The Women’s March on Washington brought millions of women, men, and children out into the streets to demonstrate for progressive ideals.
Included in those stated unity principals is the fight for LGBTQIA rights:
We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.
The huge turnout and success of the March on Washington, and the sister rallies around the globe, has inspired a National Pride March, a “mass” LGBTQ protest at the nation’s capital on June 11, as it coincides with Capital Pride’s June 8-11 weekend of events.
David Bruinooge, 42, lives in New York, and has friends in D.C. He was moved to start a Facebook event page announcing the event while watching the Women’s March on Washington.
“I was watching the events unfold on TV and I was very proud and inspired by all the women, the strong women in our country who were kind of taking this to the street and getting their voices heard,” he told the Washington Blade. “And in the back of my mind as an openly gay man I thought the gay community should be doing something like this to follow up on the momentum.”
This would mark the first large-scale LGBTQ march on Washington since the National Equality March in 2009. Still the largest march occurred in 1993, called the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation. Estimates of the crowd size vary, with organizers estimating a million in attendance, with the D.C. Police Department coming up with a similar count of 800,000 to over one million.
The first such demonstration, the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, took place in 1979, which drew around 125,000.
Organizers are encouraging those living in cities with pride events that coincide to consider staying put and attending those local offerings while marching in solidarity with those in D.C.
“Or even it doesn’t fall on the same weekend. We can all march in solidarity across the country,” the Facebook post continues. “Our community is large enough to fill all the Pride Events scheduled that weekend. And we will make this truly a ‘National Pride March’ together.”
This is a wise move, because it not only manages to avoid the issue of undermining the work local groups have done, but also helps set up a sister rally approach, which was successful for the Women’s March. It means that not only will media outlets report on the big event in Washington, they will be able to cover related demonstrations taking place in their own backyards, increasing total coverage.
There has been a growing sense, especially among the older generation, that a sense of complacency had set in among the LGBTQ community and our allies. After all, there have been so many advances in the fight for rights since the days of the Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall riots.
A whole generation of LGBTQ youth have no idea what it must have been like during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, having seen your loved ones dying around you while your government appears to be sitting idly by, doing nothing. Many are still unfamiliar with the heroic efforts of ACT UP, who put their bodies on the line to raise awareness and force the government to take action in the fight against the illness.
Those who still need a lesson in that bit of history should check out the excellent documentary, “How to Survive a Plague,” based on a book of the same name, which is currently available to stream on Netflix.
The fight for same-sex marriage was waged and won, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repealed, and hate crime legislation was signed into law by President Obama, leading many to believe we had reached equality, even in spite of a lack of LGBTQ protections on the federal level, with The Equality Act continuing to languish in Congress.
Gay bars and clubs have even started vanishing, in part because people seemed to believe there was no longer a need for dedicated spaces for us and our allies.
The argument that there is more or less nothing to fight for, while always erroneous, is more obviously flawed now than ever.
President Donald Trump has filled his administration with individuals with a history of anti-LGBTQ views and voting records, and his Supreme Court nomination list is equally disconcerting.
The new WhiteHouse.gov has no reference of LGBTQ rights, unlike its predecessor which is now housed at ObamaWhiteHouse.gov.
The Centers for Disease Control reportedly shelved plans for an LGBTQ youth summit over concerns with how Trump would view the event.
Further, Trump has also said he would sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law, which would allow for religious based discrimination in such areas as healthcare, businesses, employment, and housing. His pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, also recently defended the bill.
President Trump also has an admiration for the so-called leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who signed a “gay propaganda” law in 2013, making demonstrations like the LGBT March on Washington illegal in his country.
Adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump and Putin will speak on Jan. 28 to discuss areas where they might have “common ground.”
If there were ever a time to wake up, stand up, and fight back together, now is that time. Before it is too late.
See you all in D.C.