As in "us" but also "the U.S.", see what I did there?
By Alisha Giampola (Actor)
It has been called the civil rights movement of my generation, but here in NYC, where it takes a whole lot more than being attracted to people of the same gender to make your lifestyle 'alternative', it's so easy to forget all about the fact that homophobia even still exists.
This is both wonderful and sobering. This years' annual NYC Pride March came on the heels of a historic Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA. It was ruled unconstitutional to ban gay marriage on the federal level (civil marriages only of course; religious institutions will still naturally have the freedom to marry or not marry whoever they please. Somehow I feel like this point needs to be continually emphasized, as so many do not seem to understand that gay marriage affects them- well- not at all. If you would like to see if gay marriage does indeed affect you, I found this helpful guide entertaining.)
The excitement here in the city and within my circle of friends upon the overturning of DOMA was heartwarming to say the least. We have friends getting married later this year and knowing that their marriage will be a truly legal, recognized marriage makes me so happy for them. Couples who were constantly concerned over one partner's ability to stay in the country will find that they now have a weight lifted off their shoulders.
For many of my age group (say...35 and under), the idea that interracial marriage once sparked a Supreme Court case as controversial as gay marriage (actually, much much more so: at the time of Loving vs. Virginia, 73% of Americans opposed interracial marriage. Today, about 53% of Americans support gay marriage) is surprising to say the least. I'm not remotely suggesting that racism is a thing of the past, but few would take a second glance at an interracial couple today. Although many are apparently not ok with them endorsing Cheerios?
So many of the arguments against same-sex marriage have hinged on arguments that the definition of marriage has to do with the process of biological procreation, an argument that seems irrelevant in a day and age when infertile couples, couples with no intent to procreate, and couples that are long past the age to feasibly procreate are married legally every day. Not to mention that there are so, so many children in need of adoption by loving families. The overturning of DOMA signifies our country as a whole recognizing that our constitution was designed to be a part of the evolution that naturally occurs within society and government; not something that must be entirely scrapped in order to move forward, but also not something that holds communities back in a time where voting is not the right of all citizens, or slavery is legal. Along these lines, this editorial was one of the most intelligent arugments for upholding tradition while recognizing change that I have read in a long time- and it is written by a minister from Kansas no less!
So we've obviously come a very long way (and yet still have far to go) when it comes to striving towards equality in this country. Greg put this dichotomy so well this past week, as he pointed out the juxtaposition of the two Supreme Court decisions that were ruled on back to back.
Sunday, however, was a day only to celebrate. I was happy to be spending the afternoon with our dear friends (and possible winners for Cutest Couple at Pride 2013?) Hallie and Bobbi, who were visiting NYC for the weekend. We went to the parade together and had a gay old time. And I definitely mean that in both senses of the word. I leave you with some pictures I snapped of the parade....
Attending Pride this year made me realize that it's hard for me to look back and remember a time when I didn't have gay people in my life (being involved in theatre for 15+ years will do that to you). But I know there are so many people in this country who still live in enough homogeneity to find the experience of encountering people who are different to be threatening. And there are still so many places in our world in which homosexuality is criminalized. And then there are people right here in NYC who return Oscar Wilde books after they find out that he was gay (which actually is more a comment on the state of people's literacy and not on diversity).
Parades are not normally my thing. I don't particularly love a marching band (76 Trombones remains my most dreaded musical theatre song to this day). But I do like what parades and marches signify. They are symbols of people choosing to walk together in the same direction, sometimes even against opposition; and ultimately that is what our country has always been about.
Happy 4th of July!
ALISHA GIAMPOLA is an NYC based actor/teacher/writer who usually tries to avoid talking politics or religion, but like so many of us, often fails.
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