Monday, June 01, 2009

Activist born

Some of the best teachers in life are friends…those people you spend so much casual time with day to day and end up absorbing parts of their lives through your daily conversations. Sometimes these lessons are new knowledge that enlighten you and broaden your world view…other times these lessons are more like keys that unlock inspiration and power within you…bringing out qualities that were there all along but needed stirring to awaken them.

Last week there was a rally for marriage equality and my friend Evan invited me to come and participate. I had never been a part of a rally before and felt like it was time for me to make an effort and show the world that I believe in extending marriage rights to all couples—gay and straight. While highly controversial in political circles, this issue boils down to a simple matter of civil rights and giving same sex couples the same rights as everyone else.

I arrived at the Christopher Street meeting point and saw a mass of people carrying homemade signs and umbrellas. I had an umbrella, but I suddenly felt empty handed without an expressive sign.

This was quickly amended when I found Evan and he thrust a couple clipboards into my hands and told me to follow and watch him. The clipboards held a petition that was going to be sent to NY senators urging them to sign a marriage equality bill currently being reviewed. My task was to circulate amongst the crowd and gather signatures for the petition. While simple to do, this added step of engaging with others and urging them to sign an important petition upgraded me from “rally participant” to “gay rights activist”.

I watched Evan for a few moments, and then dived off on my own. My nervousness suddenly vanished in a surge of empowerment and I began speaking to everyone I could in the crowd. The clipboards were easily passed from person to person and I maneuvered past rainbow flags to keep up with them. I found my job satisfying and also a great way to talk to cute boys.

The rally started, cheers and chants were taught, and we began to march through the streets of NYC as a mass of civil liberty proponents. People on the sidewalks and in windows along the street stopped to take photos, cheer, and wave pink boas in support.

The march ended in Union Square where speeches were given and I continued to gather signatures. After it was all over and the crowd began to filter away into the subway and streets, I felt a new sense of security about my identity and a new urgency to fight for my rights. My rally participation was about me expressing to myself that I believe in marriage equality and giving me the opportunity as an American to work towards a better more just future. I had these feelings in me all along, but it took the encouragement of a friend to get me motivated and moving.

New York is evolving me as an individual and giving me the space to become a better person. I’ve already grown so much…and foresee a continuing unfolding of good things to come.


Angelo said...

Wow,Justin! Really cool (in many ways)!

Joel said...

Good on you Justin!

Katie Dulin said...

I heart New York for this very reason. And I heart YOU!

Sarah said...

Missed you at the Astoria rally!

leesean said...

Snaps for Justin!

Irish By Marriage said...

go Justin!