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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.