Monday, October 5, 2009

Why we're marching


October 11 will be a day to march--in Washington, D.C., and cities around the country to demand full LGBT equality, and nothing less. asked some of the people building this demonstration--both veterans of the movement and those new to activism--to give us their reasons for marching on October 11.

Here we post two of these statements. Visit to read them all.

Protesting Proposition 8 in San FranciscoAiyi'nah Ford
D.C. Host Committee for the National Equality March, and host of Listen Up Live | Washington, D.C.

When I'm asked why I intend to participate in the National Equality March, it is actually a rhetorical question of sorts. By this, I mean, people already ASSume that they know the answer they will get from "The Tastee Diner Girl."

It's quite interesting, as they all ask me with the same satirical seriousness of a TMZ reporter--inquirers silently awaiting the arrival of my proverbial soapbox and some great speech full of SAT-esque words that no one can pronounce (let alone understand). They look for the classic Al Sharpton vibrato, mixed with Jesse Jackson alliterations. So when I open my mouth and answer, I have come to expect a certain awkward pause.

Yes, I made international headlines when my companion and I orchestrated a protest against the Tastee Diner of Silver Spring, Maryland. This protest was in response to being asked to leave for a modest embrace at two in the morning. Quite specifically, for being asked to take our affection outside, as "this [the Tastee Diner] is a family establishment and people are trying to eat."

Never mind that the heterosexual couple who was right next to us was doing a lot more than embracing. Or the fact that this "family restaurant" serves wine and beer, as I don't recall that option at IHOP or Denny's. But the reality is, I could care less about that restaurant or people's interpretation of some grainy black-and-white surveillance footage.

The reality is this isn't about me! This is in memory of the countless individuals who have died on the journey to equality. People like Matthew Shepard, beaten and left to die for being homosexual, or Tyli'a Mack, who was stabbed and killed in broad daylight because she was a transgender woman.

This is in memory of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black child, whose dead body was found floating in the Mississippi River, murdered for supposedly whistling at a white woman, and for Sean Bell, who was shot dead by New York police who were later acquitted.

Furthermore, I march as tangible evidence of the audacity of hope that our president speaks of. The hope that my family will understand that I am the same child that they raised, with the same morals and values, and that my sexuality doesn't compromise that. Hope that our community can attend church and feel comfortable in observing their chosen religion. Hope that children of LGBTQ couples are not chastised because of their parent's love. The hope that our fellow citizens realize the injustices we face daily because we are same-gender loving individuals. Hope that some child who is uncomfortable with their sexuality can see that the insecurities of others are not a reflection of who they are, but of who their persecutors are not.

I have chosen to march for these reasons, and I invite you to join me. Not in an effort to condone homosexuality, but as a statement that we are all human, and we are all equal. We march with one demand...RESPECT OUR HUMANITY...GIVE US EQUALITY!

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Dove-Paige Anthony
Join the Impact Chicago | Chicago

First and foremost, it should be stated that I am a trans activist. As a member of the transgender community, I know entirely too well what it is to be discriminated against. It isn't always easy to define, but when it happens, you know it by how it feels.

In most states in this country, I can be fired for who and what I am, and have absolutely no legal recourse--the same goes for housing. So it's safe to say that the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is near and dear to my heart. I have been working toward helping get it passed, and educating people about what ENDA is and why we need it, for the better part of the past three years.

Oftentimes, it is the transgender part of the LGBT community that is financially the worst off. This is because trans people can be--and more often than not, are--fired for who and what they are legally, but if they're lucky enough to keep their jobs, they are routinely passed over for raises or promotions.

In particular, it is trans women who are passed over and discriminated against in this way, primarily because, like it or not, we live in a phallocentric society--the penis equals power, and trans women have rejected that position of power to be at one with themselves. For many people, at a subconscious level, this is downright treason, and so they feel justified in taking it upon themselves to be the punisher.

Coming out as trans, your employability plummets. Unemployment rates in America are at an all-time high, and that gives people one more reason to get rid of the trans person who works for them.

Unemployment leads to no insurance, and hormone treatments are expensive. For most trans people, hormones are the one thing that makes life make sense--take them away, and the world comes crashing down around you.

I used to go to an online support group for trans people, and there was a young trans girl there who, when she came out as trans, faced rejection from her family and friends. Her family completely disowned her and kicked her out, and she ended up in a little kitchenette apartment with a bedroom and a bathroom--it was all she could afford. She was continually harassed at work, and if she complained, she was told it was her own fault.

These are the kinds of things she would talk to me about. Then she just stopped showing up online. After several weeks, we discovered that she had gotten fired from her job for too much complaining about people harassing her for the "unnatural" way she "chose" to dress and live. Without insurance, she couldn't afford the cost of hormones, and life quickly spiraled out of control.

We learned that in a final act of desperation, one night, she hung herself in her closet. They successfully forced her to go back into the closet...permanently.

This is a perfect example of why we need ENDA. ENDA will not solve everything, but it's a perfect place to start. The Western world needs to be reeducated concerning gender and orientation.

I know all too well that every time I set foot outside my apartment, I take my life into my own hands. I know firsthand that there are people out there who are more than willing to murder me for my gender variance--I have been attacked on a number of occasions, and at least one time, I am pretty certain that murder was the intention.

It was this attack that caused me to get involved in activism, because bottom line is that none of this will change unless the public perception of LGBT people changes, and the only way to change the public perception of us is to change it! It will not change on its own. We have to be visible, but also vocal and eloquent in what we say. We have to express our humanity--this is the path to change. On 10/11/09, we march!

What you can do

The National Equality March will begin at noon on October 11 and end on the West lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. The march will be followed by a rally that rally will start at approximately at 2 p.m. For a full schedule of the National Equality March weekend events, including several workshops sponsored by national LGBT organizations, visit the National Equality March Website.

Students who will be marching on October 11 are invited to join the march's student contingent, which will be gathering at the Ellipse beginning at 11 a.m, and then march as a block to join the National Equality March at noon. Students coming from campuses around the country are encouraged to march together with banners and placards representing their schools. For more information and further details about the student contingent, call Keeanga Taylor at 773-616-0230 or e-mail