Millennium Park was the setting for a demonstration sponsored by the Gay Liberation Network on May 17th to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHO, which began in 2005).
About 30 people marched with huge rainbow flags and signs highlighting examples of anti-LGBT actions in countries around the world as the workday was ending in the Loop. Marchers took turns with the portable microphone calling out chants while flyers were handed out to the passers-by on Michigan Avenue. The protest was met with no opposition and there was no visible police presence.
Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network (GLN), pointed out that in most countries this demonstration would not be allowed so it is important for those of us who can to speak out about the injustices felt by LGBT people around the world. He also said "the LGBT movement in this country needs to be much more international than it is right now. We, in the United States, stand to learn a great deal from LGBT activists around the world, for example gaining simple legal equality which was achieved in South Africa when they wrote their constitution following the Apartheid era which the United States is light years away from achieving." He also said that we need to have basic solidarity with fellow LGBT people around the world.
Vicki Cervantes of La Voz de los de Abajo had this to say about the rally: "We are here to support the day against homophobia for many reasons including the situation in Honduras where we do a lot of work. There is lots of violence against the LGBT community and since the military coup of 2009 it's become a horrible problem. It is a country with less than 8 million people and it is the second most violent country against the LGBT community in the hemisphere only after Brazil. Since the coup there has been 30 documented murders of LGBTI activists and many other people have just disappeared. This is why we are here."
The GLN's Bob Schwartz said, "LGBT people and their allies need to get out into the streets to be visible and rally for equal rights. Relying on politicians has been a disaster and I hope that people in Minnesota will be aggressive in their campaign to defeat the constitutional amendment up there. In other states like Maine and California we were just too nice and our enemies pulled out the stops and played the fear card and won. Both of those fights should have been won...We have to put a human face to this fight and be visible."
At the end of the demonstration Thayer told the crowd about upcoming events that the Gay Liberation Network is planning. To find out more about these events check out their website www.gayliberation.net/home.html.