Posted by Christian H.
We had a sunny blue morning in NYC. At this time of year I make a special effort to enjoy sunlight at every opportunity. During the late Autumn and Winter months, I am outdoors in the sun for only 10 or 15 minutes on my way to work in the morning. The first year I worked in Midtown, another motivation for our tall glass skyscrapers became clear: without them, we 9 to 5 worker bees would forget there's a sun at all.
By the time I arrived at last night's marriage equality rally in Union Square, night had fallen and a chill was creeping into the air. Outerwear in NYC trend to blues, blacks, and very dark colors, making the crowd look homogeneous to my eye. Compared to last year's Prop 8 march, there were far fewer signs. The sound system was not effective at the rear of the crowd, and those who couldn't hear were making small talk among themselves, compounding the problem.
Fortunately, those who did carry signs had good ones. The mood at the rallies I've attended in NYC has been a mixture of anger and, somewhat oddly, happiness. This one was no different. The signs were snarky, cutting, and outraged. The people carrying the signs, however, were having a nice time. Young queers posed for photos with the signs they'd made with their friends. Friends found each other in the crowd. Lovers and spouses kissed hello and wrapped arms around each other.
This disparity used to confuse and irritate me. How can you smile, when equal rights are being denied us by cowardly politicians? How can you laugh, when the officials elected to protect and serve us are instead enforcing our status as second class citizens?
After sitting with it a while, I've decided that the good mood isn't a bad thing. Queers face daily discrimination and social stress because of who we are. There aren't very many opportunities to have 100 of us together, let alone 1,000. Who wouldn't smile, seeing a rare crowd full of friendly faces? I'm always happy to find a queer gathering that takes place outside a bar. For a few minutes, in the arms of that crowd, we're all safe. No one is going to shout names at us. We can let our guards down and smile.
And isn't that what it's all about? We have a long way to go. There are discriminatory laws to repeal and protective laws to enact. There are all kinds of cultural and social changes we need to advocate. The progress we have made cannot be allowed to lull us into complacency. But we've come far enough that we can laugh while we're fighting for our rights.
I don't care much for marriage. I agree with those who are critical of the timing of pursuing this particular element of equality. I don't understand why so many queers want into this antiquated hetero institution.
But when Christine Quinn spoke about wanting her father and her partner's father to see them dancing at their wedding...well, that got to me. It's about happiness. We are all equally entitled to pursuit of a joyful life, in whatever form that takes.
We will get there. And we'll do it with a smile, a sparkle in our eyes, and a whole lot of style.