Bil Browning

Indianapolis joins National Day of Protest

Filed By Bil Browning | November 16, 2008 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: gay marriage, gay rights, Indianapolis, marriage equality, National Day of Protest, same-sex marriage

Yesterday about 250 people stood outside the Indianapolis City-County Building in a cold rain and sleet as part of the grassroots National Day of Protest. While that may not seem like a lot of people compared to the posts about massive protests with thousands of people, I'd like to share specific reasons why Indy's rally was one of the best.

Jerame had to go to a funeral, so he dropped me off at the protest on his way out of town. I brought along the camcorder for the blog and the bullhorn for the protest. As a veteran of several protests, I know you always come prepared. But even I was unprepared for what happened.

Story and video after the jump.


Jerame and I have been deeply involved in planning most of the last few gay rights protests in Indiana with a small cadre of other Indianapolis activists. We're a small handful or two, but we're determined. This time, the event was thrust upon the nation and none of us really had the time to step up and help organize the event.

Instead, word spread amongst facebook friends, on the blogs, and over e-mail. Aaron Brown from Muncie stepped in shortly before the big day as the event organizer. The statewide equality organization didn't promote the event and there was no pre-event publicity from the mainstream media.

It was miserably cold; my hands were numb in minutes. It was raining and sleeting; there wasn't an overhang or anything to gather under for cover. The wind blew constantly. There were no TV cameras or big flashy press corps. No radio stations thrust microphones under someone's face and begged them to say something. There was nothing across from the protest but an empty parking lot and the cars whizzing by on the wet street.

And still they came. They came without leadership. They came in weather only a duck would love. They came without an audience or a celebrity or a specific agenda. They came.

I quickly handed off the bullhorn to Projector Zac Adamson and he organized an impromptu reading of famous civil rights quotes. Random people from the rally would step forward, grab the bullhorn and read a short clip. When we ran out of quotes, people started sharing why they came to the rally and what they saw for the future. There were no scheduled speakers. There was no public address system or stage set up.

It was Hoosiers speaking their piece and listening to others do the same. The right wing fundies are automatically trying to paint our community with the broad brush of violence and the downfall of civilization, and yet this small crowd of angry Hoosiers spoke and listened - unlike the religious zealot who walked back and forth on the same side of the street waving his Bible and shouting abominations and conditions for a loving God.

Of course, one block down was a small collection of motley fundies with a "NO TO SODOMY" sign and one lone woman who drug her three small children out in the cold so she could stand on a separate street corner and hurl insults at passersby.

But what made the event special was the diversity of the people gathered. The racial intolerance meme circulated in some circles was definitely shot to bits. While the gathering was still dominated by white faces, I also saw Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos. I saw trans folk. I saw high school students and elders. From Abercrombie to Redneck, from lipstick lesbian to diesel dyke, gay to gay-friendly, the crowd wasn't just a bunch of white gay guys standing around demanding minority status. It was a community.

I tried to focus on that in the video I made of the protest - including one young guy who hung out in the back and told his story in Spanish. Because this white guy didn't need to "lead" or "organize" anything. New leadership is emerging and it's starting to look more like the true face of our diverse community. All I had to do was bring the bullhorn.

iPhone users: Click to watch

(South Bend's organizer, Mandy Studdard, has guest posted her speech at Bilerico-Indiana.)

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A friendly correction: I saw a quickie mention of the upcoming demonstration on the Morning News on WISH-TV. Afterwards both WISH-TV and WTHR-TV carried brief but good stories about the Rally. Interestingly, this large local event seemed to escape Indpls Star coverage completely...

We made our point in Indianapolis and happily joined the hundreds of similar demonstrations across the country!

My first link in the post is to the Indy Star story, Wilson. I'm glad you saw the mentions on ABC and CBS. I missed those entirely.

I also added a picture from your Flickr photostream to the post.

I'm glad to be corrected about the Star -- somehow I missed it this morning. It seems it's now the 5th most viewed Star story online with 133 comments.

For a very ad hoc demonstration, we got fairly good MSM coverage, all-in-all I'd say!


ME SAY THIS IN SPANISH, I am here for that i feel, the need to support and that we support, that we have rights and freedoms and what we seek is to be recognized as all, that we look at good eyes, that we are broad - based we want to see that we are here, as well as pay tax like all i believe that we deserve the same respect that they all have.

You did a great job, Daniel. I loved it that you told your story in Spanish. Thanks for the translation!

For anyone who's had any doubt at all that change is coming (I know Bil's had his doubts, at least right after Prop 8), the diversity of protesters at City-County was proof that it is. You don't get a wide cross-section of the community, however small, coming out in favor of something that has only marginal minority support. The fight for gay rights is finally taking on the feel of a civil rights struggle, which is important; it's always _been_ that, but not always _perceived_ as such.

I'm sorry I was late, but I made it! I had a great time meeting fellow protesters. The weather took its toll on attendance late in the day, but cars continued to honk support. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

I was there too Saturday at the protest. I had the feeling you Bil were there. I held a sign that is in the broad angle photo near the tree with brown leaves on it. I know it is important for everyone even our representation visibly to let folks know that it is not just California but everyone of us in America that civil rights are for everyone. Thanks for bringing the bull horn! I think I saw Marty Abernathy down there too.