Hi Everyone! Melani, here!
After about 10 hours of traveling, we arrived home last night. It was such a fun trip, and an amazing experience, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we were happy to sleep in our own beds last night! I was planning on blogging last night once I was home, but I was out like a light!
Friday we had our last day at GMHC. We watched a powerful documentary called “How to Survive a Plague”. If you can get your hands on it, I highly suggest you watch it! It focuses on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how back then, the government was reluctant to spend a lot of money to try to find a cure, or even medication to help slow the progression of the disease. The documentary follows Act Up, a civil rights group through their journey to get medication that is safe and effective. It was an extremely emotional journey. There’s this one scene where they go to Washington DC, and start dumping the ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn to get people to listen. It was a powerful statement, and it breaks my heart to know that people had to go that far!
We were all a little sad to leave GMHC. It was such an incredible opportunity, and we all learned so much! Its hard to put into words how valuable this time was for me. One thing someone said to us really stuck out to me. Someone said, “It might seem like you’re not doing much. But even if you’re just stuffing envelopes, it’s important. One of those envelopes you’re stuffing might raise thousands of dollars to help people.”
After leaving GMHC for the last time, we went to the historical Stone Wall Inn. For those of you who don’t know, the Stone Wall Inn is a historically famous gay bar. This is where many people say the gay rights movement began. Back in the 1970’s, it was illegal to sell a drink to anyone who was gay, so they opened bars specifically for people who identified that way. It was also a law, that you had to wear three items of clothing from your gender. A lot of these people dressed how they wanted, and often these bars were subject to police raids, even though they didn’t do anything wrong. On one of these raids at the Stonewall Inn, people fought back, and riots ensued. This started the gay rights movement.
It was amazing to get to go inside this bar. It still operates as a gay bar, and it’s decorated with newspaper articles from that time period. We went to look around, and by chance, the one guy sitting in the bar happened to be at the riots that night so long ago! It was amazing to hear the story from someone who was actually there. We were incredibly lucky!
After Stonewall, we had a little down time to get ready for Broadway! We went to see Kinky Boots, and it was a great performance. The premise is a man takes over his father’s failing shoe business after he passes away. In order to save the company he starts making a new product, shoes for drag queens. It’s a hilarious show!
Saturday morning, we had a few hours to explore and have breakfast one last time. (I am going to miss crepes SO much!) and then we flew to Chicago and met up with the New Orleans group and drove back to Oshkosh. It was a long trip, but so worth it!