When I first moved to New York City, I was an editorial assistant to the EIC at a downtown newspaper. It was a shitty job and I hated going to work every single day. One rainy morning, in the fall, as I walked past City Hall I was stopped by a protest that was going on near the Municipal Building. Hundreds of people were lined up, peacefully, outside in the pouring rain. It looked like they were waiting in a queue for a giveaway, or something.
It turned out it was an Empire State Pride Agenda event. After Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, began giving out marriage licenses, New York groups decided to try the same thing in our liberal city. So hundreds of couples who wanted to be legally recognized showed up.
They stood there, sometimes two by two, sometimes with children in tow, patiently, even as they got soaking wet. They waited for hours for marriage licenses they knew weren’t coming. Some of the couples had clearly been together for years, others were young and wanted to start families.
I was late to work that day because I ended up standing in the rain with them, watching.
This weekend, the city will receive thousands of visitors to celebrate Gay Pride. From cocktail parties, to parades, to pier dances, Pride is interpreted in a lot of different ways.
But when I think about it, I keep remembering that day, when I had just started becoming a New Yorker: couples in line, standing out in public, holding hands with a person they love enough to wait for hours in the pouring rain for a marriage license they will never receive. That’s what gay pride means to me.