Marches need to be more inclusive
Ashleigh Atwell is a queer lesbian writer and organizer born and raised in Atlanta, GA.
“We have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Google is free, y’all. If you try, you can learn how to make your movement work and actions inclusive to everyone.”
The day after Donald Trump was inaugurated, I was on the train leaving work. The car was uncharacteristically packed because the Atlanta leg of the women’s march was starting. I was sitting silently wondering if I should keep going to Decatur or get off and join the action. I went to Decatur. When I first heard about the march back in November, I was cautiously hopeful. I thought it’d be nice to see people come together for such a huge endeavor. Perhaps it’d bring the unity this country so desperately needs to fight the Cheeto in Chief. Still, I’ve been in white feminist organizing spaces and unless they’re called out, they don’t worry about issues that don’t affect them.
As weeks passed, the organizers of the women’s march were criticized for their lack of people of color in leadership. Writers produced countless think piece and experienced organizers started asking a lot of hard questions. They responded by naming a group of women of color organizers as their co-chairs. Still, the infighting continued and I progressively became turned off. To make matters worse, the Atlanta march had the counterfeit Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta chapter as a community partner. With that in mind, I went home. A few days later, plans for the National Pride March, organized by David Brulnooge, were announced. The march is scheduled for early June in conjunction with Washington D.C.’s Capitol Pride Weekend.
Although going to another city’s Pride is a goal of mine, I am faced with the same decision I had to make for the Women’s March.
As I’ve written several times, the LGBTQ community has a dismal track record when it comes to diversity. Brulnooge said he was inspired after “watching the events [of the Women’s March] unfold on TV and I was very proud and inspired by all the women, the strong women in our country who were kind of taking this to the street and getting their voices heard.” That’s nice, but he already made one key mistake.
This march was originally called Gays on the Mall before Ryan Bos, executive director of the Capital Pride Alliance, urged Brulnooge to give it a more inclusive name. That’s an immediate red flag.
The original title makes me feel like an afterthought. It’s the same feeling I get when I walk through Midtown or get separated from my group at Pride. It makes me feel like the Latavia to the gays’ Beyoncé and that ain’t cute. If we’re going to survive this administration as a community, we should stop making these mistakes. It’s easy to blame that flub on being a new organizer, but that should never be an excuse. We have a wealth of information at our fingertips. Google is free, y’all. If you try, you can learn how to make your movement work and actions inclusive to everyone. Part of my frustration with the pussyhat posse was people urging organizers to handle them with kid gloves while not requiring anything from them. I want the LGBTQ community to be an example. According to the march’s Facebook page, “this will be an ALL-inclusive and peaceful event.” I hope so. I will be watching. Hopefully, I will be inspired enough to twerk in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the name of queer resistance.