Tomorrow is a national day of protest for GLBT people. There are protests in dozens of cities across America. The immediate purpose of the protest is to demonstrate against Proposition 8, the anti-marriage amendment that recently passed in California, and the other anti-gay ballot measures that passed in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona. The longer term purpose is to re-awaken the struggle for gay rights. This protest is being called the beginning of a new movement -- Stonewall 2.0. If we don't stand up and speak up and take control of the political debate, we're going to continue to get pushed around by the rightwing conservatives who want to shove us back in the closet and strip us of the rights we have fought hard to win.
Every GLBT person should make an effort to attend a protest near them. Even if you don't believe that marriage equality is the most important issue facing gay and lesbian people today, you should make an effort to join a protest. If we truly want to fight as a movement of people, we will sometimes be required to subjugate our priorities to the priorities of the larger movement -- and right now, that movement is about marriage equality.
We need to speak with one voice. We need to unite together. The time to do that is now. The movement, called Join the Impact
, is a true grass-roots effort. It was started by an average person, a lesbian in Seattle who wanted to do something to speak out against the anti-gay election results across America in four different states representing more than 80 million Americans. She came up with the idea, shared it with a few friends and built a simple website for it. The rest of the movement took off on its own. If you've ever wanted to be part of a true grass-roots political movement, now is your opportunity.
I believe that the protest tomorrow is an important first step in translating beliefs into actions that will lead to civil rights gains for gay Americans. If we truly want to be treated as equals, with equal work rights, equal family rights, and so on, then we're going to have to take a lesson from the Civil Rights Movement and get out there are demonstrate and make our voices heard. I doubt that the Civil Rights Movement would have been as successful as it was if it wasn't as coordinated as it was, with people working in unison towards the larger goal. It's time for Gay America to join together and speak out and demand equality, much like Black America did beginning more than a half century ago.
Along with much of the rest of Gay America, I have spent a fair amount of time recently fuming against a couple of religious organizations that have been active in the fight to strip rights from gay people. While I am still angry, I no longer believe that it is fruitful to fight against these particular religious organizations themselves. Instead of focusing on inflicting revenge on the "bad guys", I am going to focus on making my voice heard. There is nothing to gain from trying to avenge our political loss on November 4.
What made me reconsider my desire to inflict pain on these religions was my recent reflection upon my upbringing as a member of another socially conservative religion. I knew I was gay before I even knew what that meant. If, as a kid, I had seen angry gay people protesting in front of my church as my family pulled into the parking lot for Sunday worship I think it would have made my journey of coming out even more difficult later on in my life. For the sake of the gay kids out there who are part of families that belong to those anti-gay religions, I believe we should focus more on getting our message across than on seeking revenge.
There is no point in flaming the fires of anger between gay people and the anti-gay religious leaders who seek to destroy us. We will never win those men and women to our side. Instead, we should focus on reaching out and getting our message out to whomever we can get to listen. We should focus on the conversations that we need to be having with our friends and neighbors about why marriage equality is the right approach and why it is important to us.
We lost badly in California among many minority populations. That indicates that we still have much work to do. Instead of fostering ill will with those people, we should be figuring out how to win them over. We still have many people to connect with and many conversations to hold. The effort should be on opening up a lines of dialogue, not on shouting the other side down. We won't be able to win over everyone, but I believe that there are many people that we can still win over by reaching out and talking to them and treating them with dignity and respect.
If we let ourselves become bitter, we will lose our opportunity to take our message to a larger population. Now is not the time to do that. Now is the time to join together, stand up, and refuse to accept the existing status quo.
Whoever you are, whatever you believe, if you support gay rights, please consider joining the grass-roots, people-powered protests on Saturday, November 15th. If this is really Stonewall 2.0, how can you not join in? You can find your local protest on the Join the Impact