Monday, October 12, 2009

National LGBT Equality March a Huge Success!


http://socialistworker.org/2009/10/12/we-demand-full-equality

We demand full equality

Eric Ruder reports from Washington on the National Equality March--and the birth of a new civil rights movement for LGBT people in the U.S.
Marching for LGBT rights at the National Equality March (Eric Ruder | SW)YOUNG AND old, gay and straight, people from across the country descended on Washington, D.C., to demand full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on October 11. They came by plane, train, bus and automobile--from Albuquerque, N.M., from Burlington, Vt., from Chicago, from Texas, from Florida, from California and from a thousand points in between.

People started gathering in the morning at McPherson Square, buzzing with nervous anticipation about just how many would mobilize for the first national march for LGBT rights in a decade and a half. By the time the march stepped off at noon, everyone knew that the crowd was large, but it did not become clear just how large until the front of the march headed west and then snaked back past the White House--with tens of thousands still waiting in and around the square to start moving!

In all, some 200,000 people formed a river of humanity that flooded the blocks around the White House and the Capitol, filling the streets with rainbow flags, handmade signs and a festival-like atmosphere. The turnout exceeded even the wildest expectations of march organizers.

"I think that there are generations of younger activists and straight allies who over the last 15 years have been awakening to the need for them to speak out about LGBT equality, and so this march came at the right time," said Urvashi Vaid, an LGBT activist and author.
It tapped into that energy. A lot of people I've met said that this is their first march on Washington, so I think that's important. Marches are about mobilizing the base, and the base of LGBT rights needs to go back around the country and work at the local level. Each time we have had a national march like this, we have had an upsurge in grassroots activism at home.
"I think the turnout reflects a shift of attitude in the community itself," said David McElhatton, a member of the march steering committee from San Francisco. He added:
For a long time, we have relied on massive non-profits and lobbying organizations that are very much out of touch with the needs of this community and who this community is.
We are a vastly diverse group of people, and this was an entirely grassroots effort. It began with a call for anyone in the country to organize to get out here. My organization in San Francisco, One Struggle, One Fight, raised money for HIV-positive activists and transgender activists to get out here. This march was spearheaded by people, not by corporations or overpowering organizations.
No one was shut out of this march. Every possible effort was made to keep this march inclusive and diverse as the community itself to make sure that no one was shut out, to make sure that there was trans inclusion, and trans figures, which was very important to me personally.

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Sherry Wolf speaks at the National Equality March