Five weeks and two days ago, my good friends Bex, Josh, Lindsay, and Jen came to my apartment for a party the night following the historic vote that allowed all New Yorkers the right to marry. “We have this great idea!” they all said, “We want you to be a part of it!” The idea was to marry a bunch of couples - gay, lesbian, and / or straight - in a big event in Central Park on the first Saturday after the law was passed. We set a date and drank a bunch of wine and sat on my roof and talked about how exciting it would be to make this amazing event, which was still just an amazing idea, actually take place.
The following Monday we had a website and two pieces publicizing the Pop Up Chapel despite not having an actual space in Central Park as we had promised. Some people criticized the idea as ridiculous and silly, suggesting that there would be no way that we could pull it off. Even I was worried that they were right. I think we all underestimated what a group of friends can manage to accomplish!
In five weeks, after several meetings in apartments and in parks over more bottles of wine, several pizzas, a lot of stressful cigarette breaks, and even a few margaritas, we all showed up on Saturday morning in Merchants’ Square in Central Park. So did a lot of press, a ton of volunteers, some folks from corporate sponsors (who, shockingly, came to us rather than the other way around), and forty-eight people who wanted to share with us and a small crowd of their families and friends their love and commitment to each other.
I am still quite stunned that we made this happen! I feel like I put such little effort compared to some of the other people on this team, particularly Bex Schwartz and Josh French, who will forever be two of the most fantastic and impressive people I know (and who, I swear, are my personal heroes). I also got the chance to meet some amazing new people whom I consider to be great new friends: Toledo Kelly! New York Kelly! Kerry! Jess! Photo Dave! And not to mention the folks that I already knew who really stepped up and helped out with this great cause: Lindsay, Jen, Jolie, Dorothy Mantooth (!!!), Tara, Bobby!
And, seriously: DAVE HOLMES. After “knowing” Dave through the Internet for years, I finally got the chance to spend a whole day with him. Dave flew himself out to New York to participate in this event for free, and not only did he buy me a beer half-way through the day, he was also as friendly and warm as he is on the Internet. This man is a saint!
I think the most powerful moments of the day happened when I was standing by the barricades and strangers, many of whom wandered up to the event while strolling into Central Park, asked me to explain what was going on. “We are marrying twenty-four same-sex couples today!” I said. Not one person even flinched before they replied with the same response: “This is wonderful!” It was so amazing to hear those kinds of emphatic responses of support from strangers! As one of the two gays on the original staff, I am so grateful for the support for this cause from a TON of people who realize that, no matter who you are and who you love, everyone is equal and deserving of the same treatment and rights. I think it is so easy to take for granted, especially in a city like New York, the tolerance of ones peers. But to see so many couples who have been together for so many years finally have the chance to be recognized under the law as any other person was so extremely powerful.
So many people worked very hard to get this event together, but I feel like no one deserves as much credit as Bex and Josh. I want to keep saying this, writing it, publicizing it - these two have done so much work in the last month and have been so incredibly inspiring! I could list a ton of synonyms here to describe them, but none would be able to express how impressed I am with them and what they have accomplished.
We all had an email thread going yesterday before a few of us met for glasses of wine in Bed Stuy (at the same bar where Bex, Josh, and Jen came up with the idea the night of the vote). We kept joking, “So, uh, what do we do now?” As insane and exhausting as the last five weeks have been (and more so for others than for me, because I really feel like I barely contributed as much as I stood in awe of how fantastic the rest of my friends were at putting all of this together), I hope we can come up with another project that can make as many people happy as this one did. After watching these amazing, hard-working people for the last few weeks, I’m confident that we can do anything.