Jenny Block has never been to Pride in any city but Dallas. So when the marriage equality ruling coincided with extra frequent flyer miles, she took the plunge and headed for Pride in New York City. Here’s her experience
“I’m going to marry you one day, you know,” my girlfriend Lacey whispered to me one morning just a few weeks ago. “I hope so,” I thought. “But where? Not in Texas,” I mused. “Not any time soon any way.”
And then, last Friday came along. I was snuggled up — away from Lacey — on the oceanliner MS Star Princess as it made its way through the chilly waters to Vancouver, B.C. Writing and taking in the scenery, I opened up Facebook and there it was, the SCOTUS decision. Same-sex marriage is now legal everywhere. Including Texas. It was cause for celebration. If only I was with Lacey.
Then she texted me with a brilliant idea. “I know you’ve been traveling a lot but … want to fly to NYC on Sunday for Pride?” Her best friend Ricky would be there; his fiancé Dennis had flown in all the way from Switzerland for the occasion. How could I say no?
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I typed back, knowing that flying out less than 12 hours after I landed from an 11-day long trip in Alaska was nuts. But somehow not going seemed even crazier.
I’ve been fighting for LGBT rights for more than 25 years. I have marched and written in support of equality. I have protested and donated money. I have cried over homophobic legislation and anti-gay rants. I have mourned the loss of friends to AIDS in the ’80s when no one would fund a cure for a “gay” disease.
And now, suddenly, I could marry the girl of my dreams anywhere I wanted to. So I packed my rainbow tutu and bustier and boarded a plane, equal parts bleary eyed and excited and fell asleep in Lacey’s arms.
Upon landing, we hopped on the train to Manhattan, which was buzzing with people in rainbow gear and T-shirts with pithy sayings. Even in my sleepy state, I began to feel a subtle rush — that “Come together, right now” feeling that I always get at rallies and marches, and sometimes even at concerts.
We stopped at a friend’s place long enough to drop off our stuff and change our clothes before meeting her friends in Greenwich Village. As soon as we stepped off the subway, you could feel it. This was Pride. But this was different. We weren’t just marking our existence this year. We were celebrating our acceptance, our integration, our validation. We are here. We are queer. And we seriously aren’t going to settle for anything less than full equality.
After a few celebratory toasts in a nearby bar, we wound our way to the parade. The usual suspects were all there, from corporate pride groups and LGBTQ and HIV related agencies to DJs and drum lines. The only Pride celebration I had ever attended prior to this one was Dallas’. NYC is massive by comparison. No matter where we walked, we met the parade again and again around every corner for hours on end.
And everyone seemed so damn happy. The parade and the crowd were filled with signs about marriage equality now being a reality. I have to confess, I got teary-eyed in the midst of it all. Just three weeks ago, I was in Moscow, standing in Red Square, in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral, when Lacey kissed me — a romantic gesture in most settings, but an act of political activism in that one.
And now here I was, in the Big Apple, in a rainbow tutu and knee-highs with unicorns pooping rainbows on them celebrating my right not just to choose who I love, but to live as loud and proud as I like, including marrying the girl I love with all of the equal rights and protections that the law provides any married couple. You can say what you will about this country. But I feel like a very lucky lesbian American today.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2015.