Six blocks away, tucked in my uber-quiet apartment, I could hear the cheering. I, self-sequestered in on a mid-summer’s balmy Friday eve for an early work sesh upstate the next am, at 11pm, was already in a nightshirt. Everyone else was out, er… literally.
I could feel the energy reverberate through my thick pre-war walls, and had to get out there.
“This is history. I can’t miss this.”
Throwing a trench over the nightshirt, slithering into white linen shorts and never-minding the lack of undergarments, I grabbed keys, and set off on an angle into the West Village night.
The air was damp, voluptuous with heat. Coursing through, you could feel it: the electricity of love. A buzzing overtook my body as I physiologically experienced the emotional temperature of the event. Growing closer, my smile was authentic, broad, tingling, automatic.
I passed the classic Monster Bar on Grove, curved around Sheridan Square, and there in front of Christopher Street and 7th Avenue South, gingerly stepped around the light police guardrail to float into what I can only describe as a sea of love.
Never. Never… have I seen New Yorkers so ebullient. It was a bliss of relief, a repression of decades, centuries, lifted; a dawning of a new age where love had triumphed. And that’s how it was described over and again on facebook, with countless expressions of pride from people across the rainbow in spectrum of sexual preference. An avalanche of bright, sparkly happiness.
That night, I cannot even tell you, in front of the historic Stonewall Inn, site of the riots precisely this week 41 years ago, the love was physically palpable.
I am speaking, of course, of last week’s decision for the New York lawmakers to finally allow gay marriage in the state of New York, the 7th State (as well as District of Columbia) to get onboard in the U.S. Mind-bogglingly, 29 states still hold a constitutional bans against gay marriage.
Obviously there is no need to preach to the choir here, if you are reading this, with this topic at least, I am pretty sure-as-shootin’ we agree on the importance of equality.
No one was out in my high school, although when, in the early 1990’s, I first went to theatre camp upstate in the Catskills, private school New York kids attended from progressive families, able to be accepted, and happily flamboyant at 14. At my gay Catholic church Chelsea wedding a decade ago, four of my “bridesmaids” were gay men and Broadway star friends sang from West Side Story in the ceremony. (The marriage didn’t work out, but the love and respect for each other did.) My dearests are celebrity interior designers and those who helped push this bill forward. Needless to say, my social calendar is about to get seriously more fabulous, tout de suite.
Ok, so aside from the people who majored in musical theatre, enjoy being glamorous and have a great aesthetic, what is holding the rest of America (and I’ll say America here, because really, Europe, Australia, even Canada are SO much more socially progressive) back from getting on board here?
Well fear, of course. That’s what holds any of us back, isn’t it?
However I proffer it is not fear of something being too outlandish or dirty or sinful, I really think at the core is a fear of loss of tradition. As the right would put it: as a loss of a value system.
I am an unconventional woman. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I don’t believe in rules, boundaries, social mores or constructs the rest of society at large adopts to work and life. Obvi. However (much to some of my liberal friends’ surprise as they get to know me,) in the same breath I am a deep traditionalist. Tradition, marriage, family, social graces, manners, style are the fabric of society—this not only holds us together but weaves a tapestry of respect and a consciousness of reverence for our human interaction, which is, of course, everything.
Rebellion is dismissed and causes conflict when tradition is thrown out the window. Often I see youthful writers waxing on the “changing of the world” and the problem is, if there is no grounding in wisdom and experience, it is just that: rebellion, and dismissed as such.
The same holds true in our spiritual evolution or consciousness. So many people have rebelled against the construct of religion, banning a God bound by rules and boundaries, instead of cultivating ritual or grace in a way that is personal, authentic and intimate.
The religious right are worried that reverence will be taken out of marriage. (Don’t worry sweethearts, we’re all New York Times announcements, gourmand formality and exquisite taste in these parts; respect for love and marriage and the unfolding of the lives of individuals in love will be given and celebrated in their due.)
Being unconventional does not mean having to be untraditional. Loving is the new liberal. Generosity the new “cool.” Manners and grace, the du rigeur ensemble. Anger? Please, that’s so last millennium.
I feel like people who have class don’t actually ever use that word, but that is what we are missing. As we morph to a life outside the lines, as our structures fall apart and we emerge anew, please people, let us not forget: class.
If we’re pushing, in area are of our life, it’s not effortless. For the lazy midsummer, perhaps we can sit back and see where it is we can infuse more grace.
It is time to define a life, a world, a paradigm that works for us. Our freedom is in our choice, and I, for one, would like to do it in style.