Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Movement Must Go On

It’s not every night that you get to see Wonder Woman, a Golden Girl, and Barbarella on the same stage—but then, Monday’s Defying Inequality benefit concert was no ordinary night. Next secured me a pair of press tickets to the event raising money for marriage equality organizations. The star-studded lineup included the radiant Lynda Carter, Rue McClanahan (who spoke of her own right to marry—and remarry!—as she pleased), and Jane Fonda. The latter announced that the creators of Wicked (the event was held at the show’s home, the Gershwin Theater) had jointly contributed an additional $250,000 to the cause. Though the show was overlong and had some slow bits (the men of The Little Mermaid massacring “Part of Your World” was a low point), it offered plenty of great entertainment. A sing-along by cast members from Sesame Street made us all feel like kids again, and we were also treated to memorable performances by Ugly Betty’s adorable Mark Indelicato, comedian Mike Birbiglia, and the dancers from The Color Purple doing an exuberant take on the “Single Ladies” choreography. (Having three sassy male dancers lead that performance underscored the evening’s theme: let us put a ring on it, already!) Cyndi Lauper, alas, did not sing, but the Sicilian spitfire delivered an impassioned if meandering speech. She also got some of the night’s biggest laughs when she referenced Harvey Fierstien’s letter to the President and accidentally said “Harvey Weinstein.” Oops! As the crowd guffawed, Cyndi exclaimed, “That was last night! Damnit!”
But beyond the show’s undeniable entertainment value, it was a powerful reminder that we are in the midst of a true social revolution. After seeing and reading about Harvey Milk and the beginnings of the gay movement, I wished I could have participated in those historic events; but last night it hit me that there is an important battle for equality raging right *now,* and every one of us can participate. Again and again performers last night emphasized that the fight for civil equality is one we can and will win. We need only to keep fighting. I’m reminded of young Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) in the movie Milk: “I don’t do losing.” We should all be so stubborn and tenacious.

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