Happy Monday all,
I always am curious about things when I try something new, and this weekend my creative juices are flowing from my participation in a new first – a protest! For those of you who don’t know me that well, I’m you’re standard-issue WASP-y Republican gay – two-parent household, one sister, goes to church, voted in every election since I turned 18, undergrad & graduate degree educated Southern California blond 28 year old boy who peppers public policy presentations with stories that begin with “Dude, there was this one time…”
The closest I ever found myself to a protest was in 2004 when MediaLizzy and I were running through the streets of New York, doging rotten fruit being thrown at us and our posse of reporters and delegates at the RNC Convention, and this year in 2008 while I was standing at the front of our Delegation buses with armed state troopers looking for protesters and keeping them out of the sight of my media folks.
So on Saturday, I found myself on the OTHER side of the police line, with the protesters. As all of you I’m sure know (and hopefully have been inconvenienced by), gays & our supporters across the nation are more than irritated with the passage of Proposition 8 in California – the constitutional amendment (or revision) that would ban gay marriage here in CA. Mind you, we had it, and now it has been taken away, so we gays interpret this as an infringement on our civil rights. So what’s why we’re mad.
Mind you, I’m not a big fan of protests – but I did a lot for the No on 8 campaign – voted, wrote a check, in-kinded a TON of my professional time to the campaign, etc., so I have a vested interest. Besides, visitbility is important, I wanted to stand in solidarity, and hell – maybe I’d meet someone.
Because the protest was in downtown LA (and I hate driving downtown), my gang of friends and I decided to go “green” and take the subway. Well, we weren’t the only ones who thought of that idea, and there was like 1,000 gays in the station and the most petrified group of 20 Japanese tourists you’ve EVER seen in your life.
So the protest was interesting…somewhere around 10,000 pissed off fags and our supporters/allies. It was peaceful, of course. LAPD & LA County Sherrifs were on hand. Of course, you can’t have a protest without a dozen political speechs, mostly labor and Democrats. Needless to say, I made snide comments about each and every one of them, but I can’t resist it. I’m sorry…but I can’t resist taking pot shots against our adulterous, cheating devorcee Mayor (Antonio Villaraigosa) when he’s up there quoting scripture from the Bible.
Finally, we gays were getting impatient and about 2/3rs through the docket of speaches started chanting“Let’s go march…let’s go march!” Which we did, for about 10 blocks, making a big “U” pattern. I really didn’t notice any counter-protesters, so that was fine. I guess they didn’t want to come downtown, or knew it wouldn’t be safe to do so.
I had to bail out of the march about 2/3rds of the way through, as I needed to get back to Hollywood to go to a reception later that afternoon, but it was definitely an interesting and valuable experience.
I’ve taken a few things away from this whole experience. Right after our defeat on Nov. 5th, I was sad and angry, but respectful of the decisions the voters made. But the more I thought about it, and the more I studdied the law and thought about what was at stake here, the more I started to question my decision to sit on my hands.
The gay rights struggle really is the new civil rights struggle. I mean, back in Martin Luther King’s days, when they lost a court case or something, they just didn’t just sit and strategize about victory in the next election…they took to the streets…protests, marchs, sit ins, boycotts, etc. Looking back, they were fighting for the same things we gays are now (separate is NOT equal), and we’re using exactly the same methods they had to use.
I’ll use this space in the future to discuss further the economic impact of boycotts, the Mormon church and other issues concerning the evangelical base in this nation, but on Saturday I joined with others in relinquishing our normal facades – I wasn’t my normal Republican political consultant self who used to work for the President, who coordinated national media operations or led Republican politics – I was a gay man who just had my rights stripped of me – and was marching in solidarity with many others who had the same happen to them.