On Sunday, Oct. 11, activists, community organizers and concerned citizens from across America took the long walk past the White House to the U.S. Capitol building with rainbow flags blazing and fists in the air, all in the name of equality.
The National Equality March drew an estimated 200,000 people to Washington, D.C., to send a message to policymakers, Americans and the world at large, that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people aren’t going to take it anymore. Equality is on the horizon, almost within arm’s reach.
A myriad of LGBT issues was discussed in D.C. – the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, gay marriage, an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and changing attitudes toward LGBT people in general – and a spirit of hope filled the air: Yes we can.
Speaking of Obama’s catchphrase, he became the second president to speak at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual national dinner on the eve of the march. Former President Clinton spoke as well, but not until he was elected to his second term.
And while Obama should be applauded for so publicly affirming his commitment to the LGBT community – especially before he has secured an additional four-year stay at the White House – where were the specifics?
“This fight continues now, and I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight,” said Obama to an uproar of applause at the HRC national dinner.
While that’s all well and good, where’s the plan of action? It seems that Obama is only committed to appeasing the queers with speeches at black-tie dinners.
It was a good thing Obama opened for Lady GaGa at the HRC national dinner (he spoke right before she performed, and joked about being the opening act), because she seems to be taking more action than him to help the LGBT community.
The Lady herself one-upped the leader of the free world by speaking at on the steps of the Capitol building, an opportunity Obama declined.
“I have seen and witnessed so many things over the past two years and I can say with such certainty that this is the single most important moment of my career [being at the march],” said Lady GaGa at the rally following the march. “As a woman in pop music … To do my part, I refuse to accept any misogynistic and homophobic behavior in music lyrics or actions in the music industry.”
Lady GaGa even had the gumption to call out her opening act during her speech. “Obama, I know that you’re listening. Are you listening?” screamed Lady GaGa. “We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality. We need change now. We demand action now.”
The pop star even made the rounds to gay bars prior to the march urging people to get their “asses to D.C. and wear something fabulous.”
It seems the queers now have a new first lady.
Or at least one that is willing to step out of the safety of a black tie dinner that creates a clear stratification of LGBT Americans: One must be able to pay the $250.00 minimum admission fee to get in, clearing leaving a lot of LGBT people out.
That’s why the streets of D.C. were filled with drag queens, rainbows, signs and marchers with every identity possible, all with their own individual interests and oppressions: The accessibility made the march beautiful.
The march unified the many factions of the LGBT community in a way not seen for sometime. The fight for civil rights was reignited. Celebrities came out in full force to endorse the march. History was made.
The National Equality March changed the name of the game for LGBT people: The movement for equality is no longer on the backburner, not when it has zoomed past the White House to break down the door of Congress’ home.