Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commemoration of 9/11 at Harvey Milk Plaza: The Show Tolerance Not Hate Rally

Activist Kelly Hart

A small but enthusiastic group of activists marked the nine years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 on the evening of Sept. 11 at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro for a "Show Tolerance and Not Hate Rally." Coordinator and MC Kelly Hart emotionally began the event as the audience crowded around him in the rapidly fading light. Even a succession of his jokes did not lessen Hart’s intensity, and he is the kind of narrowly focused and driven marriage activist that has made it possible for marriage equality to be successful as a mass movement.

Activist Kelly Hart

Hart is the founder of POZ Activist Network, he is a member of the AIDS Care Planning Council, he was a chapter leader for Marriage Equality USA, he was on the San Francisco Pride Board, and he is active in the “Do I Look Illegal?” opposition to the Arizona racial profiling law.

The first speaker was Rev. Karen Oliveto from Glide Memorial Methodist Church and the Pacific School of Religion. She is on the Glide ministry team that provides health services, job training, affordable housing, and nearly a million free meals a year.

Rev. Roland Stringfellow

The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Director of Ministerial Outreach from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion spoke next. He works to have political activists join with people of faith to do outreach to misguided religious people to alleviate the demonization of LGBT citizens.

Activist Jack Fertig

Jack Fertig of Muslims for Progressive Values and Al-Fatiha (an international organization for LGBT Muslims) spoke with his characteristic sarcastic tone to point out that the fringe Christian pastors such as Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, and Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, help LGBT’s by linking their extremist remarks with the hate speech of religious figures who say they love LGBTs, but condemn same-sex coupling, and denigrate marriage and job equality.

Activist Andrea Shorter

Andrea Shorter, who is the Deputy Director of Marriage and Coalitions at Equality California, also spoke. She pointed out that the rally was at Harvey Milk Plaza, and that Milk stood for tolerance, diversity, and most of all hope. Shorter is the president of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

There were discussions later nearby about why more people did not join the throng on Sept. 11 and ENDA rally on Sept. 9. The statement from many has been that this is a post-activism era where even the most avid rally and protest participants — college students — are not to be seen. They are spotted shopping and buying and selling online, and increasingly getting in touch with their bodies on bicycles and in yoga classes. This is also evident among the mass of LGBT’s who used to show up in large numbers for the various events but are now on eBay on their phones and showing off new bikes and yoga mats on the streets.

The media reported that sex workers, massage therapists, and psychiatrists saw a huge increase in clients after 9/11, and that could explain where a lot of people have found themselves. Submerging oneself in extra hours of sex, body manipulation, and tranquilizers could take the edge off of a need to get out into the plazas to protest.

There also were comments that people feel less safe now on Castro Street, due to recent published reports of horrific crimes and vandalism. The lack of a police presence is the first thing that some tourists say about the area, besides the sewer smell coming from the Walgreens parking lot. The only obvious on-the-street deterrent since the death of the Patrol Special’s Jane Warner is the armed guard in front of Bank of America and an occasional patrol car.

Event speakers Jack Fertig, Rev. Karen Oliveto, Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Kelly Hart and Andrea Shorter

The anniversary of 9/11 brought out feelings of sorrow and helplessness in some people discussing the day later in caf├ęs. Alternative publications said that TV commentator Dan Rather crying on David Letterman’s show after 9/11 was more about a wealthy, privileged person feeling fear for the first time, something that poor people feel every day in their dangerous neighborhoods and at their dangerous jobs. That fear may have had something to do with 9/11 rally attendance.

1 comment:

Larry-bob said...

Oh, that is great commentary about what people are doing instead of protesting...