Pride pealed far and wide at Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade in the wake of landmark legislation making New York the sixth state to legalize marriage between same sex couples.
“Last year, we were making a statement to get our rights. This year it’s a rejoicing and a celebration – a party!” said Emily Sawers, 18, a student from Westfield, N.J. “I feel like a winner!”
Couples can begin applying for marriage licenses on July 5th and receive licenses as early as July 25.
The right to marry one’s beloved had long been seen as inconceivable by many older celebrants who found the parade especially poignant in the light of previous, painful struggles.
Harry Brownlee, 76, a retired doctor, never thought he would be standing on Fifth Ave. celebrating his right to marry. When he came to New York decades ago to train as a psychiatrist, men diagnosed as homosexual were subjected to “aversion therapy” in the form of shock treatments to try to alter their orientations.
Worried about how others might perceive him, Brownlee lived a guilty, closeted life, censoring every disclosure. Not until he sold his consulting company in the 1980s did he feel it was safe to come out.
“All my life, I lived a divided life,” said the Upper West Sider. Legalizing marriage, said Browlee, who wedded his long-time partner two years ago in Connecticut, helps “to make you feel whole.”
Allowing gay people to form the same family attachments as heterosexuals will result in fewer suicides and less depression for young gay people, predicted Brownlee, who wore a rainbow scarf tied in the brim of his jaunty white hat.
It is indeed helpful to have society validate one’s relationships, affirmed Irwin Suba, 24, of Bergen Beach. A production assistant, Suba came out to his friends four years ago, but has yet to muster the courage to tell his family he’s gay. “They’re typical Filipinos – really Catholic, very traditional and conservative,” sighed Suba. “I hope this will help them open their minds a bit and open up discussion.”
Kim Green, a housing counselor from Houston, Tx., cheered on Gov. Andrew Cuomo waving five rainbow flags in a crowd where blue and white signs reading “Thank You Gov. Cuomo” and “Promise Kept.”
“New York has sent a message to the nation. It is time for marriage equality,” Cuomo said before marching in the parade with his girlfriend Food Network star Sandra Lee.
State Sen. Tom Duane, (D-Manhattan Democrat) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
who are gay and have said they plan to marry their partners, reveled in the celebration. “People were crying, jumping up and down and screaming. Everyone was smiling. It was unbelievable,” Quinn said.
Green is straight, but came to the parade on behalf of her gay 20-year-old son, Christopher, an FIT student and retail sales person who had to work yesterday.
She was thrilled and moved by the contagious joy of the crowd. “It’s so important that my son can marry anyone he wants, if he chooses to marry,” said Green, who hopes her own state will follow New York’s example. “The rest of the world watches New York and the rest of the world follows New York.”