Despite my youth I've put myself out there as an activist many times and want to share my experience in those situations. I'll post about them here.
It is obvious that I am not a fan of The President of the United States, Donald Trump. I wasn’t a fan of Hillary Clinton either, but at least there was possibility of organized hell. Nonetheless though, hell. After the election I, like millions of other people, was outraged by the outcome of the 2016 election and, like millions of other people, took to the streets to protest.
What was interesting to me was that I heard no incidents of protesters getting out of hand, being violent, or blocking traffic in undesignated areas. In fact, towards the end of the evening a firetruck needed to get through the streets in a hurry. As soon as we heard the emergency vehicle’s siren, everyone scurried like unearthed rolly pollies out of the way. The firetruck proceeded through, full speed ahead, uninterrupted. However, I saw with my own eyes a woman driving her car past the street barricade the police had erected, and straight towards a small group of protesters in the middle of the street. I believe the driver would have continued their attempt to run over the protesters if a policeman had not bravely stepped out in front of the vehicle, demanding she stop. She halted but in doing so, bumped a protester to the ground. She was given a ticket.
My personal takeaway from the night was a healing sense of unity with my community. When I had joined the group I started right up front, chanting with everything I had in me. All of the anger, confusion, and terror exploded out of me. Surrounding me were all of these people of different ages, races, religions, orientations, classes, and backgrounds. We were all so different but we all felt the same way. And that collective feeling of outrage propelled us for hours to march on the streets our tax dollars paid for. It had a similar excitement to the first minute of a New Year’s Day, except instead of optimistic promises about the future, the following days would be filled with preparation for resistance.
So a couple weeks ago on a Saturday there was a gathering in support of the Black Lives Matter movement downtown at Rosa Park’s Circle, Grand Rapids. There were people with thought provoking signs, T-shirt sellers, and a half hour long presentation.
Donald Jackass Trump
From the title, it is deducible that I’m not a Trump fan. I’m not a Hillary fan either but in this election I would be forced to vote for her. The thing about this election is that most people aren’t voting for who they do want to be president; they’re voting against who they can’t bare to see as president. I digress.
Trump visited the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex some time in the middle of December. With him he brought his American flag lapel pin and bigoted dreams for America. Listening to his empty promises and provoking opinions I became angry and, quite honestly, bored. We had heard this all before. What else do you have for us, Mr. Trump? Besides implications of a white only America. Suddenly there was a break in the crowd as security guards moved towards a young man yelling that Trump was a bigot.
There are anti-Trump people here! I’m not completely surrounded by Trump supporters.
That happened a few more times, some of which where captured on video. Finally I was riled up enough. I decided it was my turn. I wedged my small body into the front crowd.
“DUMP THE TRUMP.” I repeated over and over. People all around me were staring. I felt tightness around my left arm.
I turned to see an older man not much taller than me. “Time for you to go little lady.” People were closing in on me, shoving me, all talking at once.
A young man interjected and took the older man’s hand off of me. “Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself. Get your hands off her.”
I was free. I continued. Two security guards came up on either side of me. Trump pointed at me. “Get her out of here.”
I had got what I wanted. I left with my arms up, my hands in the peace symbol.
My First Counter-Protest
Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved in this event. Names have also been given to those who I don’t know the names of in order to provide clarification for the reader.
It’s the third of July. My friends and I are in downtown Grand Rapids for the fourth of July firework show because America’s independence from England was our shining moment in history. This is because we won against an oppressive government instead of committing genocide against the innocent.
Three groups have made a triangle in the road. At one vertex we have redneck Joe, blatantly arguing against the disgusting practice of gay sex, and the injustice to America it would be to give them the right to be married to each other. In vertex two we have Norma and Al, followers of Jesus Christ and lovers of the new testament.
I asked sweet Norma, “Where does it say in the Bible that homosexuality is sin?”
“Oh all over the place! Especially in the new testament. We feel that people who are – what do you kids call it, gay? – are giving in to the devil and sinning. If they give in to their sins the way Adam and Eve did, they will go to hell. Speaking of Adam and Eve, they were heterosexual. That was God’s way of symbolizing that straight love is the only love.”
Let’s take a minute to talk about that. First, it is crucial to point out that she did not quote any specific passage of the Bible. Without this establishment of proper citation, her ethos is diminished and therefore not credible. “The Bible says so” is not a valid argument for any type of hatred. Second, when I said homosexual to her in my question, Norma was visibly uncomfortable. She preferred to call it “gay” instead. Whichever term anyone uses is fine, of course, but to cringe at the non-slang term demonstrates her closed minded bigotry. Let’s continue.
At the third vertex we have Randy with the giant sign. “GAY MARRIAGE = SIN” I have to admit that I didn’t even attempt conversation with this man. I was just so infuriated. Here I am having been raised to believe that marriage is a celebration of love between two people, no matter their gender. Here I am surrounded by people raised to believe something so different from my own belief; which wouldn’t be a problem if their beliefs weren’t so hateful and unaccepting. On top of that, those counter protesting this triangle of anti-love are fighting hate with hate! Shoving gay porn in their faces, grinding on each other, shouting curse words and other forms of meanness. This is not the way to make love win.
With tears welled in my eyes and fury balled up in my chest I turned to my friend Jessie, “Hold my water bottle.”
Planted in the middle of the hate triangle, I begin to yell.
“LOVE IS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE, GAY OR STRAIGHT”
“I STAND WITH LGBT.”
“GAY IS OK.”
As I walk around, yelling myself horse, I pass a police officer. “Hi do I need to stop sir?”
“Preach on young lady.”
And I continue. I yell about how God believes in love. God is accepting. Our children do not deserve to grow up in a world of hatred. People are stopping, starring, recording me. The protesters fall silent, watching, waiting for me to stop.
Why isn’t anyone yelling with me? Where are you now, counter protesters?
I hear another voice. “GAY IS OK.”
Yes! Another ally! I stop yelling to smile at her and we converse for a minute. While I’ve stopped yelling people are hugging me, talking to me. A large man with a pipe comes up to me and shows me a website that translates bible excerpts used to fuel hatred into different meaning that are not hateful and, to me, make more sense than their previous translations.
By now I’ve shouted enough to not be able to anymore. The fury in my chest has subsided for now. It’s time for the firework show to start.
After the fireworks Jessie turns to me and says “I liked your show better.”