Watching history and making a difference
July 07, 2011
On Friday 24th, my friend and I sat huddled around a laptop streaming C-SPAN, our eyes glued on the New York State Senate. We heard Senators Diaz, Duane, and Grisanti speak. When it became apparent that the bill would pass in favor of marriage, we hurried out of our cramped Columbia dorm room, hopped on the 1 to Christopher Street, and joined the frenetic pseudo riot outside the famed Stonewall Inn. Neither of us had even been born during the real Stonewall riots in 1969. That night I felt apart of a legacy of which, being in my 20s, I have only recently become a part.
In Lower and Middle school, I had always been fascinated by history, whether it was the Ancient Egyptians or the history of my hometown, Chicago. As I moved on to high school American History, the focus shifted from ancient times to movements in the 20th century. I became enthralled by the political idealism of the radical movements in the 60s. When my favorite teacher assigned the Port Huron Statement, I read it from cover to cover. Part of the reason I chose Columbia was because of its storied reputation as a hub for students who want to make a difference.
After all these years of hearing about historical moments, it was amazing to finally live a triumph in a movement that is so close and personal. I firmly believe our generation has the ability to mobilize to gain full equality and am passionate about helping us achieve those goals. To see a little part of that happen on that Friday gave me a hope that I know will sustain us until our next victory. Seeing the hysterical happiness on everyone’s faces outside Stonewall-a mix of utter relief and incredulous emotions-and the feeling finally, finally equality had come was downright inspiring.
In Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson’s 2004 book, Why Marriage Matters, there is a quote that hits home particularly hard. Mimi Goodman, the mother of a gay child says, “I don’t think for a moment we thought we would have a child that had fewer civil rights than we have had.” It struck me that after everything we have been through as a country in the last century, that we are still denying our citizens full equality under the law. Victory in New York is monumental, but in 44 states gay children are still not equal to their parents. I hope that the inspiration from the recent success will propel our progress forward in the rest of the nation.