I was recently in New York City visiting my youngest sister. After dinner, my sister wanted to meet up with some friends of hers and they were at The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. When she told me this, I said to myself, "Stonewall Inn, Stonewall Inn, that name sounds familiar to me?" After our meal, we proceeded to The Village and there were people everywhere and the mood was festive, excited, and celebratory. We began to make our way through the throngs of people and we quickly found out why everyone was in such a good mood. The New York State Senate was in the midst of passing a same-sex marriage bill by a 33-29 vote making same-sex marriages legal in the state of New York. New York now joined: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington D.C. as the only places in the U.S. where same-sex marriage is legal. The states of: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey are states that have approved civil unions.
As we made our way to the Stonewall Inn and I saw the red glowing neon lights in the window it hit me; yes, I had heard of The Stonewall Inn before.
The Stonewall Inn was the setting for the modern gay rights movement in the U.S. that began in 1969 due to a police raid that took place there. And on this night, it appeared that the Stonewall was the setting for the celebrations in The Village because my sister and I could not enter the Stonewall to see her friends because it had reached capacity and the police were manning the door to enforce the fire code. As we waited outside, I stood up against a storefront and observed what was taking place before me because it occurred to me that I was watching history unfold.
I watched as people were cheering, clapping, kissing, and being interviewed for the news. I overheard people exclaiming, "We can finally marry!" "I just called my parents and siblings and told them the news." "My family just called to say, 'Congratulations'." People were excitedly sharing news back and forth with one another. As I was taking in everything around me, one could pick up on the sentiment that was evident in The Village that evening that people were celebrating the fact that they were no longer being marginalized, they were standing proud and being recognized. And witnessing a group of people suddenly acquire something that they had been fighting to obtain was powerful to witness.
As we were leaving to make our way up the street since we could not enter the Stonewall due to the fire code, a cute older woman (probably in her 60's) approached us and said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but I just have to share this news with someone. I just received a text from a long-time straight friend of mine in California who herself is about to get married and she wrote, 'Congratulations, you can now get married, you married yet?' The look this 60 year old woman had on her face in front of a couple of strangers was one of elation and pride. She also possessed a smile that was not going to fade anytime soon.