Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Equality March - A PFLAGer's Story

Annette Gross, PFLAG Indianapolis

Today's guest post comes to us from Annette Gross [pictured, above] of PFLAG Indianapolis.

On October 11, 2009, I had the opportunity to attend the March for Equality in Washington, D.C. When I first heard about the March, I knew I had to be a part of this historical coming-together of GLBT people and straight allies.

The night before the March, I attended the National PFLAG Board Meeting. After the meeting was over, we adjourned to a bar in the hotel to watch President Obama speak at the HRC Dinner. Much to our surprise, President Obama spoke about the formation of PFLAG. Along with Jody Huckaby, PFLAG Executive Director, we huddled around the TV and cheered as the president spoke about the good work of our organization.

Sunday proved to be a lovely, sunny day, perfect for marching. Along with Janet Fox from Silver Spring, Maryland and Judi Egbert from Muncie, Indiana, we took the train to D.C. While on the train, we saw other people riding to the March. There was a party atmosphere on the train and I felt that I was part of something historic.

We didn’t know how many people would attend. As we ascended up to street level, we saw thousands of people waiting to march. We had to look for the “purple balloons” – this is where we would meet our fellow PFLAG parents. I met parents from D.C. as well as from New York and Boston. Despite having to wait an hour until the March began, we chatted with these PFLAGers and took photos.

Eventually, we began to walk. I had never been in such a large gathering before. Everyone was in such a good mood and as I walked, I felt grateful to be able to show my support for my gay son and my GLBT friends. As we walked along, our route took us to the front of the White House. This was a wonderful photo opportunity. I was hoping that President Obama might be watching us. I wanted him to see the large outpouring of love and support for the GLBT community as we walked by.

Finally we reached the Capitol. My feet were aching and I just wanted to sit down. I joined other marchers who sat on the grass and on ledges. We could hear the speakers through loudspeakers. Right after we arrived at the Capitol, Judy Shepherd spoke. The first thing she did was ask the crowd to smile as she took a photo. Judy’s message was that we all have to participate and tell our stories. We need to educate ourselves and vote.

As I looked around me and saw thousands of people who came to D.C. to be part of this gathering, I was aware that despite the party atmosphere, there was a serious side to the March. I realized that when we go back home, we have to work even harder to educate our friends, families, co-workers and neighbors. We have to speak to our legislators and urge them to vote for the repeal of DOMA and DADT. We have to urge them to vote for ENDA.

There is a lot of work to do. The March was a catalyst that hopefully will energize us all. I hope that the momentum keeps going. I feel so grateful that I could be a part of this huge gathering. I feel grateful that I could march with other PFLAG parents who want equal rights for our children. Our task is not easy, but it is extremely important. I think we’re all up for it. As Lt. Dan Choi said in his speech, “Asking is over – we will tell. Silence is not a strategy. My plan for today and my plan tomorrow and my plan forever is to tell, is to tell, and we will tell, we will tell, we will tell.”

-Annette Gross, PFLAG Indianapolis

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