Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Gay Pride

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Gay Pride. Last night, I went to the movies with my friends, Thomas and Richard, a couple who have been together for 24 years. After the movie, we walked over to the Christopher Street subway stop to head back uptown. Before getting on the subway, we went by the Stonewall Inn. Richard explained the history and significance of the Inn to me and how it served as the stage for the tipping point of the gay rights movement in what would become known as the Stonewall Riots.

We enjoyed watching the crowd in the neighborhood, and read the newspaper clippings and admired the replica of Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz dress in the window of the Stonewall Inn. (Judy Garland, a hugely popular gay icon, died several days before the Stonewall Riots began and her funeral was held the day before the riots.) It's important to bear witness, to remember how difficult and frightening a time was for people courageous enough to stand up for themselves. And while it's easy to consider how far we still have to go on certain human rights issues such as gay marriage, it's equally important to celebrate how much has been accomplished in the 40 years since Stonewall.

In New York State, we are on the cusp of legalizing gay marriage. If passed, we'd be the 7th state to legalize gay marriage. Gay marriage and the equal treatment of gay Americans is the civil rights issue of our time. I am certain that decades from now, we will look back on this period as one of embarrassment and shame. I cannot fathom how anyone would deny the basic rights of another human being based on their sexuality. Are the movements that led to equal treatment of women and ethnic minorities any different than what the gay community now faces? If two gay people want to get married, what bearing does that have on two straight people who are married? Who are we to stand in judgement of someone else's lifestyle?

I hope the concept of denying gay marriage never makes sense to me. I hope to never understand why a portion of the straight population is so convinced that the gay population is ruining the sanctity of marriage. What I do hope happens is that the very politicians and their supporters who are fighting so hard against gay marriage, the same ones who are so quick and earnest to dismiss their own issues of infidelity, will find a way to see the world and the rights of all people through new eyes.

I hope that someday we will look at all people as equal, gender, sexual orientation, race, and religious beliefs aside. I hope that someday very soon, my gay friends are afforded the same right to union and happiness that my straight friends and I have. I hope that very soon the gay rights movement becomes something for history books - a time that we collectively look back on, and shakes our heads in wonder, asking "why did it take so long for simple justice?"


Laura Cococcia said...

So great to see this post and the context is so educational...I was bummed I couldn't go to the festivities in Chicago this weekend (a bit sick, but recovering, hooray!), but you made me feel as if I was there in NYC! :)

Christa said...

Thanks, Laura. I really hope we are seeing the next tipping point with the legislation currently pending in NYC.