The protesters were different this time around. They were young and gay and straight and angry and ready to walk for miles, up and down and across West Hollywood and Hollywood. It had been something they had been doing since the "No on 8" rally on San Vicente Boulevard broke up at eight-thirty in the evening with another, almost cliche rendition, at this point, of "We Shall Overcome" after another gay rights loss. Instead of singing folk songs all night, the protesters took to the streets.
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"No on 8" protesters march on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood early Thursday morning.
Now it was twelve-thirty on early Thursday morning, exactly 24 hours after the "No on 8" campaign ended it's party at the Music Box Theater on Hollywood Boulevard before all of the results for the Proposition 8 race had been tallied. The 300 or 400 protesters started at San Vicente Boulevard, walked east on Santa Monica Boulevard, took a left onto Crescent Heights Boulevard, headed north to Sunset Boulevard, and turned around at Fairfax Avenue after the Los Angeles Police Department wouldn't let them cross into Hollywood.
"As long as we keep people from going into Hollywood," a friendly police officer told a young guy wearing a white T-shirt, "and keep them in West Hollywood, then they (the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department) have to deal with it."
Another protester heading east on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The protesters had come from Orange County and the San Fernando Valley and West Hollywood and Silver Lake and East L.A. and South Central. They were college students, college students who held full-time jobs, high school students, and people who had just moved to Los Angeles to get away from where they lived. They yelled things like "Yes We Can!" and "Gay or Straight! No on 8!" and "What Do We Want? Equal Rights! When Do We Want It? Now!"
The protesters then headed west on Sunset Boulevard, past all of the straight bars like the Saddleback Ranch and the Red Rock, and the patrons came out and clapped and cheered them on. Then they headed down San Vicente Boulevard, back to Santa Monica Boulevard where they had started.
Young guys talk just before the last rant on San Vicente Boulevard.
It was almost two o'clock in the morning, the crowd was down to 100 people or so, people were singing "Proud Mary" during karaoke night at the nearby Fiesta Cantina, and everyone looked tired and sat down in the middle of the intersection that has been the center of the Los Angeles gay rights movement for decades. The chants were getting more quiet, and, for the first time, the music from the bars was drowning out the calls for equality. A lean, young man, dressed in a gray sweat shirt and jeans with short, black hair, stood up.
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"I had to deal with this shit in Michigan!" he yelled at anyone who would listen, and people took notice, heads immediately swinging in his direction.
"I didn't come here to eat shit! I came here to live my life and love my boyfriend and be free!"
The crowd cheered, and he sat down. It was the last, passionate rant of a long night in West Hollywood.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.