Marching for Equality
As the bus pulled away from Epworth United Methodist Church, a few passengers looked up at the steeple. There, a bald eagle sat vigilant, the iconic symbol of God and country. The bus made its way to Washington, DC, where the Rehoboth Beach contingent joined other faithful from Rehoboth along with many thousands of others from around the country in the 2017 Equality March for Unity and Pride.
The March had moments of muffled outrage, as the crowd walked past the White House. The March had moments of levity, with such creative signs as “We Shall Overcomb,” “Mike Pence Blocked me on Grindr,” and “On a Queer Day You Can See Forever.” At the conclusion of the March, there were keynote speakers and vendor tables sponsored by banks, churches, government agencies, and health-related organizations. The event that day, and all weekend, promoted diversity and acceptance.
The fine folks who rode the bus each had specific motivation for setting aside a beautiful day on the beach for walking the hot sidewalks and streets of Washington, DC. Here are some thoughts from the participants on why they chose to march.
Jeff Schuck: I marched to show our current administration that the LGBT community is deserving of the same rights as all other Americans. I also wanted to be a part of this history-making event.
Marsha Davis: “We the People” Means Everyone. This is a great T-shirt and my feeling for why I marched. It is my country, and my responsibility to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to be included.
Bill Robbins: This was my first march. I generally write letters to elected officials as a constituent expressing my concerns. President Trump has been taking hurtful actions toward minority and the LGBTQ communities. It is imperative that everyone take action.
Rob Jasinski: This was my first time attending and as I marched alongside my brothers and sisters I couldn’t help but reflect on the many men and women, some no longer with us, who paved the way before me so that I could have the freedoms they struggled for—loving whomever we choose and a life of equality. It was not only my duty, but an honor and privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder, head held high and proclaim what is rightfully ours!
Robert Alloway: Marching for me was not only to pay homage to those leaders who courageously paved the way before me in the fight for gay rights, but also to stand in unity with individuals, gay or straight, who believe in love, equality and tolerance. In that vein, it gave me an opportunity to step out of the shadows and into the diversity limelight with those who share my ideology and convey one simple message to our President: love will always trump hate.
Carole Ramos: I marched because this year, more than in the past, the political leadership in this country is moving us further away from equality for all. I never thought in 2017 we would be in this devastating position to have to defend the rights of LGBTQ and women!
Debbie Woods and Leslie Sinclair: We marched because it was an opportunity to express our pride, equality, solidarity and make our voices heard.
Sherry Berman and Deb Hamilton: We felt it important to be counted and to stand up against all the oppressive issues we are experiencing during this administration. This was not a gay march per se but a march/rally to support equality, diversity and inclusivity for all. This is the foundation of our country so we can’t let up. We need to continue coming out in force. Otherwise we will not effect change!
Sam Deetz: I have been in this struggle since 1975. At that time, I gathered a group of friends I knew from gay bars in a rural area of Central Pennsylvania. We formed the Susquehanna Valley Gays United, in Northumberland County. We participated in the battle to repeal our state’s “sodomy” statute. Along with others from around the state, we organized a “Lobby Day” that brought together about 125 people from all areas of PA, to lobby our legislature. We asked them to repeal the “sodomy” statute, as we told them our stories about the discrimination that we faced every day. Since then, I have regularly attended and participated in such actions. Our struggle has recently encountered a most threatening and dangerour situation with political polarization, and the recent election of Donald Trump. My desire to continue to do whatever it takes, for as long as I can, made me take the bus to the Equality March for Unity and Pride.
Debbie McCall: I marched because my wife wanted to march. After being at the Women’s March in January, I did not have a strong desire to go. But since January with our new President, I felt that our voices needed to be heard and wanted to be part of that voice in Washington. My fear is that what we gained in the last eight years will be taken away, and we need to have our voices heard.
My own reasons for being at the March are that equality, unity, and pride are indeed concerns of the LGBTQ community, but also those of the straight community. As a straight person who strives for acceptance of all, it was important for me to add my voice to show my support in a very real way. Those who marched came from all walks of life and represented all ages. They celebrated, they reflected, they shouted and they spoke. The message is clear—we are here, we are LGBTQ (and Allies) and we are not going to be silent. We want a country that provides equality for all its citizens. Every single one.