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Just Say Yes

The struggle for LGBT rights hits home

When Alibi news editor Marisa Demarco asked if I would cover the National Equality March in D.C. I quickly responded with a great big “Yes”. Nevermind the march took place the weekend I was scheduled to be hauling all my earthly belongings into my new apartment outside Baltimore, and never mind I’d never actually been to D.C. before. I was excited for the opportunity to document this event. (See the piece and other photos here.)

The movement
[click to enlarge]
Maren Tarro
The movement

And then, as I started working on the article, a phone interview with One Struggle, One FightNew Mexico’s Kelly Hutton caused me to seriously think about attending the march as more than a reporter. Her infectious enthusiasm got to me. “Please! Come march with us,” Hutton encouraged me, and her invitation echoed in my thoughts as I made my travel plans.

Additional pressure came in a phone call from my mother who reminded me I had many LGBT friends and family members who would be unable to make it to D.C. The weight on my shoulders was growing heavy. I could have easily shrugged it off by telling myself I was a reporter; my job was to attend as an objective observer and nothing more.

Lady Gaga, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, addresses the crowd and challenges Obama to fulfill his campaign promises.
[click to enlarge]
Maren Tarro
Lady Gaga, a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, addresses the crowd and challenges Obama to fulfill his campaign promises.

But I couldn’t. My conscience wouldn’t be that easily appeased.

So, I marched. I marched in between climbing walls to get the best shots I could, between hanging off light posts to get just the right angle and between tracking down activists from New Mexico. I ran alongside marchers, doubling back to snap photos of clever signs and then hurrying to catch up to marchers arriving at the Capitol. I jumped on and off cement barriers and planters, jogged backwards to catch groups caught up in the moment and ended up with a stress fracture in my left foot. But I marched.

I marched for my aunt Gloria who died last year after a fiercely short battle with ovarian cancer. I marched for her partner Deanna who was referred to only as “friend” and “roommate” at Gloria’s Catholic funeral.

I marched for my HIV-positive cousin Mari, the first transgender person I’d ever met. As I child, I was endlessly fascinated by him, putting him on my list of things to ponder between Boy George and God.

I marched for my cousin Felix, a young lesbian who I have so much admiration for. She is unapologetic for her identity even to her devoutly Catholic family.

I marched for all my LGBT friends over the years who are too numerous to name. But I will make special mention of John Cook, a nurse and teacher who may very well be the best drinking buddy a gal can have.

Lt. Dan Choi salutes the crowd on the Capitol lawn wearing duct tape over his mouth, a symbolic representation of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
[click to enlarge]
Maren Tarro
Lt. Dan Choi salutes the crowd on the Capitol lawn wearing duct tape over his mouth, a symbolic representation of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

And I marched for all those who made their way to D.C. to support their community. For the military personnel thrown out under DADT, for the young people bullied in school over their sexuality, the parents who aren’t recognized as parents under current laws, partners who are refused the right to be at their loved one’s sides in hospitals, those ostracized in their churches and the countless others who find themselves denied anything based on their orientation, I marched.

The march continues. Now is the time to write letters to our senators, representatives and councilmen. Now is the time to tell everyone you know to support our friends and family in their old-as-time struggle for equal treatment under the law.

I marched for my loved ones, but will you?

 
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