A spontaneous act of resistance to police harassment by a few disgruntled trans-girls forty-two years ago was the seed for change that inspired a nation.
We all known about Sylvia Rivera and Tish and others who ignited the flame that exploded into the Stonewall Riots – the official launch for the gay-rights movement --, but the changes over the past four decades have been slow and incremental.
So you need to step back to really absorb the enormity of the historic changes their actions inspired.
The gay community now works in jobs across this nation and no longer huddles in bars hiding from the mainstream; transgender women have risen in the arts, business, and politics: Amanda Simpson became the first presidential appointee as she began work at the U.S. Commerce Department; Diego Sanchez, the first trans person hired for a senior congressional position.
The 2011 NYC Pride Parade was the perfect setting for both celebration and reflection. When last year I witnessed participants from all over the world, as well as the NYPD contingent -- the very same police department who opposed Sylvia and friends forty two years ago --walking step in step with the whole of the GLBT community, it took my breath away.
While the Pride parade is just that – a celebration of Pride in who one is, unwilling to bend to the expectations of who others think they should be – this year’s parade was a celebration of historic achievement: the passage of same-sex marriage in the state of New York. A giant step towards that elusive concept of equality for all.
You might wonder ... "What does that have to do with me?" I'll get to that, but first politics is heavy, and parades are FUN! So I have to tell you that the mood was intoxicatingly jubilant, and contagious.
While politicians are quick to talk the talk to get the GLBT votes at election time, Andrew Cuomo walked the walk and brought about change in the midst of political confrontation and enormous challenges against him.
So where ever you happen to live, take a moment to share in the victory here for citizen equality. Because equal is equal, and that applies across all boundaries of gender, sex, race, religion and any other category within or societies --- as it ought to be.
Then it was off to the pier dance! And as always, it was fabulous.