This past Sunday I marched in the Equality March in Washington, DC. This is how their website describes the event “the ‘Equality March for Unity & Pride’ is a grassroots movement which will mobilize the diverse LGBTQ+ communities to peacefully and clearly address concerns about the current political landscapes and how it is contributing to the persecution and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals.”
Mike and I went on a bus with 32 other people who were marching either for themselves or for a family member. We knew only a few people, but that didn’t matter. Really we are a family.
I wish I knew how many people were there for the march. It. Was. Packed. We stood in the heat of the sun (man was it HOT) with thousands of other people as we waited for the march to start. You know how cars are bumper to bumper in a traffic jam? Well we were shoulder to shoulder. It was difficult to move at times. We had to wait for quite some time before the march started. Someone would periodically blow a whistle and the crowd would roar with cheers. We were ready. In the crowd, I saw anger, hurt, resolve, determination. Tears flowed as the crowd united for the task at hand.
There were lots of messages displayed on shirts that people were wearing and signs that people were carrying. Many of these signs portrayed people’s frustration with the president. Some signs depicted reasons why that person was marching…either an actual person like their child, or a policy that they felt needed to change. People marched for themselves, they marched for family members or friends, they marched for those who couldn’t march for themselves like the 49 victims of the Pulse shootings.
I had a sign, but I took a different approach. I knew that there would be many people there at the march that didn’t have support from family. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of two private Facebook groups of moms of LGBTQ children. When we go to events like this, we like to take buttons and/or signs that say “Free Mom Hugs” so that we can show support to those who don’t have it. This was my sign (which my artist daughter McKensie was very sweet to make for me).
Did I mention how hot it was on Sunday? There were lots of sweaty hugs given and received (smile). You can tell a lot from a hug. There are the “what a great idea hug – I want a hug” hugs. There are the friendly “thank you for your support” hugs. Then there are the hugs that linger. The person holds you tightly. You can feel the emotion in it. Even though it may be brief, you can feel that the person NEEDED that hug. It’s a chance to tell that person through touch that they matter, that they are important, that they are seen, and most importantly they are loved. I gave hugs while walking to the march starting point. I gave hugs while waiting to start. I gave hugs afterwards at the festival…and even a hug at the train station where we were meeting our bus.
So why did I march? I marched for my son. I marched for my LGBTQ friends. I marched because I think things need to change. There is too much discrimination and violence towards this community. I did it in a respectful way. I was a presence so that this community knows that someone cares. The following is an Instagram post by one of the young teens that were with us that day. This…this is why I was there…
“I just want to say today was one of the most impactful , beautiful and moving days of my life. I was surrounded by strangers who felt like family. I met some of the kindest, strongest people ever. Thank you to everyone who made this possible because I am more than grateful to you and I am so so blessed to have been able to come out here and have this experience today. Much love to everyone that shared this experience with me, you made it possible. Everyone who was there was part of my day. I was so proud of who I was instead of being ashamed or afraid. It was a liberating, once in a lifetime moment. I seriously recommend attending a march or pride event in your area if you can and are LGBT or a straight ally. One of the most powerful days of my life.”
These gatherings are so important because it is the one place that this community can truly, totally, be themselves. The teen that wrote that has great family support and it was still so important and impactful to her. There are some kids that can’t even be themselves in their own homes. That’s why I marched. That’s why I was present. That’s why I shared sweaty hugs that spoke of love without words.
Because love matters.