NY legislation makes local party more festive

Palm Beach Post (FL)
Copyright © 2011 Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc.
KEVIN D. THOMPSON Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


For the past 10 years, Compass, the gay and lesbian community center in Lake Worth, has sponsored The Stonewall Party, a festive gathering commemorating a series of riots in New York in 1969 that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States.

This year, the organization had something else to celebrate, when on Friday New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

As partygoers trickled in through the raindrops and into the Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace Saturday night decked out in stylish black and white outfits, they couldn’t contain their excitement.

”I was freaking out when I heard,” said Kieth Blake, 16, of Greenacres. “I had a party in my room.”

Billy Joe Hancotte, 16, of Palm Beach, was just as giddy.

”Everybody should be allowed to do their own thing,” Hancotte said. “And everybody should get over it.”

Yenc and Reinout Von Tilborg, of Denmark, said they have been married for 13 years and that they were one of the first gay couples to get legally married in Holland.

”America should have done this 100 years ago,” said Yenc Von Tilborg, 45, who lives in Boca Raton with his 52-year-old husband. “What’s wrong with this? Nothing. It’s just two people loving each other.”

Some local gay and lesbian residents said other states may now follow New York’s lead.

”New York is pretty progressive, and this is going to set the tone for these types of discussions around the country,” said Tony Plakas, president and CEO of Compass. “States don’t just fall apart because same-sex couples are married.”

Plakas said the decision in New York generated more interest in The Stonewall Party this year. Compass sold more than 800 pre-sale tickets, up from 300 last year.

”Suddenly the entire world was online buying tickets,” Plakas said. “But we’re a party with a purpose.”

For Joshua Loebel, 15, of Boca Raton, this was his first time at The Stonewall Party. Standing outside the Harriet Himmel a good hour before the party started, Loebel said same-sex marriage should be the norm.

”When they finally do legalize it everywhere, a whole bunch of people will realize that we’re no different than anyone else,” he said.