What Role Did New York Nightlife Play in Same Sex Marriage?

By Gamal Hennessy

I’m not trying to belittle the political choice that the Obama administration made this week. The act of supporting same sex marriage, like getting the marriage equality law passed in New York last year, took an enormous amount of effort and education over the past four decades from thousands of different people. There have been struggles and setbacks within families, among friends, in businesses, courtrooms, schools, churches, legislatures and in the media over this issue. There have also been internal struggles within many people who had a stake in this process to give up, keep fighting or just try to ignore it and hope it would go away. For everyone who is waiting to have the same rights as everyone else, this is a small but significant step.

But just because it is pivotal doesn’t mean that nightlife didn’t play a role in the process. Nightlife was where the LGBT community went to connect with each other and be accepted for who they were. It was in nightlife where people rose up to defend themselves from abuse during the Stonewall Riots. It was in nightlife where people began to organize and share the information that built up their community. It was in nightlife where many of them found their identity, their hustles and the people that they would eventually fall in love with. And it was in nightlife where many of them celebrated the victory of the marriage equality act last year. It will probably be where they celebrate Obama’s announcement tonight.

Saying marriage equality came about because of nightlife might be going too far. But nightlife is a part of that story, so it is a part of our collective story as a society. Who knows where we would be without it.

Have fun.