Editor's Note: Leah McElrath Renna is a Managing Partner with the communications-consulting firm Renna Communications and a professional psychotherapist with a Master of Social Work degree from the Smith College School for Social Work.
She has authored and contributed to the production of materials published both under her own name and for attribution to others in the New York Times Magazine, USA Today, the New York Daily News, AM New York, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Advocate.com, Gay.com, Time.com and other media outlets.
I was wrong. I doubted. I didn't think it would, but the National Equality March rocked.
I underestimated the ability of social-networking to motivate people to travel all the way to our nation's capital from across the country. I worried about the messaging that would result from such an amorphous organizing system. In particular, I was greatly concerned that the people that did show up would be of the demographic that generally constitutes the majority of the crowds at marches on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community - namely white gay men. Not that there's anything wrong with being a white gay man... But the vision of a potential crowd of white gay men protesting against the first black president who also happens to be the president most supportive of LGBT civil rights in history haunted me.
Wow. My concerns, while theoretically valid, could not have been more misplaced.
The reality of today's National Equality March was a remarkably diverse gathering of LGBT people and our allies many tens of thousands strong. I have been to many marches over the past two decades, and, in my estimation, this march's participants were the most reflective of the people who actually make up our community.
Yes, there were white gay men. But there was also an equivalent contingent of white lesbian women. There were many self-identified bisexuals. There were black LGBT people and Latino LGBT people. Numerous communities of faith with large and vocal groups of marchers. Former and current military service members. Self-proclaimed socialists. A sprinkling of the leather community. A few fabulous drag queens. Young people. Old people. Singles and couples. Countless LGBT parents with babes in arms or young ones in strollers. A major showing of straight allies, young adults and college students. The list could go on.
Below are some snapshots from the March. The number of homemade signs was remarkable - and just a few are captured here (unless otherwise noted, all of these appeared homemade):
Two young women wearing their shirts from the Obama presidential campaign - but revised with pinned on signs to complete the sentence "Obama - Do the Right Thing"
Sign: "Justice is what love looks like in public. (Dr. Cornell West)"
Chant: "Hey, Obama! Let Mommy Marry Mama!"
Sign: "Separate but Equal? Been There Done That."
Sign: "Defend Equality - Love Unites"
Chant: "Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! My God Loves Me, This I Know!"
Signs - thousands of these - held by people of all genders, ages, and races: "End the Harm from Religion-Based Bigotry and Prejudice. Faith in America."
Sign: "God Loves Gays"
Sign: "Homophobia is a Sin"
Signs (several of these, but all appeared homemade): "Jesus Had Two Dads and He Turned Out Fine"
A young adult woman carrying sign: "Proud to Have Two Moms"
A young, beefy blond guy with a large purple sign: "Lesbian Rights NOW"
Sign held by a young man: "Straight Guy for Equal Rights"
Signs (hundreds of these): "Standing on the Side of Love"
Sign: "Committed to Marriage - Mine and Yours"
Chant: "Tell me What Democracy Looks Like?! This is What Democracy Looks Like!"
Sign: "Let the Gays be as Miserable as the Straights - Marriage Equality NOW"
Sign held by a young woman in a tie-dyed shirt: "Silly me. I thought this was a Free Country."
Sign: "Hate is Not a Family Value"
Sign: "I Pay Equal Taxes - I Want Equal Rights"
Sign: "Marriage Rights are Civil Rights"
A young man of color holding a sign: "Love One Another for Love is of God. 1 John 4:7"
Sign: "Let's Have a Summit, Mr. President. I'll Bring the Beer."
Sign: "Fear Us Not"
Two gay elders holding the following signs: (on the fronts of the signs) "I'm 82, Gay and Still Waiting for My = Rights in My Lifetime? (Better Hurry!!)" and "Good Citizens. Paid Taxes. Raised Two Daughters. Where are Our Equal Rights?" and (on the backs of the signs) "38 Years Together. Too Long a Courtship! Ready for the Right to Marry!" and "Beaten by Cops in 1965 [for being gay]. Still Waiting for Equal Rights."
It was a beautiful day - and a day that made one proud to be an LGBT American.
Sometimes I love being wrong.
(Crossposted from Huffington Post.)