Sunday, November 16, 2008

Overheard at the Rally Against H8

If it had rained, we might have skipped it. But by the time I got to my friend Clive's apartment, he had to agree: "The weather is too agreeable not to protest."

So we took 1 train down to City Hall and joined the Protest Against Proposition 8. organized several thousand gays around the country to simultaneously to protest the hangover after the revitalizing victory of Barack Obama.

We emerged from the subway, disoriented by police barricades. Volunteers instantly rescued us: "Walk ahead four blocks and cross."

"Thank you," I replied. I turned to Clive,"This is all post-Obama. In a week, they managed all this with protesters and volunteers and all by using Facebook."

We meandered our way across the street and into the crowd as people shouted into bullhorns indecipherable objections and waves of cheers swept along the crowd like a random wave. The police had siphoned us into a sliver of the sidewalk. Somewhere there was a focal point with speakers but we could neither make out their words or see them whatsoever.

We stopped and let the crowd parade by us.

Two young men stopped in front of us, happy to have found each other. (This scene would replay itself over-and-over with different casts for the next hour.)

"Oh my god," said one young gay to the other. "High School Musical 3. You. Are. Going. To. Love it!"


"Totally! It's the best of the series."

"Thank god."

Clive laced his arm through mine and smiled.

He let go and took out his camera, trying to capture the homemade signs. It's one of the major bonuses of a gay protest, particularly in New York. There were the obvious "No H8" or "Separate is Not Equal." But better than that were the "Always a Bridesmaid, never a bride (by law)" and "Gay is the New Black" and "Hate Makes Baby Jesus Cry."

I hadn't gone to a protest since the RNC appropriated New York for their convention. The last time I volunteered for a presidential candidate, it was for Michael Dukakis, but I somehow ended up Richmond performing menial work for the candidate Obama.

I'm not dedicated or reliable when it comes to activism, but the ground has shifted and there is an opportunity for change. The rain had stopped that afternoon, clearing the way for our tenuous resolve.

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