Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chicago seeks repeal of DOMA through citywide protest

On Saturday, January 10, despite a winter storm barreling down on the city and dumping up to a foot of snow in areas, several hundred LGBT community members and supporters joined forces to send a message to President-elect Barack Obama.

Join the Impact - a grassroots organization formed after the November election, has been instrumental in generating interest amongst the LGBT community for the need to raise our voices and show the country that we are not second class citizens.

I have never been an "activist" or considered myself someone that has had to stand up and make my voice heard, but the situation over the last year has made me - and a lot of my friends - change our minds and decide its time for us all to stand up.

I've been going to all of the rallys, at first to cover them, but lately so to cover them but to also participate. To make my voice heard as well, to do what I can do to help spread the news about what we need to do as a group to make sure that our rights are not taken away from us. Every new rally I go, I see more new faces and yesterday I was so surprised when I heard my name being shouted out across a group of people.

It was my friend Kahtan, a friend who is not a natural born citizen but has taken the time and the effort to become a US Citizen. Because of a combination of things, my updating my Facebook Status, and his viewing of "Milk", he felt compelled to grab his winter clothes and head out into a winter day in the middle of January - in the middle of Chicago to raise his voice.

It was amazing to walk down the city streets with so many of my queer brothers, sisters and supporters and show that we are not second class citizens....that we deserve the same rights that they take for granted.

How many of you take your rights for granted - regardless of where you live, do you truly take full advantage to all of the rights that you have? Probably not, because you don't know they're there or you don't think about it, or more importantly, you probably take them for granted, because they've always been there. But it hasn't been been that long since the rights that we take for granted today were not available to us as queer citizens.

It wasn't that long ago that we couldn't be "out" at work, for fear of losing our jobs. We couldn't go to bars, because it was illegal for gays to congregate, we couldn't hold hands in public with those we loved - all things that we do now - and take for granted.

I was talking to another friend of mine, who told me how he feels the need to be an activist now after he saw "Milk" he told me that he couldn't imagine having to be "in the closet" at work and to be honest I couldn't imagine it either. I've been out at work for so long that I couldn't imagine having to go back into the closet....but that's a "right" that I take for granted. He told me that after seeing "Milk" he had seriously taken for granted the rights that we just accept as always being there.

The passage of Prop 8, and the release of "Milk" I think, has created a new round of activists, I love going to the rallys and the protests and seeing so many diverse people. Young, old, middle-aged, women, men, straight people, transpeople and everyone in between, so many different people that have one thing in common - they're gay or have a friend/family member that is gay.

It's time to realize that the rights that we have were not always there for us. It's time for us to stand up for our rights as citizens and individuals and let the country, and the world, know that we are not "second class citizens" and we deserve the same rights that they currently have and more than like take for granted.

Think about that the next time your boyfriend drops you off at work and you give him a quick kiss goodbye.

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