On June 11, we put aside our differences for at least one day, join hands, and speak out together in the Equality March for Unity and Pride. We know within the LGBTQ+ community there are many of the same issues as in the greater community; issues such as racism, transphobia, economic inequality. But for one Sunday let us believe in the possibility of building and fighting for a better future together. To achieve that better future we must be able to talk to each other and learn from each other, as much as we need to talk to and change the community around us.
On June 11 in D.C., and in sister marches around the world, we ask all those who support human and civil rights to join with us and speak out. We will march in unity and with pride, demanding fairness and equality for those most marginalized among us and for those most marginalized in the greater community.
The focus of the march must be to challenge those who have made themselves the enemy of decency and justice. That enemy today is represented by the president of the United States and many around him, including Steve Bannon and others who would gladly take away the rights we have fought so hard for. The Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to bring to the floor and debate the Equality Act. The president’s cabinet represented by Betsy DeVos, secretary of education, who has stated under oath she wouldn’t fight any state wanting to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities.
We recognize the LGBTQ+ community cannot stand alone. We will march with women when they march; we will march with immigrants when they march; we stand with those demanding action on climate change; and we will continue to stand with those who are denied access to their voting rights and denied a fair chance in our justice system. It is only when we stand together that we make progress and secure all our rights.
The idea for this march began with one activist watching the success of the women’s march. Then a small group of dedicated individuals came together to begin planning. They bent over backwards to ensure the public face of the march would be diverse. That it would be representative of grassroots activists. Mistakes were made. There were the usual fights over whether corporations and our national organizations should be approached for support and debates over what constituted enough diversity. The feelings enunciated at those early meetings were real and heartfelt. In the end, the name of the march was decided on to represent what we all came to believe; it was important to make a statement about being proud of who we are and the need to unite our community in shared goals.
Recently, a small group of activists decided to attack Capital Pride for some of its policies. I don’t know about other cities and states but in the District of Columbia we celebrate ‘out’ members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and celebrate that an out transgender sergeant was named head of the LGBT Liaison Unit. We can do that and still speak out and fight the horrific injustices faced by African Americans, trans women and other minority communities perpetrated by some members of police forces across the nation. Hopefully those activists will join with others, including Capital Pride, which supports the very diverse group of co-chairs and honorary chairs of the June 11 march recognizing we are stronger when we stand together.
If we are to move forward as a community we cannot sweep our own differences under the rug. We need to face them head on, talk about them, and work to create change. While that work goes on we must respect the desire of various communities to celebrate Pride in the way they choose and do so in safe spaces. We must respect and support Black Pride, Trans Pride, Youth Pride and any group that feels they want to celebrate Pride within their own community and how they choose. Each of us is entitled to that.
But on June 11 let us join with one voice speaking to power and proudly march, “Mobilizing LGBTQ+ communities, our loved ones and our allies – with particular focus on those who have been actively silenced and neglected – in the fight to affirm and protect our rights, our safety and our full humanity.”
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.