This week 42 years ago was the official beginning of the Gay Rights Movement in NYC. The Stonewall Riots are really what got things moving. And through the years, things have been very stop and go.
It's not that long ago that I was in college in Lancaster, PA. There was all of one gay bar, The Tally Ho, and going there meant sometimes putting your welfare in danger. People would drive by and chuck things at us. My girlfriend and I were terrified to hold hands. We were THE ONLY openly gay couple on a campus of 8,000 people. Even the local cops knew us. We fought hard for any sort of respect on campus, often thwarted by uber Christian Right groups in a very Catholic town. We did what we could to open people's eyes, to show them that we are just like everyone else, including implementing a "Speak Out" program in which we went to invited classrooms to tell our stories and answer questions. It helped. A lot. But it's always been a long battle.
This past weekend, NY became the 6th State to pass an equal marriage law. Notice I said "equal marriage" as opposed to "gay marriage"? Although...all marriages should be gay! As in happy! All should also be equal, but hey, I can't make either of those happen. However, I think it is important that if our Constitution says that we are all created equal, then our laws should uphold that.
NY passing this law effectively doubles the number of people in our country now able to marry whomever they choose (except, you know, your cousin or other blood relative). It's about time. And for such a large state, with such an influential status, to pass this is a huge thing.
Pride this weekend was a victory party, with stories of lovers able to marry partners after years and years and years.
I can only hope it continues, spreads...that recognition of equality becomes the norm instead of a battle.
42 years is a long time...let us hope that it doesn't take another 42 years for this to become the norm.