Monday, May 18, 2009

Contrast

The contrast between two marriage rallies yesterday in NYC couldn't have been greater. In the early part of the day I jumped uptown to attend an anti-marriage equality rally organized mostly by a group of Hispanic and Latino church goers who despite their insistence that Jesus loves us feel very strongly that gays do not deserve equal rights.

The number of people defending the gay name and standing up for marriage equality was small if not minute. A smattering of the usual faces with a dab of young lesbians. Small signs and a few banners. We were outnumbered 10,000 to 30. We stood at our barricades, mostly in silence, and held our signs as men and women, old and young, many accompanied by a small child yelled, "One man and one woman!" "Read the bible!" "Jesus loves you!" and "God bless you!" As a Jew, all this Jesus/God bless you stuff is always hard to stomach but when you see first hand the degree to which these people truly dislike you and use God's name to defend their twisted logic it leaves the feeling of a sucker punch to the soul. Their "God bless you" and "Jesus loves you!" reeked of being inauthentic and that was later proved when the sound of their mass applause carried up several blocks into our ears. It sounded like an army preparing for a battle. Combative, charged and ghastly. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of hate. It was ugly and simple in it's color. Black and white. The people rejoicing in their efforts to keep gays as second class citizens were bleak and boring, scared and traditional. Old world. They showed nothing but commitment to keeping this world as colorless and dry as possible. As I write this I'm still trying to shake the shiver of hearing their roaring applause traveling upwind. It was clear sooner than later that this was an anti gay rally and had little to do with marriage.

But the protest ended and those of us remaining shook hands and went our separate ways until the pro-marriage rally later in the day. Weighed down by what I just experienced I was craving a distraction. Some reminder that despite the mass of people I just witnessed that there are people who love us, who care for us and would like to see us equal. I ran into Elmo in Time's Square and he helped cheer me up. We both thanked Governor Paterson for supporting marriage equality and a smile returned to my face.

At 5PM at 45th St. and 6th Ave. a mass of young and old, gay and straight, white, Black, Asian, Latino, Everything gathered in celebration of equal rights and marriage. Immediately the crowd was everything the morning crowd wasn't. We were full of life, optimism and energy. Color flowed out from everyone as did hugs and handshakes, smiles and "how are ya's." Our signs were smart and creative. This is when everything started to feel a lot better because I was reminded what gay is and why we're fighting for equal rights. Because we matter. Because our color and contribution to this country, to this world, matters and I'll be damned if the color we bring to the fabric of humanity goes unnoticed and remains unequal. While the morning's anti-marriage rally featured men in suits and black clothing ours featured vibrancy and singing and the perfect combination of comedy and anger. It was all a very nice moment and to have our Governor and Mayor speak to us, in support of us, gave a certain validation that things are going to change. Those people at the morning's rally will be on the losing end of this fight. We aren't going anywhere any time soon and I know we will keep rallying, keep screaming and keep bringing color to this world until our voices are heard and our lives and families appreciated.

7 comments:

Stephen said...

I was directed ton your blog by J.M.G. & I am glad Is topped by.That was an amzing & insightful posting. Thanks you for that. I will back to read more. Best wishes from Portland!

David said...

Sorry I didn't get to see your mug at the rally. I got there a little late but really enjoyed the feeling of community. I'm scared about the Senate vote but we gotta keep fighting. I'm working up the nerve to go after my Republican Senator even more than I have so far.

truthspew said...

To the ones that spout "Read your Bible" I say, read it yourself. Then I challenge them to live out, say, the book of Leviticus, the whole book and not just that part about homosexuality.

Or maybe they'd like to peruse the writings of Saul of Tarsus aka St. Paul. Not only was old Paul a misogynist (See 1 Timothy) he hated gay people too.

Oh yes, we have a sizable Latino population here in RI too, mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican. I don't see them fighting all that hard against my rights.

Greg II said...

Like Stephen, I came to your site through JMG & I am also glad that I did - truly a lovely piece on the rallies that happened in NY and the contrasts between the two. I keep track of the Gay political sites from here in Oz, as we have yet to really start the same sex marriage debate and fight here (our government recently did a DOMA on us too!).
The debate seems to be starting though (thanks to what all you guys and gals are doing in the USA! The actions in the US are pushing the issue over here) and it is fascinating watching the Christian Right in Australia attacking the issue in the same vein as yours have. I hope thay keep going down that path, because in the end, they will be recognised for the real bigots that they are.
I'll certainly be checking this site from now on too (have added you to my ever growing list of Gay Pol sites ). Keep up the good work you guys!!!!! We're all rooting for you down under!

Boomer said...

Nice piece about the contrasts in the events. Adorable pic of you and Elmo (who is fuzzier?) and sorry you got a little slammed by one of the commenters at JMG...just jealous I guess.

ewe said...

I saw you and your puppy dog eyes there passing by while i was conversing with someone. You were there right from the start
(5pmish). Great group of people. I was so fullfilled to hear the speakers using the word "love" over and over again. It was inspiring.

JustMe said...

adorable Elmo picture!