Last night, I was relaxing in my apartment in lovely Cambridge, Massacusetts, when I happened to notice that my entire street was lined with satellite trucks, logos of various news organizations proudly emblazoned on their sides. More to my interest, I heard the roar of a loud and boisterous crowd outside. I wondered briefly what in the world was going on. Then I remembered: the first gay marriage applications were being filed.
Across the street lies the Episcopalianesque stone of Cambridge City Hall, a towering building surrounded by a nice, grassy expanse of lawn frequented by people escaping the bustling urbanity of Central Square. After convincing my girlfriend to head outside and check out the goings-on, it was something to see that wide verdant knoll covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of gay marriage supporters. It was a sight to see: kids running around with little glow-sticks around their necks, people holding signs that said "Mozel Tov" or "See, Chicken Little-the sky is not falling", and the like. Irish dancers. Belly dancers. Students by the bucketload. Media everywhere, from national networks down to the indie hustlers of community television. Everyone chanting, clapping, singing "God Bless America". It was amazing, and spirit-uplifting.
There was a long arcade barricaded off from the crowd, stretching from the corner of Inman St. and Mass. Ave., continuing down the middle of the sidewalk by the bus stand, bisecting the green, and ending at the footstops of City Hall. And the line: what a line, filled with couples happily in love and about to consumate their lifetime dreams at last. It was a wonderful thing to see, and the crowds wished them the best, with the line frontage aswarm with well-wishers and people cheering. The air was tingling with anticipation, as if there was a palpable sense of history in the making.
It drizzled a little, then it died down.
On the SW side of Mass. Ave. was a small knot of people brandishing "God Hates Fags!" and the absolute worst "Thank God for 9-11". The individual holding this sign, I later saw on the news, was making it a point to step on the American flag. There were only five or six such people, while the overwhelming majority of the crowd was full of support and hope. It was really quite something to see. Amazing that there were so many open-minded people in one spot. Horns honked from supporting cars. (Honking happened seven times a minute, instead of the usual three, is how I know).
I looked down at my girlfriend, who was laughing and cheering and filming it with her latest video camera, and I wondered what it would be like to not be able to marry her, something that is considered totally "natural" and "sanctioned" by God. It would kill me, literally kill me. It feels so right to want to be with somebody, regardless of what gender they are or what they look like. That was why I was down there. I may be the typical white, straight, Christian male beneficiary of conservative society, but screw it. I spurn it. I just want my fair share, and I want everyone else to have the same share I have. That's democracy.
Looking at the crowd, the sea of well-meaning faces, it hit me how proud I am to live in Massachusetts. What a wonderful, exciting, progressive, dynamic state. Sure we have our ups and downs, but we were first to do this in the country, joining a long list of firsts that truly makes us one of the best places to live. People complain, call us "Taxachusetts", "bleeding heart liberals", "fag enablers" (to quote one sign), but everyone down there was well-educated, well-spoken, and in the light of the vitriolic signage across the street, calm and well-adjusted. These are the kind of people that make America great, that give a glimmer of hope to the four grim years of George W. Bush, enforced morality, and theocracy.
It was a beautiful night, a wonderful thing to see: the closest I will ever come to watching history unfold before my very eyes. It wasn't as dramatic as the Berlin Wall coming down, but it will be worth telling the grandkids about.
God bless America.