My cab driver from LaGuardia looked worried when I told him the address I was going to in the Village. "Bad" was all I could make out from behind the plexiglass screen.
I didn't realize that it was Parade Day in New York. Parade Day coming on the heels of the historic passage of same-sex marriage legislation in the New York State Senate. Thousands and thousands of people were celebrating in the streets of Greenwich Village.
It finally dawned on me what my cab driver was muttering about up front. He could only get me "close" to my destination.
I got out at the barricade and walked a dozen blocks. There were people everywhere, gay, straight, transgendered, all celebrating a breakthrough that was hard-won and too long in coming: equal rights.
Everyone I passed was joyous. Even the cops were friendly, wishing me a hello as I passed. That seldom happens in Toronto, I thought to myself. I make it a practice to say hello to police officers at home and am usually met with stony silence.
As I walked, I recalled a conversation I had with a participant in one of my workshops in San Framcisco. He was devastated by the repeal of gay marriage in California after San Francisco was overruled in granting marriage rights to same sex couples.
I said at the time that the war was over, depite the disappointing turn of events. The opposition forces were fighting a last gasp campaign for discrimination. They had lost the war even though they had won a battle.
The scene in New York City was vindication. The equal rights battles are not over, but the war has been won in my view.
I also got to thinking about Mayor Rob Ford's decision to go to the cottage rather than attend the Pride Parade in Toronto. It betrays a small-mindedness that most liberals were convinced of during Ford's election campaign. Small mindeness and provincialism.
Every Toronto Mayor with the exception of Art Eggleton in the '80's has attended the Parade. Not Ford. He's going to the cottage. Seems more important than a major celebration of Toronto's diversity.
Why am I suprised?
This guy hasn't exactly demonstrated any sign of growing into a world-class mayor.
Anyway, I am happy for the human rights breakthrough in New York. And I enjoyed wandering through the celebratory streets of Greenwich Village.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.