For a little over a week, I have covered “No on 8” rallies in West Hollywood and at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple, and I have walked with protesters as they marched through the streets of Westwood, Hollywood, and Silver Lake. I have talked with people–gay and straight–in their twenties and thirties, interviewed longtime community activists and “No on 8” campaign staffers, and attended various media events. When you talk and meet with these many people, you can see certain things coming down the road. While I'm not entirely comfortable writing a quasi-editorial, and I'll probably never do it again, I want to briefly share a few things before the big rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday morning.
A protester marches through Westwood March last Thursday afternoon.
From what I've seen as a journalist, the gay community appears to be standing at a crossroads. Right now, we have many people, from many different ethnic, racial, and religious communities, who are straight and support us like never before. In fact, when I talk with them, they often seem more upset about last Tuesday night than some of my gay friends. We have their complete support, and they want to help us overturn Proposition 8 and give us back the right to marry.
Protests are obviously necessary, and protests were most certainly necessary last Wednesday night and for the rest of last week. The marches let the world know that we, the gay community, were shocked, hurt, and angry. The protests put people on notice.
But from my reporting, I can also see that we are quickly coming to a point where reckless protesting may turn off all kinds of people, whether they are gay and new to activism or they are straight and new to walking alongside gay activists. If that happens, we will miss the chance to build newer, stronger, and broader coalitions and movements for decades to come. We will need these coalitions because the fight for equality is far from over, and our opponents will continue to attack one way or another. We, the gay community, can go our own way, but we will probably squander the goodwill that Proposition 8 has now handed us.
For the past week, I've been waiting for that eloquent gay leader to step up and explain this golden opportunity, and then put those words into action. Maybe with all of the time I've spent on the street, I've missed that speech and the necessary follow up. If so, I apologize in advance. So far, though, I haven't heard from that leader, and I'd much rather report about that person and that movement, than the opportunity that passed us by.
New poster by Shepard Fairey.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.