LGBT Couple SPEAKS ON STAGE at Nat. Immigration Rally on Sunday – After Direct Actionists Protest on Friday!
Greeting and gratitude Direct Actionists!!!
On Friday around 4:36 you made history by ensuring that the LGBT community was represented ON STAGE at the March For America – the largest immigration reform rally in history.
As you know, we called the Center for Community Change (CCC) that morning to find out which LGBT groups were speaking, only to get the run around and dismissed by an overworked press person who said the matter was closed.
Well, thanks to you, no matter is closed anymore – ever.
By 6:30ish – after the call went out for a phone zap on CCC — we were talking to key folks at CCC who clearly understood. And by Sunday around 3:30, a LESBIAN LATINA COUPLE were on-stage speaking our words: “We will no longer hide in the shadows!!!”
Lisbeth Melendez, the ED of Unid@s (the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgered Human Rights Organization), received the call on Friday inviting someone to speak. They had raised the issue too with the National Immigration Forum (a bigger player than CCC), but it took you and Friday to make the deal.
Huge kudos go out to Marissa Graciosa, Immigration Campaign Coordinator at CCC, and their Executive Director, Deepak Bhagava who, with your help, made this happen. They stood up for what is right, though maybe we hit them a bit rough.
Some of our callers clearly upset the staff at CCC, and while that’s unfortunate, the seriousness of the matter called for drastic action. Although friendships are no reason to avoid accountability, to the contrary, they may justify some discretion in tone. The plea for fast action did say they were friends, and it does matter. (Please email thank you’s and any apologies to: [email protected]).
But our presence on that stage was no small deal. Because our friends stood up for us, we have already changed the stage inside and out and the USCCB (US Conf. of Catholic Bishops) was there to witness it.
Sporting medical masks with “GAY IMMIGRANT” in big pink letters on it, were many other friends like Robin McGeehee of GetEqual, and Dan Choi (sans mask), and LOTS of members of Immigration Equality, as well as Out4Immigration, Make the Road, FIERCE, and almost the whole New York Bus Load which marched to the WWII Memorial and then together to the Mall chanting: “Let Us Speak” “Hey Hey Ho Ho, Homphobia’s Got to Go” and “We’re Here, We’re Queer, You Are Not Alone”.
On the way, we passed the Washington Monument where Zoe and Chris and others were holding a community Vigil for bi-national couples and handing out rainbow-colored wristbands with “UAFA Passage 2010.” It was GREAT to connect and hug a human person whom I had only known via email, as all virtual organizers understand!
Upon arrival, we joined the Rally like all the other groups and a huge rainbow flag arrived towering amongst the American flags and the Capital in the distance. There’s almost nothing like it.
According to some reports, a smaller group went further and stood at the stage chanting: “Let Us Speak. Let Us Speak. Let Us Speak!” Supposedly some “seasoned immigration activists” later deployed this as “foolish.” But the CCC did not alert us that we were being represented, and there was still a point to be made to the cadre of speakers (and coalition partners) at the stage. That point was clear after our people spoke.
According to ED Melendez of Unid@s, they approached the stage around 2:30 and waited an hour or so, during which NO SPEAKER mentioned us. After our representative — Marcela Aguilar Gonzalas — spoke with her partner Ana at her side, evidently, almost every other speaker mentioned “sexual orientation” or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.” That is the point.
I could cry writing this because we left around that time to eat, unaware this was about to happen and missed it. So my joy started when I received a call from GetEqual, Donald Hitchcock, who said we had done it. We had spoken. A lesbian, bi-national couple, representing a LGBT GROUP had SPOKEN ON STAGE.
Today I got all the details and confirmation. I also heard from some friends at CCC that they are as thrilled as we are with the outcome. They not only “heard us and listened” but they respected our taking action. This is what friendship in politics really means.
The more Direct Actionists (DAs) that speak up, the more this will be true. We are right, and have waited too long to call these questions. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
p.s. Stand by for the Schumer letter and action. It’s just the beginning. DAs Rock!!!
p.p.s. Photos are available at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=218146&id=584103635&l=e293f7ab92
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