What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!
June 28, 2014 was the celebration of our 3rd Annual Louisiana Equality March. The amount of people that march with Capital City Alliance and Equality Louisiana continues to multiply each year. The faces that painted the crowd represented a vast array of LGBTQ organizations, churches, friends, family, and allies from all over the state. This reality needs to resonate in the hearts of our neighbors and in the hearts of our legislators because the people that attended this march are their neighbors and citizens of this state. Every person, by their very presence at the march, said through their actions, “I am not afraid, I believe in equality for all of us, and I want to stand up for what I believe in.” These brave citizens of Louisiana walked on the public streets in the sweltering heat that rested over the capital city, gathered at the Capitol, and hopefully left that evening with less fear in their hearts and a sense of community in their souls.
I remember the morning I attended the first Equality March and became one of these brave, empowered, and changed citizens. I had a terrible fear in my chest—Am I ready for more than close friends and select family members to know? Is it necessary to do something so public when my life is already ok? Will I be treated differently at the work place? Will it hinder my career opportunities?
After I battled through those fears, courage broke through and said, “If you don’t stand up for yourself, who else will? You chose a profession in which you swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and to advocate for the citizens who cannot otherwise advocate for themselves.” Attending the first Equality March back in 2012 planted the seed to my courage in my everyday life. As each day passed, my fear of the fear of consequences from being out and proud continued to diminish and the support from my family, friends, and coworkers grew. For the first time in my life, a true wholehearted unashamed happiness has been achieved, and I can contribute the positive domino effect to my attendance of the Equality March.
Now two years later, I did not just attend as a brave citizen of Louisiana, but as a changed one—a Capital City Alliance volunteer, board member, and Host of the 3rd Annual Louisiana Equality March. The view from the podium was mesmerizing. There were so many brave, passionate, and compassionate people that sat on the steps of the Capitol on Saturday. It resonated with me that to make changes you have to be brave and unite together. At the end of the rally at the Capitol, I didn’t see individuals from subsets of the LGBTQ or Ally communities. The people that gathered on the Capital steps were a united front—hundreds of men and women from different racial, ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds had come together to celebrate each other and fight for the work left to do. What I saw when I looked across the Capitol steps was a crowd of united and brave people with the same song resonating within them, “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”
Photo by Amanda Pittman Photography