Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Night Of Empowerment in New York

I raced out of the studio at 6 p.m. last night and up to Lincoln Center, the site of the protest against Prop 8 outside the Mormon Temple. The protest wasn't to start until 6:30 but there were already hundreds of people there by 6:15. There was an electricity in the air, something I haven't felt in a long time at a street demonstration.

Within minutes thousands of people converged on the Mormon Manhattan Temple chanting, "Shame!" and filling up two large areas on both sides of the street, and eventually partially surrounding the temple. Meanwhile, thousands more were still underground, coming up from the subway, and slowly making their way out as the crowd swelled.

Whoopi Goldberg made her way throught the crowd, giving interviews and lending her name. Our producer David Guggenheim interviewed Whoopi, and we'll be playing it on the show today. JoemyGod has as a photo of her and others, and lots of great coverage. Andy Towle of Towlroad, which has been a great resource for news on Prop 8, has lots of photos he's going to be putting up too, so check in with him throughout the day.

Corey Johnson did a phenomenal job organizing the protest, doing all the legwork and working nonstop for several days. Don't forget that we came up with the idea for this protest -- Corey and lesbian activist Ann Northop and I -- on instant message and on telephone late on Saturday night. We put it up on Facebook and then it just blew up. Eighteen years ago we'd work in ACT UP for six months to get maybe two thousand people to demonstration. With this one, within five days 10,000 to 15,000 , as most reports seem to concur, were inspired to show up and voice their concerns at the Mormon Church for its having raised 20 million dollars to pass Prop 8. Enormous thanks to ACT UP veterans who saw this thing growing, realized it could be a big success or a big disaster if not properly executed, and jumped in to help with logistics, police negotiations, marshall training and media relations: Brian Zabcik, Jay Blotcher, John Voelcker, Drew Beaver and Ron Goldberg.

After expressing our outrage at the Mormon leadership at the temple, we marched down Broadway to Columbus Circle, with those at the front carrying a 70-foot banner created by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker. Looking back you could see the crowd going back for blocks.

I was absolutely blown away by the turnout and so excited to see so many new, young faces. I think Prop 8 has galvanized a generation, spawning new activists in a way nothing else has. Gay City News' Andy Humm took the photo above and some of these below.

The photos below were taken by Jim Colucci, hubby of Sirius OutQ's very own Frank DeCaro, who was out there in full and fabulous force protesting with his equally fabulous sign. In the first photo he's holding up his sign with our producer David Guggenheim, who was in the crowd doing interviews. Jim Colucci is in the second photo, on the left.