Amazing! I mean, really, truly amazing! On November 4th, I had the horrible experience of being surrounded by a nation of joyful people, and feeling like I was some kind of party-pooper because I just couldn't be happy. The state of Florida had done the unthinkable. It had voted to write discrimination against the LGBT community into the state constitution. And I felt terribly, painfully alone.
Today, November 15th, I looked out from the steps of the old State Capitol Building and saw what I never thought I'd ever see in Tallahassee: lots of gay people, and our allies, marching and chanting, and crying out for justice, and demanding that we right a wrong.
The "Join the Impact Tallahassee" rally started out in front of Florida State University's Westcott Building, where we "others" were interspersed amidst all the happy Homecoming Seminole fans. It was quite fun watching the football junkies observing this gathering of...ummm....people holding signs that don't exactly say, "Go 'Noles". In the photo to the left, a heterosexual couple is posing in front of the Westcott fountain...as the queer couples mingle to talk politics....and in some cases greet friends they hadn't seen in years, and meet folks who traveled from outlining counties and south Georgia.
The members of the Mickee Faust Club turned out in force, both straight and gay. Give us a chance to be loud and colorful and we're not going to shy away. Give us a chance to make a political statement, damn right we'll do it!
Sam, the Second Class Citizen, was with me in the shepherding role (I knew there was a reason I insisted on being a shepherd in the Christmas pageants as a child!) Our job as marshalls was to keep people moving along on the sidewalks and helping to get folks safely across intersections. We had a help for some of the parade route from an FSU police officer on a motorcycle. Without us asking, without any expectation of kindness from this man, he rode his motorcycle, with his flashing lights on, into some of the streets where crossing would be a little more difficult to help us get across. Once we reached the edge of the "campus jurisdiction", he told us, "You're on your own from here!" Many thumbs up to that man. Only fifty years ago...in the days of the Johns Committee...an FSU officer would have been calling in back ups to have us all arrested!
We had fantastic speakers at the Capitol. Rev. Brant Copeland of First Presbyterian Church not only led the crowd in an ecumenical opening prayer, he made the point that he knew the face of Christianity that has been shown to the gay community hasn't been pretty. "Because I have 'Rev.' before my name, I get a lot of mail!" he said. And some of the mail was making the assumption that he agreed with the thieves and the liars who are posing as Christians when they send him letters and videos that condemn the LGBT community. But Copeland, like some other clergy members in Tallahassee, prefer the God that says, "Love thy neighbor" and that includes neighbors of all races, political persuasions and sexual orientations!
Cantor Tanya Tamarkin from Temple Israel not only offered her personal family story of having a transgendered sibling, she also offered that Amendment Two took away from her, as a clergy person, the opportunity to bless same-sex couples. Regardless...she offered us a blessing and a song! Also moving was a moment of silence, taken at 1:30pm Eastern time, to allow each of us a chance to send out our collective prayers and energies to our brothers and sisters rallying in other parts of the country. Anita, did ya feel it?!
There were so many people who spoke out with passion, sometimes pushing through their tears, as they voiced a desire to create a world that is more loving, more accepting, and more willing to live and let live. And there was a desire to not let today be the end of the line. We must continue to work with each other, and take interest in the things that affect other minority groups who may not think that their struggle for equality, and ours, is one in the same. The United States has elected an African-American president, and while that is one barrier we seem to be moving past, there are still many others that remain standing that must be knocked down.
Many congratulations to Tom Bendle, my sweet partner, Isabelle and all the rest of us who helped to make this march and rally a peaceful, and forceful, demonstration of our community's spirit. Now, let's make it soar toward some real change and return the sunshine to the Partly Cloudy State.
"You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself....So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement." James 2: 8; 12-13.