EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW!” There we stood chanting, yelling, as loud as we could. We were hoping to drown out the hate-fueled words being shouted at us. We stood in a single line 25 or so, each holding a piece of a large blue banner emblazoned with the words of our rally cry. The banner itself playing an important role in gay history; hand-sewed by world-famous political activist, and creator of the iconic rainbow flag Gilbert Baker.
Many of these activists traveled down from NY“C, leaving at 4 or 5 am, on buses sponsored by The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. On the bus are members of “Gays Against Guns,” “Rise and Resist” and “Whistleblowers.” Joining them on the bus are dozens of students from Hunter College.
Buses sponsored by Housing Works were not far behind us. These brave activists volunteering to participate in a Civil Demonstration. Over 100 linked arms and sat in the street for hours, knowing they would be getting arrested.
I was honored to stand with my queer brothers and sisters and our allies in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday October 8th. The Supreme Court was hearing arguments in three landmark cases involving anti-gay and anti-transgender discrimination.
Who are these activists? Why are there here today? I was curious to know their motivations, and what drew them to wake up at 3am and travel 5 hours each way for a roughly 3 hour protest.
One of the unofficial “leaders” of our contingent was Ken Kidd. Ken has been at the forefront of the Queer Liberation movement since the beginning. His activism stemming from a violent gay-bashing in the early 80s. An ACT UP member from day one, Ken is also a founding member of Queer Nation. Queer Nation, born in the spring of 1990, helped the gay community take back and reclaim the word queer. If you have ever said “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” you should thank Queer Nation. QN was instrumental in the passage of hate crime legislation — protesting in Albany numerous times.
Ken “believes that every LGBTQ+ person is equal in every way to every other person in the USA. To say that you can fire Brendon for loving a man yet you can’t fire Brenda for loving the same man is bullshit!”
Elissa a 55 year-old married mother of two and a founding member of Whistleblowers told me “not everyone has the opportunity to be fighting on the front lines. I am standing up for those who cant. It’s a horrible thought to be discriminated against because of who you are.”
Sitting behind me on the bus, Chauncey, who works in the nightlife industry wants to “remind people that the fight is far from over. Too many people are unaware of what’s at stake right now. Too much complacency. I am here to lead by example.”
Anne found out about the buses through her work with the Emergency Bail Fund. Anne, a documentary filmmaker, stressed to me that “we are not free until we are all free.” Here in solidarity, Anne works with the Emergency Bail Fund hoping to “get the women out of jail so they can reform our criminal justice system.”
DJ, 61, a lesbian shared with me that she “knew from the age of 4 I was never going to marry a man and have his babies. That’s the only difference I have ever felt. So I deserve the same rights as everyone else.”
Jimmy and Alex, 20 year old queer students and best friends feel “the rights of so many queer individuals are not protected. We are on this bus to raise awareness and fight for our equality.”
Lastly, Jay a 21 year old who identifies as transgender, said rather succinctly, “Everyone deserves to have basic fundamental work rights.”
For myself and my reasonings for going to DC, I echo Chauncey reminding everyone that the fight for equality continues. Now more than ever we need all hands on deck. As empowering and inspiring the rally was, it was also somewhat discouraging. Opponents of our fight showed up in full force. Their numbers were strong, their voices were loud and they were mobilized. Honestly, I was taken aback at the sight of them. This is 2019. How is this still up for debate??
My queer brothers and sisters – we need each and every one of you! Anything you can do, can and will help. If you are financially comfortable, consider making a donation. If you are active on social media, use your voice to raise awareness and inspire others. Become more active in your community in whatever capacity you can.
As this war for equality rages on, good will prevail over evil. Right will prevail over wrong. And love with prevail over hate. Remember, what do the words on that wall say? EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.