Friday, June 26, 2015

Drag March and Marriage Madness, Keeping the Queer Flame Burning!

A favorite chant of the yearly drag march. 

A few chants stood out at tonight's drag march.

"Burn that flag!!!!"

"We don't want to merry.  We just want to fuck!"

"We're here! We're queer and we're coming for your children."


"Fuck Steven Sondheim! Fuck Stephen Sondheim!"

The forth was mostly a non sequitur, combing sartorial splendor and absurd defiance, playing to the audience, delighted that progress seemed to be being made in the corridors of power.  The affordable care act and gay marriage affirmed in two days, not bad for a conservative court. It was a tragicomic day.  People were excited and ambivalent, as New Yorkers tend to be.

Still, the supreme court win was significant.  It was a major, major win. 

As veteran journalist Andy Humm puts it: 

From the great gay journalist Steven Thrasher: "Just got off the phone with Roberta Kaplan, who argued Windsor, who explained to me all the legal ways today's case is pretty much everything we wanted, and lays the legal framework to prevent discrimination across the board in many arenas beyond marriage. 'There is nothing in it I am worried about. It states in no uncertain terms that gay people are fully protected in a manner of equality protected by the Fifth and 14th amendments. And that's what this movement has been fighting for now for decades, and for the 20 years I have been involved. This is the pinnacle of our success so far, and it is hard for me to see now that any court, anywhere, state or federal, could possibly tolerate discrimination against gay people on any basis.'

A great day for the republic. I will confess that when I heard the Star Spangled Banner being sung by LGBT people outside the Supreme Court, a tear rolled down my hard-nosed face.

I will just caution that this was a 5-4 decision. We hang by a thread. Supreme Court decisions can be reversed, though it is unlikely this one will be revisited. (We are glad the court reversed itself on anti-sodomy laws--upholding them in 1986 and declaring them unconstitutional in 2003.) My point is that this is NOT--despite this great decision and the good one on Obamacare--a liberal court. This is the court that struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. This is the Citizens United court.

The 2016 election, then, becomes more critical than ever. If Democrats do not hold onto the White House, a Republican president can appoint justices who could solidify a hard right court--especially with good justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg in such fragile health.

EVERYONE HAS TO VOTE. IN EVERY ELECTION. EVERY YEAR. The fight never ends. We celebrate today, but this is not the time to exhale."

I was mostly happy, but weary that  a 5 - 4 court decision is too close. 
STEP DOWN RGB while you are still alive and kicking. 
Don't leave this up to someone else. 
Step down RGB! #stepdownRGB! 

Still, elation poured throughout the day. 

People talked it out all day long.

Donald Grove wrote: 
I think this is great. Queer people should have anything that straight people are entitled to. And I also still think "We should be showing straight people the way, instead of begging for inclusion in their dysfunctional institutions." I get it that people want some kind of official sanction of their love, but the legal system that will back up marriage is not exactly loving, and here, as in the rest of the world, the history of marriage isn't about love, it's about defining the boundaries of kinship based property sharing. Queer couples, partners, threesomes, families are part of how I function in the world, no doubt. I can't live without queer love. But there are still a lot of things about this that I just don't get, and it's not because I don't get how important love is.

People talked it out all day long. 

Jay Blotcher wrote about his friends who are no longer here, thinking of them, wishing, they could be around celebrating this as well. 

Cleve Jones recalled Harvey:

Thank you Harvey, meeting you was the single most important event of my life. How I wish you were here to dance and celebrate with us on Castro Street tonight!

Freddie, I wish you were here to serenade and celebrate with us tonight! We are the champions!  Collective we are the champions!

We really are.  So tonight I celebrated with my city of friends at the drag march.

Greeting everyone is my favorite part of the event.

The Rev Billy and I talked about Benjamin Barber and the cathedrals of interdependence we all feel in spaces such as this.

This really is the city of friends Whitman described:

I Dream'd in a Dream
I dream'd in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the
whole of the rest of the earth,
I dream'd that was the new city of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.

The faeries welcomed the spirits from the east, west, north, and south, reminding us, there is still a hell of a lot more to do to create a better world based on affect and care, love and lust, rejecting racism, battling transphobia and poverty and that stupid American swastika, the confederate flag.  There is still a hell of a lot of work to do.

Leaving the park, we celebrated the 46 years since a riot kicked up the jam and we imagined a place beyond the rainbow, as people fought, screamed, celebrated, and created a new world, which more and more of the world are starting to see as quite lovely. 

"Burn down that flag," queers chanted along the way, referring to the fucking Confederate American Swastika.  

People cheered as we marched from Tompkins Square Part to Sheridan Square.

"Props  to the gays," a black woman, cheered joining everyone at the stonewall inn, where we sang and danced and remembered that place over the rainbow, where clouds are far behind us. 

Keep the queer flame burning, the crowd screamed.

The whole city was celebrating out on the streets. I have seen lots and lots of joyous moments, but the streets outside the stonewall inn, where all of New York converged, celebrating a brighter space for all of us, a more expansive place, where there are far more colors and expressions, beyond marriage - this was one of the most wondrous of nights I have ever seen in New York.  Just look at everyone's faces. 

Most on hand know the limits and shackles of marriage.  Being equal in the eyes of the highest court still means something.  But imagining what radical love and connection could mean, providing solidarity and support across borders and movements, that is something different.  ANd its what took shape on the streets tonight. In doing so, we (collective we) are the champions, my friend. "Trans lives matter," the crowd screamed.  "Trans lives matter." 

Still there is so much more to do. As Kate Barnhart writes:  "Now that the marriage thing is settled, can we please turn our attention to some other pressing issues facing the community such as the high rates of HIV, the thousands of homeless lgbt youth, and the lack of basic rights for transgender people?

And today, people seem up for the fight. 

But tonight everyone celebrated a decision that came after decades of struggle.  

As Jay Blotcher writes: 
No longer will we allow them to callously reduce our relationships to the merely carnal. We will defy their ignorance when they respond to our love by protesting, "Can't you keep it in the bedroom; do you have to advertise?" We who lived through the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grew courageous and fearless and defiant only after immense loss. In tribute to our lost family, friends and lovers, we will never back down again!
Keep that queer flame burning.

Burn that flag. 

Reginald Thomas Brown
Cleve Jones wrote: Thank you to all the people who have fought so hard, generation after generation, to make this day a reality. Thank you to all the plaintiffs in all the cases - you and your families were so brave. Thank you to the young people who filled the streets after Prop. 8 passed and stayed there until we won. Thank you to the lawyers, the donors, the marchers, the writers, the artists. Thank you to my beautiful LGBT community. Thank you to our straight allies. Thank you to all who did not live long enough to see equality but lived their lives openly and honestly. Thank you to the bold. Thank you to the risk-takers. Thank you to every single person who stood up and said, NO! We will wait no longer! Equality!