Cathy Renna

History at the Stonewall Inn

Filed By Cathy Renna | June 25, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: marriage equality, New York, same-sex marriage, stonewall

Updated: Video below!

Stonewall.jpgIt was only by coincidence that I was in Manhattan overnight, working on a press conference announcing a new coalition and campaign for homeless LGBT youth, ironically at the Stonewall Inn with Stonewall veterans who were homeless youth in 1969. It also became clear this afternoon that the vote would be happening on marriage equality in New York. So I found myself back at the Stonewall Inn just a few hours later to witness history.

As a life-long New Yorker, I am so proud that my home state has joined the other states and D.C. that give same-sex couples the right to marry. It was a huge celebration in front of the Stonewall Inn on Friday night - the annual drag march was ending in front of the bar as it always does and everyone stayed as we heard the vote was happening. The crowd grew. And grew. And grew. I knew I was standing in the right place at a moment when history was about to be made.

It's very late as I write this, and I just got booked on a 7am live morning television news segment, so I will just give you some highlights from the celebration:

  • Loving that while we waited for the vote we danced to YMCA and Lady Gaga.
  • Running into Gilbert Baker, gay icon, our gay Betsy, and helping him (and a dozen other people) hold a 90 foot banner that said "New York loves Gay Marriage." He made it three years ago and has been waiting to use it ever since.
  • Like a beacon, the Stonewall Inn is a place where we have both suffered and celebrated and it is the place we gather when our community celebrates victories or mourns defeat
  • The couples kissing - and crying - when the vote was announced. Some folks on bended knee proposing.
  • Loving the amazing diversity of people - young, older, every race, color and part of our community - there was even a spontaneous hora circle that got the crowd going and chanting.

My only regret is that while I was there with friends, the most important people in the world to me were not there to share this with - Leah and Rosemary (who better have been in bed!) are home safe and sound and I cannot wait to get home to them tomorrow.

Now all we need to do is figure out where there is a justice of the peace so Leah can make an honest women out of me.

There are so many other issues and challenges our community faces, and while we can check New York marriage equality off the list, I hope we (especially in NY) can look at the myriad other inequalities we must take on. It was sobering to spend time with young people thrown out of their homes and onto the streets hours before in the exact spot where we celebrated tonight. If the Stonewall Inn is our touchstone, let's not forget what happened outside in 1969, 2011 and all the years in between.

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Jay Kallio | June 25, 2011 8:18 AM

Cathy, you were awesome on ABC News this morning! So good to see you. As one of those ex homeless LGBT youths I couldn't make it to the Stonewall last night to see you there, health not permitting, but I was so there in spirit.

Onward to GENDA, and to creating support, homes, and opportunity to LGBTQ homeless youth like never before, immigration rights, overturning DOMA, and making the world safe for all LGBTQ people wherever we live. We will never stop until justice prevails! :)

The mood was still jubilant when Bil, Jerame and I got to Stonewall about 12:30am. There were thousands inside and outside, people asking each other "can you believe this happened?" The entire street was blocked off and the energy of the crowd was a living thing. We walked several blocks away to a restaurant and there were people walking in the street waving Pride flags excitedly, and spontaneous cheering at various points on the avenue as we shuffled amazedly along. I am still pinching myself.

Jay Kallio | June 25, 2011 11:36 AM

Cathy, you were awesome on ABC News this morning! So good to see you. As one of those ex homeless LGBT youths I couldn't make it to the Stonewall last night to see you there, health not permitting, but I was so there in spirit.

Onward to GENDA, and to creating support, homes, and opportunity to LGBTQ homeless youth like never before, immigration rights, overturning DOMA, and making the world safe for all LGBTQ people wherever we live. We will never stop until justice prevails! :)

I wish I'd run into you on the street outside, Cathy. I did get to see Rich Ferraro, Andrew Belonsky, and Jill Weiss though, so it made for a joyous night. :)

I highly recommend this piece from Zagria and her excellent 'Gender Variance Who's Who' blog on the Stonewall. it's a wonderful companion piece to the anniversary of the riots and the recent celebrations:

http://zagria.blogspot.com/2011/06/stonewall-inn.html

Hmm, interesting report on how the police really did a job triggering the riots, and on trans people there, although following the links and reading what eventually happened to them is a real downer.

But "Gender Variance" is such a hate term. How different is it to "gender deviance"? Some professionals have taken to using it for transsexual children, since it implies they don't have any idea what their gender is. You cannot get more hateful than that.

At a meeting on trans at a professional nursing conference recently, one long-term friend of our cause interjected to a presenter using that term that she thought it very unfortunate, since amongst biologists variance means differences that make the organism separate from the original type. In other words, she said, it made us seem to be claiming not to be human.

Given that we often do have to start with establishing whether people do regard us as human (as opposed to things, or demons inhabiting human bodies), that is particularly apposite.