“Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia’s got to go!” A small, megaphone-armed crowd chanted over the drivers honking their support at the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Blvd. last Thursday evening to protest the extended hold on gay marriage. Assembled in 48 hours by youth activists Arturo Sernas, Heather Hufstedler and Kathryn Hernandez, the event was scheduled for the first day that gays would have been able to marry if not for the stay. Sernas, prompted by Jane Wishon, a Texas-born mother of three who calls herself a “straight ally” and works as the L.A. chapter leader of Marriage Equality USA, invited everyone he knew via a hastily composed press release (you can tell by the spelling mistakes) and a Facebook page, and voila: a West Hollywood protest with a crowd of 100 at its largest.
“When we heard about Prop 8 being overturned we were really excited,” says Hernandez, whose girlfriend joined her at the rally. “We thought, Okay, maybe we can plan a wedding in the future. It was really discouraging to hear once again it was put on hold. Marriage equality should not be put on hold. Love should not be put on hold. So we’re here just tellin’ the court this is wrong.”
Several Starlight Tour busses cruising the intersection that evening might have thought they were witnessing an event of larger scale; only steps away, policemen, burly bouncers, and photographers circled a raucous crowd. What those tourists were really witnessing was a second, more quintessential L.A. scene: a 21st birthday party for rapper Lil’ Romeo at Millions of Milkshakes nearby. A ROMEO: YOUR MILKSHAKE BRINGS ALL THE GIRLS 2 THE YARD! sign competed with a WE DESERVE THE RIGHT TO MARRY sign and a THOU SHALT STAY THE F%@K OUT OF MY BUSINESS sign. The two groups were separated only by a free HIV-testing truck promising results in 20 minutes. Welcome to Los Angeles, Starlight tourists, where we have food trucks, HIV trucks, and milkshakes named after rappers.