Editorials and Opinions

Opportunity to take a stand at National Equality March

By Jacob Liverman
Published: October 2009

“Gay, straight, black, white; same struggle, same fight! shouted 200,000 protesters on October 11 while parading down Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Washington D.C.

The protesters were participants of the National Equality March on Washington D.C. They were comprised of students wearing rainbow flags, adults wearing tie-dye, and seniors wearing hotdog hats.

What was important, though, is that people weren’t wearing: wedding rings. The crowd, which stretched for blocks, was fueled by motivation; they knew what they were marching for and were determined for change.

The march, while making a statement for lesbian, gay-bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) rights, focused predominantly on gay marriage rights, as well as abolition of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prohibits any homosexual or bisexual person in the army from divulging his or her orientation.

The event included speeches and performances by stars like Lady Gaga and the cast of Hair, as well as leading activists. Everything was coordinated by Cleve Jones, right-hand man and protégé of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay American politician.

Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank condemned the march, calling it a “waste of time. He added that the way to achieve the march’s goal is not this “outpouring of emotion, but lobbying local representatives and senators. According to Frank, the only thing marchers put pressure on was “the grass.

While Frank is right that real political or legislative action for this cause can’t be accomplished by mass demonstrations, he fails to recognize the momentum that an event like this builds.

For the activists, the march was much more than just an “outpouring of emotion. It represented a battle cry that will resonate outwards from Capitol Hill and ring to all Americans.

I had the honor of participating in this march for LGBTQI civil rights, mostly at the Ellipse, the park just south of the White House fence in front of the Capitol Building. Instead of taking the bus down to D.C. with the group of South students who attended, I took the metro and met up with them. After considerable fighting through the masses, I tracked down the South group.

At first I was very happy to see my friends and fellow students. But then disappointment washed over me, followed by anger, because I saw that the group consisted of only five people. Out of the 50-plus who promised to go, five had actually shown up.

I took a day out of my life to fight for something I believe in, but in all honesty, I know it has little to no effect on me as a straight white male. Nevertheless, because of my desire for equality among all people as well as my belief that everybody should share in the happiness that marriage can bring, I fought for someone else’s rights.

But only five other people did the same. And only two of them were openly LGBTQ or I.

I understand that traveling down to Washington D.C. to a mass demonstration may not be convenient or possible for everyone, but the South community has a history of passion for what they believe in’€as evidenced by the 50 people who promised they would attend.

So I was disappointed to see that only five South students were motivated enough to make an appearance and stand up for human rights.

Any kind of revolution requires the strength of an entire population. Without that strength, we can’t live in the progressive society that we all enjoy.

I ask you, the South community, LGBTQI and straight, is equality something you want? And if it is, should you not fight for it? No change has ever come from sleeping in at home. As the saying goes, revolution is not a dinner party. We need to fight for change.

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