The National Equality March weekend begins in a few days and buzz is building throughout the community. Despite the criticism for the leadership's lack of organization, it is pivotal that we pull out big numbers for the march. For once, we can learn a lesson from republicans: stick together, be "homo", homogeneous that is.
More importantly, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Act of DC was introduced to the council this Tuesday, October 6th; announced by openly-gay DC council member David Catania at the 1st Annual LGBT Convocation for Marriage Equality last Wednesday.
It appears someone was listening when bloggers suggested moving forward with outreach and grassroots efforts. DC is a many-fibered diaspora of histories, cultures and struggles; it took an outside voice to make us realize we should be taking advantage of that.
Rev. Eric E. Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership laid out several points about diversity and solidarity in the movement in his speech at the convocation. "There are five tenets in organizing [all carrying over into one another]," said Lee. "Education, organization, mobilization, agitation and transformation." In CA, he mentioned, equality activists fell short of what they needed to do to frame the movement as a civil rights issue. While this can be a touchy subject, especially for African Americans, I feel we need to tackle the issue head on. DC could be the poster child for the world in regards to the equality movement. The LGBT community pays taxes like our straight counterparts, but not only do we not have a vote, we are at the mercy of congress to decide what rights we should have. We are a community without a voice and we must address that.
Our mobilization must include outreach and education to the people; per Rev. Lee's advice, we should also address the discrimination that exists within our community. "Justice must be universal," and not only will it strengthen us as a group, it will provide the rest of the world with an example of how to do diversity correctly. While simultaneously addressing our own prejudices, we must contact the moderate voters. We know now, from several preceding social movements, that targeting and trying to change minds of the extremists is a futile operation. We are not going to convince someone, who is fiercely against equal rights, to come all the way over to our side; however, the ones sitting on the fence may just need a little push.
Rev. Lee thoroughly explained agitation in the community, an area I think we're making improvements in. Instead of trying to change extremists minds, we need to call them on their discrimination with articulate and well formed arguments. According to Lee, "[We must be] an irritant in a society where the blemish of discrimination must be washed out. Do not bear the burden of oppression; it is not your responsibility. Make the oppressors defend their discrimination!" Powerful words with a more significant meaning. We must be out, we must practice solidarity by enlisting our allies to speak on our behalf. In order to transform the movement into an unstoppable force, we need people to join together and actively practice anti-oppression. That means speaking up when you hear the word "fag", or stopping your buddies from bullying a kid with anti-gay slurs. We need to stop being spectators and get on the field. We need our congressional representatives on the line and our sneakers on the street. We are sprinting to the finish line, standing shoulder to shoulder, with every color of our rainbow pride flag.
Information about the National Equality March can be found here: