Monday, October 12, 2009

Why the March worked

Phil Reese over at the Bilerico Project has written a great piece on why yesterday's March on Washington worked:

The March worked because Cleve Jones, David Mixner, Robin McGehee, Kip Williams and the march organizers called it: We needed this. People turned out because of a deep, guttural, urgent need to stand up and be counted. They could both simultaneously express their deep frustration and deep hope and optimism. It was about more than just feeling better, though. It was about sparking a big reaction. Most of the speakers repeated the mantra: "This march is a beginning, not an end." If this comes true, then when we look back we can say the march was definitely a success. However, today at least I can without hesitation say the March worked.

The March worked for six reasons. The March created positive attention for our LGBT rights, it inspired the budding activists in the movement, it groomed our movement's future leadership, it provided a great summit for new strategy creation and infrastructure building in the movement, it put positive pressure on the government and it pointed a big red arrow at Washington, Maine, and Kalamazoo....

Talking about seeing Cleve Jones debate some march detractors on the news Saturday night, my dad called to tell me how he felt about all of this and expressed his agreement with those who were calling on the movement to wait. Ten years ago, my father was an avid opponent of LGBT rights, but today he's accepted the need for equality as a given - and merely disagrees with the tone of people like Cleve.

My dad's words now expressed a clear cognitive dissonance to me. Cognitive dissonance occurs when we are confronted with clear, immutable facts that are in clear opposition with our skewed world view. Cognitive dissonance occurs in the moments before we accept a new reality. My blue-collar Midwestern Reagan-Republican father is the posterboy of Middle America for me. If my father is experiencing dissonance, America is experiencing dissonance. The lightbulb is about to flip on.

Seeing my former Senator, Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, debating Senator Bob Casey on CNN the morning of the march, not about whether or not to extend equality but when, shows the conversation is happening and we're finally discussing the right things. America watched Lady Gaga, Cynthia Nixon, David Mixner and Julian Bond tell them not only is supporting equality the right thing to do, but an urgent need. This will influence the thoughts of more folk than I think we realize.

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