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Long Beach Unity Rally – LGBT People as 1st Class Citizens

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Hey Prop8TrialTrackers — please welcome Ana, Courage Campaign’s Communications Manager, to P8TT for her first post. Ana has been working to amplify efforts in the media to repeal DOMA and support SB48, among many other projects. She comes to us from the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press and Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Ana spoke at yesterday’s rally and penned this piece afterwards. For video of the rally, Towleroad has footage. -Adam

By Ana Beatriz Cholo

Last night, gay and straight allies attended a Unity Rally at a popular Long Beach park to denounce three recent attacks on five gay men.

The crimes, surprisingly, occurred in the Broadway Corridor of the city, a gay-friendly area where it’s typically safe for two men or women to walk down the street, holding hands or arms linked together.

Martin Sanchez and his friends were leaving a gay bar when a man who asked if they were gay approached them. When Sanchez answered in the affirmative, he ended up paying for his answer. Sanchez had a front tooth knocked out and five others cracked. He is in need of expensive dental work and the community has rallied to his cause with a fundraiser planned for tomorrow night.

A number of elected officials spoke eloquently about how hate has no place here, or anywhere, in fact. The rally was organized by the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Greater Long Beach and Dr. Robert Garcia, an openly gay Councilman in Long Beach.

Newly-elected Congresswoman Janice Hahn said hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism and that an injury to one is an injury to all. Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal said that all of us have a responsibility to call out that kid who’s a bully and nip it in the bud.

I agree. I’ve dealt with bullying as a child, and most recently, as a mother. When my daughter, now 18, was in middle school, she was bullied mercilessly. I’ll never forget her bravery for choosing to dress as she pleased and standing up to those who constantly taunted her, but I was also right there as her biggest advocate. A short time later, she came out as pansexual and yes, that made me proud.

Now, with a 3-year-old with autism, I wonder if more bullying is in store for me.

As for Long Beach, a city of about 500,000, we have the second-largest gay population in the state. The LGBT presence and foothold is strong here, and to the city’s credit, the police department and its Human Dignity Commission take an aggressive stance when it comes to hate crimes. As we’ve seen, however, that’s still not enough to keep all the hate out.

In early June, a lesbian couple with two teenagers became victims of a hate crime in Long Beach, but this incident did not make the news. It happened in the neighborhood of Bixby Knolls, an oasis among some of the grittier areas of North Long Beach. Many LGBT families live here and feel safe.

This couple woke up to the word “FAGS!!’ spray-painted on the sidewalk in front of their home in big letters. The couple called police and it was cleaned up quickly. I won’t pretend to speak for them but I have no doubt the scar from that hateful incident remains.

I didn’t expect to speak at the rally last night, but I ended up doing so. I started off by saying that the violence and hate against the LGBT community must stop – whether it’s happening in the classroom, right outside a gay bar or it’s just been written into the law.

I mentioned how we at the Courage Campaign are working diligently to bring marriage equality to all 50 states. That brought a lot of applause and cheers. Then I motioned to a lesbian couple wearing T-shirts that said “2ND CLASS CITIZEN.”

“They are not second-class citizens,” I said. Someone in the crowd quickly yelled out, “first-class citizens!”

Yes, the two women are first-class citizens who have been relegated to second-class status, through no fault of their own. Rather, it’s due to a powerful, conservative bloc in our country intent on diminishing and denying equal rights to others.

We need to be vigilant about the physical, obvious attacks and the more subtle ones, like the three Republican presidential nominees who signed an anti-gay marriage pledge from the National Organization for Marriage yesterday. If elected as president, they promise to take away our rights and establish a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters.

Really? What about our kids who are dying at their own hands because they are suffering harassment from their classmates, teachers and churches? Do they not matter? What message are these candidates sending out to their followers? That it’s OK to disparage and mistreat the LGBT community because the Bible allegedly tells them so?

They may think they can get away with it because they’ve been getting away with it for so long. The mainstream media, unfortunately, often gives them a pass because in trying to create a balanced story they need the other side. You know, the Christian, moral, superior, straight viewpoint. I know this for a fact. I was a mainstream reporter.

Well, I think we should call their bluff and fight harder. As first-class citizens, we deserve better.

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12 Comments

  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  August 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    thank you Ana for your report and welcome!

  • 2. Ronnie  |  August 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Subscribing & sharing…….

    Anna Paquin (True Blood) says "It Gets Better"………….. <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube 2l2WnpZCcms&list=PLE5718B7AFD6342EE&index=159 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l2WnpZCcms&list=PLE5718B7AFD6342EE&index=159 youtube]

  • 3. Martin Pal  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    This last part of the article — "They may think they can get away with it because they’ve been getting away with it for so long. The mainstream media, unfortunately, often gives them a pass because in trying to create a balanced story they need the other side. You know, the Christian, moral, superior, straight viewpoint. I know this for a fact. I was a mainstream reporter."

    This is what I've been talking about for years. Somehow "news media" has come to think they have to have another "side" when reporting news stories. Notice the author said "create" a balanced story. They DON'T have to. Some things are just stories. There isn't ALWAYS another viewpoint. Lou Sheldon doesn't have to be called every time a gay related issue appears on the news any more than Hitler or Nazis need representing when Jewish issues are told. Stories about gay marriage issues don't HAVE to be countered with NOMbies opinions. The media does this because it creates controversy. Call them out on it when you see it. I do.

  • 4. Alan_Eckert  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

  • 5. Ronnie  |  August 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Video: March for Equality in Holland, Michigan…… <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube bViMLnCla3A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bViMLnCla3A youtube]

  • 6. _BK_  |  August 6, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I thought it meant the Netherlands, and for a minute it was really confusing. Thanks for the video, Ronnie. *hugs*

  • 7. MarcosLB  |  August 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Two of the people arrested in Long Beach anti LGTB hate crimes were from the neighboring conservative Republican towns of Torrance and Palos Verdes. Is there a connection?

    From my experience Long Beach overall is a very tolerant / accepting place for LGTB persons. Whenever the Westboro "church" crowd comes to town, you can count on a counter turnout. Here Wilson High students make me proud as they mock they bunch right out of town:[[youtube kH6M8dLQFjs&feature=player_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH6M8dLQFjs&feature=player_embedded youtube]

  • 8. MarcosLB  |  August 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

    And Long Beach comes out to them downtown.[youtube D9j_KtBZUDM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9j_KtBZUDM youtube]

  • 9. Sarah  |  August 6, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    For some reason that almost made me cry at the end. I love seeing people come together to counter hate, especially o the WBC type.

  • 10. MarcosLB  |  August 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Wow Sarah, I agree, that was awhile ago and I remember being move by the students at the time it was on the local news, but the video froze before I got to the end when posting it. You are right it really is great. Thank you Wilson High students. Love the smile on the cops face when they drive away.

  • 11. JonT  |  August 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Awesome 🙂

  • 12. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  August 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

    […] some posting here and there. If you missed her wonderful inaugural piece a few days ago, it’s here. We’re blessed with a former Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Associated Press […]

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