Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Out of the Closets, Into the Streets

"People should really honor liberty, and that we all have our personal preferences and choices to make, and that is only our business." -- Protester at the October 11th Gay March in Washington, D.C.

October 11th was also National Coming Out Day.

"Coming out" means telling your family, friends, and co-workers that you are something other than heterosexual, be it homosexual, bisexual or transgender. The public admission can have a powerful impact, especially if you are -- or hope to become -- a member of America’s armed forces. Homosexuals are barred by law from serving in the U.S. military.

One of the chants at this rally was "Out of the Closets, Into the Streets!"

Protesters demanded that gay couples be granted equal marriage rights across the United States – permitting, among other things, access to their partners’ health-care benefits. They called for equal immigration laws, so that gay partners can acquire U.S. citizenship.

They also asked for better protection against discrimination and the right to be openly gay within the U.S. military.

Protesters paraded with vibrant rainbow-colored banners and outfits. Throughout the march they shouted a variety of slogans, including "Back of the bus, hell no! Discrimination has got to go!" and carried signs like "Everyone Has a Gay Uncle." Some marchers showed off dance moves called "voguing."

Their march also attracted anti-gay protesters who believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and that homosexual activity is sinful.

Here is a story by VOA’s Kent Klein reporting that President Obama, in a speech to a gay rights group the day before the march, promised that he would work to change laws so that gays can serve openly within the U.S. military.

Below, more sights and sounds in slideshow format from the protest.