t everything, right?

  • The Homeowner appears biweekly. Send your comments, questions and nude pics (especially if you look like Alessandro Nivola) to

[Home] [Editorials] [Nevada]