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Taking to the Streets with Pride to Protest Prop. 8

Taking to the Streets with Pride to Protest Prop. 8

Cathy DeBuono takes to the streets to protest Prop. 8 passing in California. She writes: 'More than any gay pride festival I have ever attended, THIS was GAY PRIDE.... And something had become crystal clear to us all by this point. We were done being 'tolerated' and we will not tolerate ignorance any more.'

Dear… Everyone,

Two nights ago we gathered in West Hollywood Park to rally in protest against Proposition 8. From there we took over the streets. We began to march east on Santa Monica Blvd. I hadn’t really thought it through but I had expected we’d walk east like this, chant about equal rights until we reached say… La Cienega Blvd., just a few blocks down, then along the way the crowd would disperse, it would die down and we’d all go home content that we had showed up to represent.

But something amazing happened instead. Something truly special… as in unstoppable. We were not satisfied. We just kept going.

As a whole, we made a turn north up Westbourne Ave., and word trickled among us that we were headed toward Sunset Blvd. We marched out of our gay zone in West Hollywood and up to the Sunset strip where we turned east into the more hetero lands of Hollywood proper. There were no thoughts of stopping. We just could not stop walking.

So we didn't stop. The police escorts kept multiplying and the news helicopters followed. We raised the signs we carried, cried out for drivers to honk and for pedestrians to join us. By the time we reached Fairfax Ave., about a mile from our stepping off point, I turned to look behind me and saw a broad and solid river of us that stretched back further than I could see and occupied the entire east bound side of Sunset Blvd. It was beautiful.

The spirit of the fight for our rights running strong through our collective veins we then marched all the way down to Cahuenga Blvd. several miles away. We surrounded the CNN building. I don't know how we decided to go there but the word spread and we all just stuck together.

We were, in my experience, unprecedentedly connected to one another and our common goal. In the face of emotions running high, I saw total strangers helping each other to stay focused, to stay lawful and to stay together.

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After making our presence known at CNN, we turned and headed west on Sunset Blvd. Four hours had passed since we first gathered -- miles away from where we now stood. Blisters were fully born, hips sockets were aching, shoes were being traded in the effort to just keep going, and wondering how we were going to get home from there was less on our minds than making sure we made to our next stop.

We took the movement up to Hollywood and Highland, the heart of Hollywood. Our group, while enormous, was half the size it was when we first started marching, but no less enthusiastic.

By then, police officers in riot gear had already formed a boundary for us at the top of the intersection. We were not allowed to cross Hollywood Blvd. So we planted ourselves at this intersection and chanted.

I was standing on my tippy toes trying to see what was ahead when my friend tapped me on the shoulder and said "dude, look…" I turned around to see, coming up over the horizon a pack, an army, a HUGE group of us who were catching up... the cavalry was coming and I began jumping up and down like a little kid, I couldn't help myself. All of us already at the top of that hill started jumping and cheering our brothers and sisters on and as they got closer and closer and they cheered back and picked up speed until we all merged and our unified spirit simply expanded.

More than any gay pride festival I have ever attended, THIS was GAY PRIDE.... And something had become crystal clear to us all now. We were done being "tolerated" and we were done being tolerant of ignorance.

Yes, we are done. We are here. And we are not going anywhere. We are through being judged, we are through being quiet, we are through catering to the hetero comfort zone.... And we will not stop till we have all of our equal rights.

Thursday, I joined the rally that started outside the Mormon Church on Santa Monica Blvd. at Overland in West Los Angeles. We walked around the church, north on Westwood Blvd. to Wilshire Blvd. where we took ownership of the entire intersection. We had a sit down at rush hour… beautiful.

From there we occupied the entire east bound side of Wilshire, marched back to Santa Monica Blvd. and then headed west again to where we started at the Mormon Church. Once again, hours had passed, miles had been covered and when we arrived at our starting point... there stood an entire new shift of us, gathered and ready to press on.

So here I am now. I've had dinner, a hot bath, took some ibuprofen and have settled down to write. I hear a group of us moving thru my neighborhood… right now. The migration is still going on… so this is what "bursting with pride" feels like. Well, I highly recommend it to anyone, you really should try it. In fact... I dare you.

I have to say, I was never a political activist, nor ever intended to be. Politics and practicality have never been my strong suit. I spend most of my time seeing the world through my soul's lens. I'm aligned with the belief that love always prevails and that tolerating the ignorance of others with compassion and patience is how we heal the world but you know something, my patience just ran out.

I realize that I have been content to be tolerated. Yes, to a lesser degree than some and to a greater degree than others. Secure within myself and feeling no need for approval from other communities, I have been satisfied with their practice of tolerance. Tolerance meant you'd just let me be and that your beliefs about who I am could just be yours and I honestly didn't care.

I am no longer satisfied with being tolerated. While we've been compassionate with their ignorance and patient with their evolution, fear has been allowed to keep the strong hold.

Their fear of the unknown feeds their ignorance and starves our progress toward equality. The answer to our movement for our civil rights lays deeper than gathering advertising dollars. It goes beyond the job of the politicians and the activists and rests in the responsibility of us all. Beyond the rallies, beyond the petitions, beyond storming the castle… we must all work to heal the issue at the core. 

The time is now, that we must never tolerate fear or ignorance in our personal and professional lives, not anymore, not ever. We must never agree to be vague about who we love to protect someone else from feeling awkward. So what if they do… facing difficult feelings allows one to grow and we must take responsibility for encouraging that to happen, and not enabling fear and ignorance to thrive.

No more waiting, no more hoping, no more tolerating. Thank you for tolerating us but are no longer willing to tolerate you and your sense of entitled righteousness.

What do we want? Equal rights. When do we want them? Now. Join us tomorrow, Saturday November 8th in Silver Lake at Sunset Junction, 6pm.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Cathy Debuono