Went to a Gay Marriage rally today. As the name would suggest, it was a rally. There were speakers with microphones. The ones I heard ranged from good to brilliant (the first post-organiser speaker was “Mr Chuckles” – funny, smart, passionate.) Everyone sat and listened to their wisdom. At one point between sets of speeches the organiser led everyone in a dreadful chant (one two three four… etc)
So, all of us to speak one voice, to speak one sentence as chosen by the organisers. It was embarrassing and infuriating and my cue to leave. It didn’t have to be like that.
There was nothing malicious in what the organisers had done. This is Just the Way We Do Things.
Here’s what I would have said, if invited to do so. What do folks think?
Thank you so much for coming here today. The most important thing about you being here is what you have done before coming here today, and what you do AFTER. This moment, though beautiful, is only an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to show our strength and build on it by creating links among you who don’t already know each other.
To the people here who are straight, I ask – are you going to challenge homophobia when you hear it at work, at home, in your church or mosque. If you do already, great –I hope you do it more, and get more effective. If you don’t, why not? It’s time to do so. Is it because you are afraid of being labelled queer? Is it because you’re afraid of having to confront bigotry in those people who pay your bills, or who you love and don’t want to think of as bigots?
To those of you who are closeted, is it possible to come out? It is difficult, it can be dangerous. It’s not my place to say that you “must”. But many have done so, and it’s made them stronger, and it’s made them great role models for other closeted people. If you need advice or someone to talk to, then go to the stall.
To those who are out and proud, congratulations – it’s not easy. What have you learnt that you want to pass on? Why does marriage matter to YOU? How can YOU become a more effective advocate for gay marriage?
Because although it’s good that we are here, this rally on its own won’t do the job.
This movement is about the pressure you put on politicians – via emails, letters to them, letters to the paper, talk-radio, those conversations you have with acquaintances.
This movement is about the defense of gay rights that YOU make in arenas less welcoming than this one – in school, at work, at church.
This movement is about living as an example of tolerance, strength, compassion and wisdom.
Those steps won’t happen because the leaders of this movement are especially wise and wonderful (though they might be!)
Those moves won’t become more frequent and irresistible by listening to speeches, no matter how funny or astute they are.
And those pressures won’t be sustained indefinitely all on your own. You’ll get tired, down-hearted. We need to support each other, to challenge each other, to teach each other and to encourage each other.
We can give each other heart, we can learn and teach from others’ mis-steps and our own. There is someone within five metres of you who has something to teach you. There is someone within five metres of you who has something to learn from you. That’s the power of this moment in our movement.
And so the way we build the future we want, and the movement to get us there, here, now, in the next five minutes, is that YOU talk to someone you don’t know. Talk to them about why you’re here, what you’re doing, what you want to do. And if you need a question to get you going , try this- “what can we do in the next week to advance the cause of gay marriage?” Thank you.
See also: “From Cannon Fodder to Ego Fodder“