Around 1990 I attended a Halloween party in Manhattan, in what I considered to be a pretty swanky building, just north of Washington Square Park. Up to this point I had attended parties in dodgier tenement buildings, so this was new. When I walked in with my girlfriend, who knew somebody, who knew somebody, I was struck by the fact that most of the women there were older lesbians. I was a freshly plucked Oklahoma gal, 24 years young, and still wet behind the ears. Almost the moment I walked into the glamorous prewar apartment, a woman wheeled up to me, beaming with delight. A sparkle in her eye, she turned and bellowed across the room, “Hey Edie, will you look at this pretty young thing? They’re still making them!” (Presumably we are churned out in a baby making factory somewhere, or maybe it’s society that’s still cranking out young lesbians? Probably best not to overthink the joke.) I blushed, and Edie scolded her playfully, telling her to leave me alone. And that is how I met Edie and Thea. I don’t remember much else from that night, except that they had a bidet in their bathroom. I had never seen a bidet, and had to ask what it was. Luckily, I did not drink from it. I wouldn’t hear, or think much about these “older lesbians” until years later, through my work with Marriage Equality NY, when I learned that Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer would be among the first LGBTQ+ American couples to travel to Canada to marry, in what was branded as “The Civil Marriage Trail,” by activists Brendan Fay and Jesus Lebron. Another few years passed, Thea also passed, and finally I heard, along with the rest of America, about the momentous case United States vs. Windsor, whereupon Edie would become the conduit for our nation to gain marriage equality. After that, I would see Edie at rallies, parties and marches, but never in an intimate enough setting where I felt comfortable sharing my memory. I think she would have glowed to remember her flirtatious rascal Thea.
By Jan Thompson