New York City
I was volunteering at Affirmations, metro-Detroit’s LGBT Community Center. A number of people from the Center were going to NYC for the “Stonewall 25” Parade which had been organized to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Watching my pennies, I had not planned on going but, at the last minute, my, then, partner and I decided; ‘oh, what the heck’! Twelve hours later we were in Manhattan looking for a place to park.
It was not the first time I had been to that kind of event. I went to LGBT March on Washington the previous year. Aside from seeing friends and the generally celebratory nature of the day, my most vivid memories are of the New York Police Department. There was a massive police presence as the parade passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal O’Connor had been a vocal critic of the LGBT community and the archdiocese was worried about the potential for disturbance. There was none.
I also recall the NYPD doing a terrific job controlling a group of protestors on a street corner. Witnessing their faith by waving their ‘God Hates Fags’ signs and screaming some vile comments at the parade participants, the protestors hoped to provoke a response to get their sound bite on the 6:00 o’clock news.
The NYPD did a great job that day. I don’t know how they felt about being there. Most were probably just happy for the over-time. But 25 years earlier, in the same place but a much different time, the police had been our enemies. Two decades later they may not have been our friends but they treated us like citizens, upheld the law, and kept the peace. Progress!
As a society….
“We ain’t what we should be…
And we ain’t what we’re gonna be….
But, at least, we ain’t what we was”