Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco, California. As I was flying out there last Friday on Virgin America, the little TV on the seat back in front of me had a breaking news event – the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. I plugged in my headphones and listened to the news, tears steaming down my face.
I was so overcome with emotion because that decision meant that my daughter could marry whomever she loves, and that she would be accorded protection of marital rights under the law. As would my gay friends, and it just so happened that I was meeting a great friend at the conference, who happens to be gay. I knew the news would be especially meaningful to him and I was so happy that I would get to celebrate with him.
Saturday morning was another emotional morning for me. I got up at the crack of dawn and headed out to the convention center. I arrived at 7:15, more than an hour early for the keynote speaker – Gloria Steinem. A dear friend of the family, Arthur Tarlow, was the only man that worked at Ms. Magazine. I was 13 years old when that first issue came out, and I became a huge fan of the magazine, and Ms. Steinem. I wasn’t old enough to vote for it, but I was old enough to march for the Equal Rights Amendment, despite my parents’ objections. It didn’t pass, but my faith in feminism never wavered. Several years ago, Arthur got me a signed book from Ms. Steinem. I have a lot of signed books, but that is one of my most prized possessions.
I got a seat front row, center for Ms. Steinem. She walked out on that stage an hour later and I teared up again. Afterwards, I approached her before her publicist could whisk her away and told her about our mutual friend, who had passed away a few years earlier. She stopped to chat and Erica, her publicist, was kind enough to take a picture for me. She has a new book coming out in October, a memoir about her life on the road.
Sunday was the Pride Parade down Market Street, a couple of blocks from the convention center. I watched for a while, crying yet again. The parade was supposed to be over by 3:00 but due to the size of the contingents marching, it was still going strong at 5:00 PM.
It was a very emotional weekend for me, and one I will never forget. It seemed fitting to share my memories this 4th of July, as LGBTQ Americans are one step closer to independence.