In 1998 my friends and I took to the West Village of Manhattan at the intersection of Christopher Street and Gay Street to document the festivities at the Pride parade. We set up just a stone's throw from the former Stonewall Inn, where a police riot in 1969 thrust the LGBT movement out of the shadows and into the American conscience. It may seem like a slow progress of acceptance, but sometimes the turning points in history seem so recent.
When we started asking people if they wanted to get married, several couples were surprisingly quick to agree. Even though the ceremony would be cut-rate, because this was for a public-access TV show, our haphazard huppah seemed festive enough, and we even had a real reverend on hand -- our own Reverend Jen, a Lower East Side art star/writer/performer who had done some paperwork at some point to earn her title. Her diminutive, elven appearance made her all the less threatening, which was good, because some of these wedding vows were going to be a little racy and specific to the couples who had just agreed to wed, and we hoped they would take it the right way. At least we were giving them collectible pipe-cleaner wedding rings we made ourselves, as well as homemade wedding certificates.
Not only did the couples laugh knowingly, but we were blown away by the emotional outpouring by the time we finished our short ceremony. Even in a hasty bit shot on a street corner, their love was real, and before a crowd they got to announce it in front of everyone and to each other. This was such an important human right to be able to recognize.
And 15 years later, much has progressed, but much more progress is yet to be made. While the issue is current and these reactions still funny, we are at another turning point in history. While we have the first president to acknowledge this right, we have a ways to go for marriage equality to be fully recognized under the law.
Here is the complete Pride episode of Toolz of the New School, which also includes "The Magic Closet" that turns people gay, a "Brief History of the Stonewall Riot," the North American Man Bird Love Association," and "Libby the Lesbian Leprechaun."
Toolz of the New School was a cult comedy show on New York public access last century. More of the stunts and story of Toolz will appear in the forthcoming film PAY 2 PLAY.