So I went to yesterday's rally in Salt Lake. It was looking pretty sparse around 6:20 pm, when I arrived, but by the time it actually began, around 6:35 or so, there was a decent-sized crowd, only a small handful of whom I knew or recognized. I may be fairly familiar with gay mormon circles, but I've barely scratched the surface of the Utah gay community as a whole. So many homos here...
I saw some angry-looking, outraged faces, but I saw more smiling, hopeful faces. The overall tone was low-key and persistent but not militant. I enjoyed the signs of all sorts, some clever, some eye-rolling. People of many ages, ethnicities, and orientations joined in, many of them family and friends ("straight allies"). The rally began with the national anthem. The speeches consisted of personal stories, religious perspective, and pleas for tolerance and legal rights. Most were even-tempered and low-key, somewhat passionate but respectful in tone. A speaker or two sounded on the verge of emotionally losing control, but they reined it in.
I did have one main beef: I am always particularly bothered by whiny-toned speakers who proclaim that society is denying them the love they desire and refusing to allow them to be in committed relationships. I call bullcrap. That's a cheap emotional appeal, and I wish people would stop trying to use it. You can love whomever you damned well please, and you can have a committed relationship with or without a piece of paper or financial rights or religious recognition. Fortunately, most speakers steered clear of such specious rhetoric and a couple of them even declared that the gay community needed to not just be victims but to live what they believed and fight for their rights. One guy even clarified his use of "fight" to mean "educate", which I appreciated. The rally even included some unintended comedy, such as the sheepish bride getting pictures taken up on the capitol steps or the sprinklers turning on onto the crowd, with someone shouting as they huddled tighter to avoid the spray, "You can't stop us that easily, Chris Buttars!"
Only the last speaker was at all loud or a bit militant. Boy did he rile the audience up for the march down State street. He asked if there were any returned missionaries in the audience. Of course, many hands went up, along with a loud cheer. He called the audience on a new mission to change the world, to gain civil rights for all people...and the audience responded with uproarious applause. It was at once a touch offensive, somewhat stirring, and mildly absurd. But that's often how rallies go, in my experience, no matter what they're for.
I'm glad I went. Even though I don't fully align with the "activist agenda", and especially not with many of the tactics or arguments, I do support full equality for civil rights, and I am intrigued and fascinated by this political struggle and interested to see how it pans out in the long run. What will it look like 15 years from now when we look back? Overall, it was good to be there and not just hear about it in the news...wait...did it even make the news? Or was that obnoxious KSL helicopter circling around for some other reason?
For those who are interested or who want a small taste of what it was like to be there, I took (lots of) pictures of the rally, and I even recorded the first part of it on audio.
P.S. -- D-Train, somehow I came away from the rally still single. Go fig. ;-)