On June 23, 2012, history was made in Louisiana! For the first time ever, over 300 members of the LGBTQ community and their allies stood firm and marched to the State Capitol steps in Baton Rouge. That day was a landmark moment for Louisiana – a display of the support, love and unity that has blossomed within the Pelican State.
As I look back on the days leading up to that momentous occasion, I remember the doubt that flooded my mind. Would people feel comfortable marching in the capitol city? Would we be faced with opposition, and if so, to what extent? Would the attendees be safe and protected by the city’s law enforcement?
However, as I recall the events of the day, I can’t help but smile and be humbled by the scenes that I witnessed: the massive church group with their matching t-shirts and rainbow flags waiving in the air; dozens of business representatives and employees proudly displaying their logos in support of a better community; the multiple media outlets ready to report on and capture the historic event; the chants, shouting and laughter of family and friends that filled the streets; the powerful and eloquent speeches of the fearless leaders that spoke at the rally on the Capitol steps. I remember trying to hold back the tears that kept forming in my eyes, and the only thing I can hope for, is for that tear to return over and over again as the years pass.
The goals of the Equality March are simple:
1. To draw attention to the inequalities experienced by LGBTQ people in Louisiana with regard to employment, housing, relationship recognition, and other discrimination, and to the verbal, physical, and sexual harassment and assault perpetrated against this population;
2. To make visible an invisible population, one that is often overlooked and disadvantaged in Louisiana legislation; and
3. To raise awareness among Louisiana residents, both within the LGBTQ community and outside, of the many organizations and businesses around the state that are working to support and advance equality for Louisiana’s LGBTQ citizens.
These goals, while at first may seem quite simple to most, are a feat in and of themselves that may take years, or even decades to accomplish. Typically in the South, the LGBTQ community and its wellbeing are not at the forefront of legislators’ minds. On a much more frequent occasion than one might want to believe, LGBTQ people in Louisiana are overlooked or blatantly discriminated against. However, the purpose of this event is intended to serve as a display of solidarity and empowerment within the LGBTQ community and with our allies.
This year’s march will be held on June 15, 2013. I am both anxious and excited to see what this year’s Equality March has in store for the Louisiana LGBTQ community and our allies. I look forward to the possibility of doubling the success of last year. Success comes from unity, and I truly hope that everyone will consider contributing to this event however they can.
by Kayla Mulford
Programs & Activities Committee Chair