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Stand for Equality

While it seemed that everyone else at the National Equality March in DC wanted to see Lady Gaga, my Starstruck Moment happened when Lt. Dan Choi’s personal space overlapped the orbit of mine. There are a lot of people I respect, but I usually don’t lose my shit over any of them. Choi’s a rockstar. His golden aura blasted through my sunglasses, I shit you not.

Approaching the Capitol--Natl Equality March 2009

Approaching the Capitol--Natl Equality March 2009

The person I’ll remember most held a sign that stated, “This Straight Woman Stands With You.” As I remember, she held the sign above her head. The vertical presentation struck me; she looked immovable. But she was alone. No one around her interacted with her. She appeared pleasant but unremarkable, someone I could pass in the grocery store and not give a second thought. The people near me cheered, and I cheered with them. The straight woman who stood with us gave a smile but seemed shy about the attention.

She made an impact on me, but I had to keep going. The day was about travel: By van and train and foot. From central PA to DC. From McPherson Square to the White House and on to the Capitol. From separation to unity. But not from discrimination to equality.

The March inspired me, but it’s too early to say what sort of historic significance it will have. If those who are throwing that term around believe it was precedent-setting, I’d argue it was decidedly unhistoric. We have held other marches for LGBT equality. We have persevered despite little progress. It’s insulting that we still haven’t convinced our leaders and fellow citizens that we deserve equal rights. In that respect, the stakes are as high as ever.

"Let me put a ring on it."--Natl Equality March 2009

"Let me put a ring on it."--Natl Equality March 2009

The golden glow of the day began to fade as we walked to the Metro. Still together for a few minutes more, we were already preparing for the separation, knowing it would be difficult to maintain the energy that had powered us all day, especially those of us in rural communities where it’s difficult to find many out people, nevertheless organize them.

More than anything, the day was about people. People walking, holding protest signs, partners’ hands, their own heads held high. People standing alongside the route cheering us on. People shouting, some of them into microphones. People talking, many of them into cell phones. People texting, tweeting, blogging, some of them not even there but nevertheless doubtful that the event was a success–even before the last of the marchers decided whether to cram onto the west lawn of the Capitol or head up Louisiana to Union Station.

We knew that many of the critics, who had started bashing the event as poorly attended, insignificant, etc., were our own people. Same shit, different March. But the work must continue.

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