Cathy Renna

Pride '08 - who is standing on whose shoulders?

Filed By Cathy Renna | June 16, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California, gay marriage, gay pride, LGBT community, LGBT families, marriage, marriage equality, New York, Pride, same-sex marriage

Rosemary took in her first Pride parade in Washington DC this weekend (if she comes to me as a teenager and says "hey, I went to NY Pride when I was in the baby Bjorn at six months," I'll be pleasantly surprised). It got me thinking as she sat on my shoulders for a couple of hours. First, I had not seen my chiropractor in a long time. Second, that while she waved at the various groups that passed by, with a special affinity for anyone handing out candy or making music, we all should think about whose shoulders WE are sitting on this month.

I pointed out heroes to our community - like Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Bruce Vilanch, Dana Beyer and others, and even jumped into the Rainbow Families contingent to chat with friends and march with them for a block. I think at the very least she understood that Mommy has some wonderful friends and she will always be surrounded by them. On a day like today, when thousands of us will finally have the right to marry in California and in some cases take those certificates home and have them recognized in places like New York, it gives me great pride - and pause. This is huge - given both the size of the states involved and the real mark of progress for the marriage equality movement.

I know I will tear up as Del and Phyllis get married (again) in San Francisco and as Robin Tyler and her wife Diane finally get the license they have demanded year after year at Los Angeles City Hall. We are surely standing on their shoulders. MSNBCmarriagephoto.jpgI will never forget Mark Leno marrying Leah and I on February 2004 (later rescinded). While nothing will ever mean as much emotionally as when we exchanged vows in 2003, the joy - and subsequent pain - of our SF ceremony touched us deeply. My friends in the media (yes, we do have some) took some joy and perverse pleasure is splashing our picture online, as you can see.

So Pride '08 will surely be remembered as the year we could finally marry in California. As I prepare to work at NYC Pride, privileged to have as clients like the NYC Center (celebrating 25 years of community and vision and also Grand Marshals) and SAGE (celebrating 30 years of great work with an often invisible part of our community - LGBT seniors), the shoulders I am riding on will be right there with me. Richard Burns, the director of the Center for over 20 years and an extraordinary activist whom I admire greatly, will see his staff and volunteers recognized for their work in creating a home in NYC for all of us. Any time I spend with SAGE feels like an honor - especially when I see women like Jerre Kalbas, a founding member of SAGE, still actively volunteering at 90 years old (social committees only, thank you very much, she is still a party girl!).

This has already been quite a month to be proud of and we are only halfway through!

I leave for the office this morning knowing that every client has a stake in the CA decision and that we have a unique opportunity to tell our community's stories in so many ways - from the Family Equality Council families who have stepped up and spoken to USA Today and the Center staffer getting married in LA later this month who has spoken to more media than I can mention, to the senior couples finally getting the opportunity in their lifetime (something most never anticipated) to have their relationships legally recognized to the staff of the Advocate, who have been covering this issue for decades and have a thing or two to teach the mainstream media about history and how to cover this historic event well. We will all be busy.

I see the excitement in the eyes of our new summer interns, but it has not escaped them that the same excitement is in in our eyes too. It is clear to me that these are not young people with no sense of history - they know more than me in some ways - and are seasoned activists in their own right. I guess at the end of the day we are all standing on each others' shoulders in one way or another.

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Thank you for this amazing post, Cathy. Hearing and seeing the excitement in our community today is a truly moving experience. We have all of those that have come before us, and those that still fight on, to thank for the pride we feel today.

I am one of those interns! I agree with all that Cathy has said. The progress we are bearing witness too not only gives me a sense of hope, but serves as fuel to the fire. We are not yet done, but we have come a long way!! We can do this!!!

It's beautiful to see everyone coming together to celebrate our love. Thanks for all you've done Cathy, to make this a reality for us all.

(And I love that picture of you from!)