Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gay Families Matter

I just got back from Lansing, where about 250-300 LGBT and allies rallied under the theme of "Gay Families Matter". We were protesting the passage of 4770 and 4771, and the general atmosphere of intolerance in Lansing.

Lansing. Capitol Steps. 1/18/12.
photo Sandi Smith
It was a wonderful empowering experience. It reminded me of the wonderful, empowering experience of one of my first marches down Woodward circa 1980. Yup. There were queers back then. I think a triceratops may have been in the vicinity.

It reminded me of that time, because the atmosphere in the capitol today reminds me a lot of the attitudes of most people back then. It is not even intolerance. It is homophobia and hate. (It should be noted that Representatives Sean McCann and Jeff Irwin joined us in the cold, because they understand that Gay Families Matter).

Unfortunately, it also reminded me of the numbers we gathered back then. A march of 250-300 people seemed like such a HUGE number of gays and lesbians in those days. It was exciting...and kinda hot. (And in those days there were no bisexuals or transgender folk. Oh how young and naive we and the movement were).

I am not unhappy about the number of people who turned out today. There were some great things accomplished. This rally was put together on about ten days notice, in the middle of a workday, in the middle of January. Further, many organizations across the state came together for this rally. Antonio David Garcia showed real regional leadership by bringing this coalition together. That is going to be a great legacy of today going forward.

I am also aware that in this economically challenged state it is not easy to drop everything and run to Lansing. I'm lucky. Martin stayed behind to get the restaurant ready to open, so that I could be there.

However, if we are going to make an impact, we need more than the 250 people who showed up to work for the cause. As David rightly pointed out, we need our straight allies to "come out of the closet". They need to be active and vocal about our civil rights.

But we can't expect it of them if we don't do it ourselves.

I probably personally recognized 75% of the people at this rally. I recognized folks from Equality Michigan, Affirmations, Jim Toy Community Center, and the ACLU. I recognized folks from the Prop 2 campaign.

And it was warm and a family reunion. So it felt very real chanting "Gay Families Matter".

But we need a bigger "family".

And you'll see great pictures from Between The Lines and OutPost in their next respective issue. Unfortunately you will NOT see pictures in Or the Detroit Free Press. Or any other publication. Because frankly, they don't care.

We have to make them care.

The Mattachine Society
And we have to get our friends and family to care.

The other feeling I had was how much this looked like Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, and the dozen or so folks in the Mattachine Society who marched in front of Independence Hall, walking around and around in a small circle. Out of that small group a movement was born. It is our responsibility to walk in their shoes.

Its up to all of us to figure out if our gatherings will continue to feel like warm and fuzzy family reunions, or the voices of a large community daring to speak truth to power.