“LOVE IS STRONGER THAN HATE!”
In early February there was a rally in front of the Stonewall Inn in downtown NYC, the LGBT Solidarity Rally. Scheduled originally to protest intended anti-LGBTQ action that the new administration was considering, the rally went on despite the action’s rejection by the president. Instead of a protest, it became more of an embrace by the LGBTQ community of any and everyone affected by laws that exclude, especially the executive order (now stayed by the courts) for the 90 day/120 day travel ban on refugees and anyone from 7 Muslim majority countries.
“We are allies, united in our Otherness…”
Cynthia Nixon, famous Sex and the City actress, was one of many who spoke to the growing crowd as the day went on. There was a sense of camaraderie in the air: as different people got up to share their stories, the crowd cheered them and yelled out (frequently) “we love you!” or, to this trans lady from Ecuador, “You’re beautiful!”
She and another trans lady spoke about how they fled to the United States from Latin America to escape persecution; refugees of sexual orientation. Another man stood up and spoke quite movingly about how he was subjected to conversion therapy back in his American home town, before he came to New York City.
It’s OK though, he said, because “We KNOW who we are!” The crowd whistled and applauded, with big smiles and showing of support all around. I attended the rally with a very dear friend, who has had his own struggles through life, coming out in the 1980s, and living through the AIDs crisis and the death of those he loved. I was so happy to be there with him, and everyone else in front of Stonewall that day, for this show of love and acceptance, in the face of intolerance. And the crowd continued to grow, even as the temperature dropped lower and lower.
More speakers, including a group of kids from the Ali Forney Center, a most worthwhile organization that helps homeless teens in New York City. Many of the homeless kids in our city are LGBT – kicked out of their homes by unaccepting families, living on the streets with nowhere to go. Please donate to this group if you can, it’s so important. The kids were super happy to be there!
Several politicians were there too, including Senator minority leader Chuck Schumer, who was quite animated, yelling “Dump Trump!”
“Drain the Golf Courses” gets the award from me for wittiest sign – turns out that the lady holding it was Kate Clinton, a famous satirist.
This “American Christian Radical,” as he called himself, moved slowly through the crowd.
“Alt-Fact Kelly” was the unofficial greeter outside the Stonewall. Loved her hairy legs.
This sweet looking man in the gold fur coat was, as his sign read, “Gay and Immigrant and Proud.”
There was a lot of talk at the rally about the intersectionality of the issues – especially LGBTQ and immigration. Many people waved signs in the air that said, simply, “&.” Refugees of politics, or religion, or culture, have many of the same problems and issues, and this Solidarity rally was really about coming together in love, for strength.
So many messages – all saying the same basic thing – NO HATE.
How can anyone not be for that, right?
And maybe just to emphasize that point, the following Sunday, Feb 12th, was the enactment of the next LGBTQ rally in New York City – the “make-out” rally in front of Trump Tower. Valentine’s Day inspired, maybe? Anyway, if the weather at the Solidarity rally was cold (it was), this one was even worse. Sleet and icy rain pelted down on the small but determined crowd of (mostly) millennials, as they sang, danced to Marvin Gaye and Wild Cherry songs, and kissed on Fifth Avenue.
It was a sweet little party. Men and women, women and women, men and men, all kissed and smiled and danced and hugged and held hands in the rain.
This man had a very specific message, with an orange hat and orange tinted glasses to emphasize the point. As they say in the comic books, flame on brother!
The mood was infectious, especially when one of the organizers did a count down for the final kiss before it was time to end the festivities. Even the NYC cops, stoically standing in the rain guarding the revelers, were smiling. Besides the issues, besides the politics, again I am reminded of how much I love the spirit of New Yorkers.
The first month of this new administration has been tumultuous to say the least. And in New York City, proclaimed as a sanctuary city by Mayor DeBlasio, the rallies and protests will, I’m sure, go on as it continues. But the energy of these kids kissing and dancing for a more tolerant society to become something that needs not to be fought for, but something that is a matter of course, will, I hope, sustain us all.