: views from the Hill

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Gavin's anniversary party yesterday

The guys came up and spent Friday night so we could get an early start Saturday morning. Gavin's anniversary event was scheduled for ten at City Hall. Doors opened at nine. We planned to walk down the Steps at eight and catch the F-line at the Embarcadero and take it over to Van Ness, then walk over to City Hall.

All went without a hitch. We arrived at 8:45 a.m.

The guys kept reminiscing about the rain and the lines last year. This year at quarter to nine, the line didn't quite reach the first corner. Last year when they arrived, the line of same sex couples waiting to get married at City Hall had wrapped around the block to the fourth corner and was almost wrapped back on itself when they arrived.

We stood in line and watched the line grow, wrapping around the corner and disappearing from sight. Petitioners and other sorts handed out papers and chatted up the crowd in line.

Registration went smoothly. Everything was under the older niblet's name because he came first in the alphabet. They had a record that the guys were bringing two guests. We walked into City Hall, passed the security screening and headed toward the rotunda.

I found a place under a lantern where I could stand with the lantern post at my back so I wouldn't get wigged out as the crowd got bigger and people started to crush. If you look at this picture, I planted myself in front of the lantern on the left side of the picture.

We stood around talking and taking pictures of people taking pictures for over an hour as the crowd grew and started to fill the balcony and then the next balcony and then the next and the people on the floor of the rotunda started pushing closer and closer together.

Ten o'clock came and went with no sign of Gavin. The crowd was getting restless. People would start a rhythmic clapping which would then die out.

"Gavin! Gavin! Gavin!" came the shouts.

Still no action, but I didn't mind. People were still arriving. Wouldn't you be pissed if they started without you through no fault of your own but because security was being secure and the line behind security was backing up?

People kept arriving. A lesbian couple stopped and chatted as they pushed by with their twins in a stroller.

The energy in the room was amazing. People shouted at friends on the balcony tier across from them. Someone shouted, "Happy anniversary!" and the room exploded with applause.

Finally, about ten-thirty, Kate Kendell came out and made brief comments and introduced an eight-minute trailer for a film covering the past year and Gavin's Valentine's surprise. The crowd cheered in places. Booed in other places.

Finally, it was time for Gavin.

He gave a rousing speech and had people cheering and shouting. At several points audience fists punched the air. Newsom was stirring, angry, joyful, congratulatory in turn.

Too soon the speechifying was over. Gavin brought Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, the lesbian couple -- together over fifty years -- who were the first same-sex couple to be married at City Hall last year up on the stage and the crowd cheered and shouted, whistled and clapped. He brought up Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno and others supporting the cause and after cheers and whistles and loud applause, the party was over.

Realizing after about fifteen, twenty minutes that there was no way we'd ever get near Gavin and waiting for him to wade through the crowd to get to where we were wasn't going to work either, we headed off to the room next to the Rotunda for cookies. We jumped on the F-line and headed back to Levi's Plaza, and then up the Steps to home.

~~~ Photo set ~~~

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