As soon as gay marriage officially passed in the New York State Senate we headed to the West Village. What we found there was not the frustrating body-to-body gridlock that impromptu city celebrations sometimes tend to yield, but instead open, elated festivities. “It’s like New Year’s Eve,” we heard a man say into his phone approaching Christopher Street.
People clamored, cameras out, to take pictures of each other in front of the Stonewall Inn, the historic site of the 1969 riots that launched the gay rights movement.
David Carter, the author of Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution approached us to explain the “beautiful connection” between this celebration and the riots: they were both spontaneous occurrences, he said.
“Can you imagine being in Stonewall already when this happened?” a man near the institution wondered aloud.
When we wondered how difficult it would be to get inside the bar, another man turned to us and told us to push: “How do you think we got here today? We pushed!”
Music, everything from “Empire State of Mind” to “Y.M.C.A.,” played, seeming to come from nowhere in particular. A couple of drops of rain fell. Someone yelled: “It’s raining men.” The crowd chanted “U.S. Gay! U.S. Gay!” People periodically burst out into cheers and took sips from their not-so-concealed bottles of champagne.
Domenic Ariaudo held a bunch of white flowers, which he explained were originally intended to be thrown into the crowd in the traditional wedding bouquet fashion. Since their stems were too long, they were appropriated for a different purpose.
“We are going to give these out to couples,” he said.
Couples were not difficult to locate. Trace Wax and Robert Fodor posed for photos with their wedding bands. The pair had been married in October 2008 in California, just before Proposition 8 passed.
“Tonight was a real emotional rush,” Wax said.