I cried at breakfast this morning, in a restaurant. I was glancing up at the TV when it happened. The waitress came over and asked me if everything was OK. I nodded yes, wiping my tears with my wadded up napkin.
“They’re tears of joy,” I choked out. She nodded as if she understood. I looked back up at the TV. CNN was showing people dancing and applauding because the Governor of New York just signed a bill allowing same sex marriages in my great state.
I’m not really sure why I cried so suddenly, except that I felt a sense of joy and relief. My city, once the gay mecca of the world, is back on top - in touch with the changing times.
Sadly, CNN was showing over-the-top images of half naked queens celebrating in masks and tutus - images intended to shock Saturday morning viewers out of their sleepy haze - but having the unintended consequence of causing the rest of conservative America to gag on their margarine slathered toast.
One guy I overheard looked up and said, “that’s disgusting.”
But me, I felt proud and sad. I thought of all of the friends who didn’t live to see this day. Hundreds and hundreds in fact, all lost in the 80’s to a tsunami called AIDS.
I remembered some of the all night parties with Keith Haring, Grace Jones, "Andy" and a fabulous collection of artsy people. We danced till the sun came up and the Hudson River flickered orange and blue flames of light. There was a sense of hope in the city before Reagan, before AIDS. Yes, I was a kid, but history was unfolding - and I was right in the middle of it all. It seemed back then - anything was possible.
It's hard to believe that we’ve gone so far the other way in terms of our cultural conservatism. Perhaps that’s why I cried. I thought of the Archbishop response to the possible passing of this legislation. “The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.”
That’s strange. This passage of this bill leaves me deeply hopeful. My city has finally added its voice to the song of equality and freedom for all.