I don’t know that I could have written a less descriptive or creative title for this post, but I really don’t know what else to say. It was, truly, an amazing weekend. Washington, DC was crawling with LGBT activists and allies, supporters and protesters. I can’t do any of it justice with a single post (not to mention, words) but here’s a basic chronology:
Saturday October 10th: spent a beautiful evening at the Human Rights Campaign’s national dinner with Jeremy, Janet, Jill, Ann, Jane Lynch and the cast of Glee, Lady GaGa, Judy and Dennis Shepard, Representative Patrick Kennedy and, ahhh yes, the President of the United States!
Here is his speech, in three parts. (If you’d prefer to read it, the text of his speech is here.)
Sunday October 11th: marched for Equality. One estimate I read put the crowd somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 people. What I know is that I haven’t marched in a crowd of that magnitude since the 2004 anti-war demonstrations in Boston. Whatever the official tally, it felt massive.
Here are a few shots that I snapped with my phone:
There has been a lot of criticism flying around about this weekend’s events. Some of the arguments about the march that I have heard include: marches don’t accomplish anything; time, energy, and money should be going to the states (in particular, Washington and Maine); get out of the streets and get on the phone to your representatives in Congress (which, I might add, DC residents don’t have); no one in Congress pays any attention to marches; it was organized without consulting any supportive members of Congress or other national advocacy groups; why isn’t the Human Rights Campaign being more supportive; and on and on.
Everyone is organizing, and yet, no one seems to be pleased. There are two issues here, both related: one is that many LGBT Americans don’t believe that Obama is delivering on the commitments he made during the campaign; critics have been angry at HRC and its supporters for going to a fancy dress ball and listening to the President deliver what, in their estimation, is more hollow rhetoric and empty promises. The other is about the march — many of these critics are taking to the streets (rather than to the ballrooms) to march for change.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend both the HRC dinner, where I heard the president speak, and the National Equality March, where I walked alongside thousands of other people who want to hold our president accountable to those promises and achieve real equality in this country for LGBT Americans. For many people out there, this is an either/or issue. I don’t see it that way.
My feelings on the matter have evolved in recent weeks. Personally, I was not sold on the idea of the march until recently. Maybe that makes me more assimilationist and less transgressive (or maybe it just makes me lazy), but I felt very ambivalent about the march … until I read Judy Shepard’s memoir, then I started lacing up my walking shoes.