Stonewall Protesters Fight Passivity in the Wake of New Anti-LGBT Administration
On February 4th at the Stonewall Inn, LGBT activists protested President Donald Trump and his administration.
This was an LGBT Solidarity Rally, organized by New York City council member Corey Johnson. Thousands of LGBT protesters and allies shared their support for refugees, immigrants, and other minority groups who feel threatened by the new government.
Protesters sported pink pussy hats and rainbow beanies, carried signs that promoted resistance as well as unity, and marched down the street chanting phrases like “The people united will never be divided.” There were people of all ages and races, with many families and small children shuffling through the crowds as well.
The speakers ranged from celebrities, such as Cynthia Nixon, to politicians like Chuck Schumer.
Eager protesters chanted “Dump Trump” (initiated by Schumer). With mixed reception from the crowd, Schumer said “You guys have my back, and I’ll have yours.” A member of the crowd shouted back “You better!” which was met with a large applause.
Although Trump stated “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology” after the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, his staff members have supported what many consider anti-LGBTQ policies. Protesters are concerned that cabinet members will push policies that create disadvantages for members of the LGBTQ community. Vice president Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing business owners to refuse service for gay customers and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has donated millions of dollars to Anti-LGBTQ organizations such as Family First and the Family Research Center.
Amanda Fletcher, an NYC Public School teacher who is also a member of the LGBT community, said that there is a sense of total disbelief in what’s going on. She said that people are angry not only with Trump, but the democratic politicians who aren’t making a strong enough effort to counter him. “The day after Trump was elected, I saw teachers and students crying. We had to hold meetings and figure out how to come together.”
Social media proves to be a key platform for groups to organize and strategize against the new administration. Voice-actor and musician Geoff Moonen explained that there are a lot of online communities that are intricately coordinated. Moonen said “Google drive is really big. People are sharing links to spreadsheets that show all of the senators who have voted for or against LGBTQ rights with their numbers.” He explained how individuals can call and share their concerns with senators who don’t show any support towards minority groups “but also offer support and positive reinforcement to senators who are helping the cause, because that’s just as important.”
A noticeable nuance amongst the protesters was their frustration with indifference. “Anyone keeping silent isn’t passive anymore at this point” said Fletcher.
The protesters continued to march, chant, and cheer for their cause hour after hour without losing any vigor or determination. Brad Holyman, the only LGBT member of the NY senate, explained with a grin ““Don’t think you’re not doing much…(Donald) sees the sea of people and it drives him crazy.”