Inspired by the events of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village, New York City, Wilson Wong shares the story of two young rabbits.
Once upon a time, in the heart of a beautiful forest, there lived a wise old owl named Christopher. He was known throughout the land for his knowledge, fairness, and gentle nature. One day, as Christopher perched on a sturdy branch, he noticed two young rabbits, named Benjamin and Al, playing, and frolicking together under the warm sun.
Christopher flew down to greet the rabbits. “Greetings, young ones,” he hooted. “I couldn’t help but notice the joy you both radiate. What brings you such happiness today?”
Benjamin and Al smiled at each other, their eyes shining with love. Benjamin, the more outspoken of the two, replied, “Oh, dear Christopher, it is our love for one another that fills our hearts with such joy.”
Christopher nodded, his wise eyes twinkling. He knew that love was a powerful force. “Love is a precious gift,” but added. “My young friends, the world can be a challenging place. Not everyone will understand or accept your love.”
Al, the gentler of the two rabbits, spoke softly. “We know, wise Christopher. But we love each other, and we will face whatever challenges come our way together.”
Impressed, Christopher shared a fable.
Once, in a distant wetland, lived countless flocks of birds – big, small, colourful, and plain, flyers, swimmers, runners – all kinds. Among them were two birds named Alex and Jo. They were of the same gender but shared a deep and abiding love for one another.
Benjamin and Al listened intently as Christopher continued his tale.
Alex and Jo flew gracefully together, their wings in perfect harmony. Their love brought warmth to the hearts of all who saw them. However, not all the birds were as accepting. Many squawked with disapproval, while others simply turned away. There were even those who tried to campaign for Alex and Jo to leave the wetlands.
In a corner of the wetlands, surrounded by scrub, was the Tree of Compassion. Its branches reached out in all directions, offering shelter, and understanding to those in need. She/They heard the two young birds and she/they whispered to the winds, spreading seeds of hope throughout the wetlands.
These whispers carried a potent magic, and soon all those who loved as LGBTQ+ started meeting and playing together in the scrub near the Tree of Compassion. They started regular ‘sip in’ parties. They held conversations, both heartfelt and honest, breaking through barriers of fear and misunderstanding. They shared stories of love, faith, and the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ birds. These conversations, like nourishing rain, began to quench the thirst for acceptance within the emerging community. To spread the word, they published the Village Voice, and this diverse noisy love grew under the branches.
But not everyone turned to understanding and acceptance. Many didn’t believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all birds, and the diversity of sexual orientation or gender identity. These birds organised hate campaigns against the LGBTQ+ birds and their allies. The police birds, politician birds, and the religious birds encouraged this division.
The wise old tree saw the turmoil caused by this lack of understanding and whispered, “Love is a gift,” “It blooms in many different forms, and it is not our place to judge or deny it.”
United by the shared goal of expelling the LGBTQ+ birds, the hate groups organised a raid during one of the LGBTQ+ sip ins. They beat the birds for wearing gender inappropriate plumage and badges, they charged them with imaginary crimes, and they accused them of sin and debauchery.
The LGBTQ+ birds were caught off guard as there was no sign that this hate for them had come to such a head. But the LGBTQ+ birds were united, and they rallied. The wise tree called across the wetlands and the LGBTQ+ allies joined in support. The factions fought and after five days, those who preached hate finally retreated.
Bloodied but triumphant, the LGBTQ+ birds woke up to a new dawn, knowing they were united in love for one another. They were siblings-in-arms, proud and confident, defending their right to love differently. They formed support groups, hosted educational workshops, organised annual Pride marches, and invited LGBTQ+ birds far and wide to join and learn.
The Wetlands Uprising of the LGBTQ+ birds became part of folklore. Their story of hope, and courage inspired generations of activists. From this Uprising emerged LGBTQ+ networks, support groups, campaigns, art, music, literature bringing understanding and compassion. More and more people, parents of LGBTQ+ children, politicians, religious leaders began to listen to these stories of resistance, of love, of hope, of courage, and of hurt, and began to accept that LGBTQ+ love can true. More birds realised that love, regardless of its shape, species, or colour, could bring joy and happiness to all who embraced it. The wetlands became a place of acceptance and love, as the birds celebrated their diversity, a beacon of hope to LGBTQ+ birds the world over.
But hate and hurt are never far away. Police birds, politician birds, religious birds and hate birds continue to deny that LGBTQ+ birds have any right to express their diverse expressions of love. Many LGBTQ+ birds live under the threat of death, rejection, discrimination, and harm daily. LGBTQ+ birds continued to campaign and celebrate Pride to remind birds everywhere that many LGBTQ+ siblings need our love and support so they may have hope of the sunny uplands ahead.
Benjamin and Al looked at each other, understanding the meaning behind the fable. Christopher smiled, knowing that his words had touched their hearts. Remember, dear friends, “love has the power to overcome any obstacle. Stay true, Stay united. Remember the wetland birds. LGBTQ+ love is costly but when united, that love can overcome anything.”
And so, the two rabbits, Benjamin, and Al, hopped away paw in paw, their love shining brightly like fireflies. Inspired by the fable and the wisdom of the wise old owl, they knew that their love would bring not only happiness to their own lives but also the hope of acceptance and understanding to those around them. And their love story became a part of the forest’s tapestry, a reminder that love knows no boundaries and that embracing diversity makes the world a brighter and more beautiful place for all.
*Inspired by the story of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village New York City, and assisted in part by ChatGPT.