Last weekend, thousands of LGBTQ people and their straight allies marched in Washington, D.C. Or was it hundreds of thousands? I can’t find a reliable estimate, but I can tell you that at the following rally the National Mall was PACKED from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. Our journey was long, our socio-political fuses short, but our spirits untouchably high. Lore and I thought we had made a long trip, but there were people from as far as the great state of Alaska. We made a friend from Montana. A group from Chicago got a special mention at the rally because their all-night bus broke down on the way. They were with us in spirit, and we were thinking about them. About everyone out there. As a British speaker at the rally said, “I am here because today my sexuality trumps my nationality.”
Despite Representative Barney Frank’s dismissal of the march as pointless and insignificant, what I saw and felt was nothing short of life-changing. I had never been to a pride parade. I had never waved a flag and held up a sign declaring with every step that YES, in no uncertain terms, I am a LESBIAN and I LOVE IT and I AM EQUAL. It was beautiful. We were beautiful. (It’s true — Lady Gaga told us so!) These people around me know, I thought. They understand. I will remember them the next time I’m hesitatant about speaking up.
Perhaps Congressman Frank should have thought about the new generation of activists waiting to be inspired, about those in the queer community who need all the support and encouragement they can get. Perhaps he needs to be reminded of the importance of community, especially for minorities, and even more so for a minority as misunderstood, widespread, and disconnected as ours. Perhaps he’s forgotten that DOMA, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Proposition 8 are still in effect with no federal action against them in sight. He may be willing to wait another eight years for his rights, but I’m not.
Speaking of people who need reminding, I — like many — was not that impressed with the President’s speech at Saturday’s Human Rights Campaign dinner. Only days after calling his Nobel Peace Prize a “call to action,” Obama followed months of unfulfilled promises with this letdown. It managed to be funny, and sometimes sympathetic, yet lacked anything approaching motivation. No apology, no plans, no deadlines, just smiles and sweet words. It was almost like being handed an IOU from Boss Tweed. I know the President and Congress have a lot to do. I know I know it’s only been a few months. But how long am I supposed to wait? When did we decide that civil rights were less important than economics? How good is better health care if my partner can’t use it, or a parent can’t visit his/her child in the hospital?