This is the Marriage Equality Rally at the capitol building in Olympia (Washington state), celebrating the House passing HB1515 (barring discrimination by sexual orientation - ie, you can't be fired for being gay) and to demonstrate for marriage equality, and the first rally or demonstration I've attended. Happy Valentine's day to you, to everyone, and to all those who will come after us. It is a very small gift I have to offer, one more cheering white-haired ghost in all that throng, one more red carnation and one more singer and one more blue and gold sign and one more smile for companions-along-the-way I've never before met, but it is a very honest gift.
It was incredible. I seem to be a bit hoarse, though. :)
Edit, 12:44 AM:
Thoughts on the Rally
Very odd combination of calculated and oddly touching.
There was a rabbi and group of Jews who had brought a huppah, the canopy the bride and groom stand under in a Jewish wedding, to the rally as their banner, a beautiful embroidered shimmering deep blue thing. (I am told that the huppah is open on all four sides, like Abraham's tent, as a sign of hospitality and openness. Apply grain of salt, though - this is second-hand knowledge. But it's still a really cool thing to carry in a march like this.)
We were told to wear red, but it was rather cold, so you mostly saw coats. Red carnations for everyone, though, and everywhere you turned, scarlet secret under the coats - a scarf, an inside-out Cardinals baseball cap, the collar of a red shirt, children with red ribbons in their hair, muslims with red hijabs, priests in their Pentacost-red vestments. A man whose badge identified him as a representative, standing in the crowd with a scarlet handkerchief in his coat, and a bright red tie, and a carnation.
It was excessively well organized. They had signs for each district, and you could take or stand near someone who had one of them to make sure legislators knew people from their districts were present (and there were people from every district). They had set up, in advance, appointments with each senator and representative and handed out schedules of the appointments when you got there. We'd been warned in advance to wear nice clothes to talk to politicians in. And a 'report card' you could fill out about how the senator reacted, and send back to the organizers so they'd know what direction to take for further lobbying. There was music, a men's chorus and a women's chorus and sheet music handed out to everyone. It was easy for an utter n00b like me to get involved, to know who to talk to and what to do. And they thoughtfully provided directions and happy hour times for Olympia's best gay bar. :)
I had not attended anything like this before - I don't even like the pride parade. I'm a cynic - I admire how well it was set up, how slick and staged and designed to make maximum impact on the wheels of government.
But somehow none of that makes any of it untrue, none of the obvious skill of the organizers undoes a single person there, a single voice, a single hand-lettered sign, a single discarded carnation leaf crushed underfoot. None of that unmakes the shimmerblue of the huppah.
I cheered when a group poured out of a bus and took up the sign for District 5, the last one left. All across the state - Seattle of silver water and soft light, Tacoma where the tree roots grow over crumbling concrete ruins, Yakima dry and scented of sage, Spokane with apple orchards twisted and sweet, Coupeville old and salt-gray and creased as paper, Friday Harbor where the waves break, and all the places I've never been and all the districts where the cities are so small I don't even know their names. Priests and rabbis and muslims and couples holding hands and grandparents with blown-up photographs of their lesbian grandchildren and people with mohawks and rainbow dreads and children with signs as big as they were.
And here I thought I was immune to Valentine's sentiment. :) Shows you how much I know, huh? This was a most excellent way to make trouble, and not even I can tell if I was mocking Valentine's Day, or deeply honoring it.