Gay men and women the world over will celebrate the birth of the modern gay rights movement Monday. The faithful will pilgrimage to the Stonewall Inn where forty years ago men in stockings and pumps stood up to their government-approved bullies, the New York City police department. They rioted for days. Thousands from around the city joined in. They resisted arrest, looted buildings, harassed officers, got arrested and sparked the modern gay rights movement that demands equality, that seeks to erode stereotypes, and whose mascot is a colorful six color rainbow flag.

That rainbow hued spirit cast into the universe forty years ago on the streets of New York City has grown nearly indistinguishable from its early roots. And today there is an increasing number of politicians, celebrities and leaders joining us at the Gay Pride party.

Outside the Stonewall Inn on Monday, gay rights activists will be joined by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents Greenwich Village. There is no bluer Democrat than Nadler – he opposed the war in Iraq and the PATRIOT act – but even some Democrats flee from their most loyal constituency: the gay and lesbian community. Not so for Nadler whose perfect Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard was marred last year because he took a stronger position on transgender rights than the gay rights group sponsoring the legislation.

Has Nadler, a nine-term representative, crossed the line into gay activism? Or, forty years after the Stonewall uprising, is being gay in America simply no longer toxic?

Evidence that supports the latter is piling up quickly. AARP, the nation's largest lobby for seniors, now openly discusses issues affecting gays over 50 – and devoted a section of their website to the Stonewall riots – a majority of Fortune 500 companies voluntarily extend domestic partnership benefits to the spouses of gay men and lesbians, and after an eight year hiatus the president once again declared June LGBT month.

Politicians like Nadler, ardent gay allies, are a recent phenomena. Nadler, however, is not alone.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is unwavering, too. In 2004, Newsom broke California law and began issuing marriage certificates to gay couples in what became known as the “winter of love.” And as opponents targeted him last year in a campaign to re-ban gay marriage, Newsom's rainbow colors did not run.

And something shimmery and gay happened in New England this year when lawmakers in three states boldly voted in favor of granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Their posts are certain to be challenged by social conservatives, but each one of them dug deep inside to chose equality over prejudice.

Are these lawmakers gay activists? They feel like family, they don't take our money and scorn us, they stand up to bigots for us, and celebrate our anniversaries with us. If not gay activists, then what?

The Gay Slant is a feature of On Top Magazine and can be reached at