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04/14/2010

Dance under the pride flag, demand equality under the American one

by Jeremy Hooper

The LGBT community's annual pride celebrations were born out of activism. It was seen as a time to bust out of closets and bound into the streets, an act of liberation in an all-too-constraining world. One part celebration, one part call to action.

But while the sense of liberation has remained and the joy of celebration has grown exponentially, the activism has a tendency to take a back seat in modern parades. I get that. Everyone wants to celebrate, especially in the summer. It's understandable that marginalized people would want a day to just shut down, throw on some glitter, and fight not to obtain equal rights but rather to get to the front of the bar to obtain that frozen rainbow cocktail. Make mine a double.

This year, we are at an interesting point in time. We have what might be the most favorable political landscape we will see for quite some time. Screen Shot 2010-04-14 At 8.25.57 Am-1We are in an election year, where we need to fight like LGBT Partiers to maintain some of those allied seats in all areas of government. And we have a list of promises for which we need to hold those who are already in office accountable. We have to rise up before the opportunity passes us by. Or better yet: We have to rise up so as to sustain whatever opportunity we currently have.

That's why I, Jeremy, have signed on to this new effort to bring a renewed sense of activism to this year's pride celebrations. Check it out and see what you think:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 13, 2010

"TAKE BACK PRIDE" CAMPAIGN HOPES TO EDUCATE LGBT COMMUNITY AND ALLIES

TAKEBACKPRIDE.ORG

(NEW YORK, NY) April 13, 2010 - In response to the current political environment and in the interest of unifying the work of LGBT Organizations around the country, Take Back Pride is a new campaign aimed towards educating our community and the citizens of the United States on the many inequalities we currently face.

Over the past forty years, since the very first Pride March, we feel that some of the aspects of protest have disappeared from many Pride celebrations. While it remains alive and well in some places, we believe that through education and inclusion of ALL members of our community, we can work to actually use our incredibly diverse and beautiful marches to advance our civil rights.

The website, which will continue to be updated as we move ahead, will serve as a resource to those willing to participate in the campaign. While we are based in New York and are in communication with Heritage of Pride NYC in the hopes of working together on this project, we hope to include citizens in every part of the US in Taking Back Pride.

Please consider the attached letter and endorsements as an open letter to our community and allies.

***

April 13, 2010

Dear Members of the LGBTQ Community, Our Allies and Community Partners,

While last year we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of our liberation at Stonewall on the last Sunday of June in 1969, we are celebrating another anniversary in 2010. And we need to do it right.

On the last Sunday in June 1970, Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance, in
commemoration of the Stonewall riots, staged the first “Gay Liberation Day March.”
Organizers in Los Angeles and San Francisco also held marches that day.

We have much to celebrate. As a community we have struggled and fought for our very
lives. Together, we have accomplished what at one time was a fantasy at best. Our sexual
liberation has been celebrated every year now for 40 years with what was once a march
and is now a parade, in the streets of New York and dozens of other cities across the
country and the world.

This year, in light of the major battles we have ahead of us, we are asking for all of you to
join us in taking back pride. While we have so much to be proud of in what we have
accomplished as a community, this fight is far from over. We want our community to not
only remember those who have fought and died before us, but to forge ahead in the
struggle -- so that our children may one day live truly free and equal lives in this country.

The organizers of Pride Marches around the country work tirelessly over the course of the
year to bring us the most inclusive marches and celebrations in the world. We want to help
those organizers by working with them to implement plans for education and protest within
our marches.

We know that our community is made up of every race, creed, religious affiliation and
political background imaginable. We come from everywhere, from Africa to New Zealand.
We represent Conservatives and Socialists. We are made up of Catholics and Buddhists
alike. The time has come to embrace our ideals and differences and remember that what
we have in common as a community - is our strength.

For Pride 2010, we ask that organizers and participants of marches around this great
country take this opportunity to be heard. Yell. Scream. Chant. Wear your chaps and
thongs, but carry a sign while you do it. Put on your most sequined ball gown, but shout
for your rights as you flaunt your fabulousness. The sheer number of people who turn out
in the streets this June will send a clear message around the world that we are not content
with what we have. We are somebody. We deserve full equality.

If you’re marching with a group, ask your group what they are angry about. It could be
Marriage Inequality, or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It could be that in 31 states, you can still be
fired for being gay (see the “What Are You Angry About” section on this page.)

We owe it to our community and to those young gay people who are still afraid to say who
they are to TAKE BACK PRIDE. Make your signs. Create your chants. It’s time for us all
to remember this is a march, not a parade. This is OUR celebration of who we are and it
has the potential to once again be something we are ALL truly proud of.

On Tuesday, May 11th in New York City, we will be having a community town hall
discussion about what we can do to Take Back Pride. We encourage all groups
participating in Pride to take part. And for those of you outside New York, the meeting will
be posted on YouTube. You may also visit www.TakeBackPride.org to see how YOU can
help Take Back Pride.

Jamie McGonnigal
www.TalkAboutEquality.org

Lt. Dan Choi
US National Guard
NYC Pride Grand Marshall

Robin McGehee
GetEqual

Alan Bounville
Member-Queer Rising, New York

Brandon Brock
Western Queens for Marriage Equality

Tituss Burgess
Broadway Actor - The Little Mermaid

Andrew Conte

Marti Gould Cummings
Co-Founder, Broadway Speaks OUT!

Natasha Dillon
Member - Queer Rising, New York

Matt Doyle
Broadway Actor - Bye Bye Birdie

Peter Dunn
DrinkingforaChange.org

Eric Ethington
PRIDE In Your Community
http://prideinutah.com

Justin Elzie
Activist & Writer

Todd (Tiff) Fernandez, Esq

David John Fleck
Get Equal; Activist

Marcelo Gomes
Principal Dancer - American Ballet Theatre

Blake Hayes
BlakeHayes.com

Jeremy Hooper
www.GoodAsYou.org

Jordan Fife Hunt
www.TalkAboutEquality.org

Hugh Hysell
Hugh Hysell Communications

Corey Johnson
Towleroad.com

Tom Johnson
Partner in Therapy & Barrage

Jenny Kanelos
Broadway Impact

Adam Kern

Jim Klever-Weis
Executive Producer - Ugly Betty

Jennifer Michaud
Graphic Designer - Take Back Pride logo

Rebecca Louise Miller
Actor - “Prayers for Bobby”

David Mixner
DavidMixner.com

Rich Murray
Member-Queer Rising, New York

Scott Nevins
TV Personality truTV’s “The Smoking Gun
Presents”

Dan Nicoletta
Photographer

Ann Northrop
Co-host, GAY USA

Rory O’Malley
Broadway Impact

Ken O’Neill
Author of “The Marrying Kind”

Randy Redd
We are the Song:After the Storm

Chris Ryan
Chris Ryan Productions

Christopher Sieber
Broadway Actor - Shrek, The Kid

Melissa Sklarz

Guy Smith & Robert Montenegro
Activists: MENY, The Power, Married
10/17/08 Tujunga, CA.

Tom Viola
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

If you would like to add your name or your organization to this list, please email us at takebackpride@gmail.com.

**UPDATE: It's almost June: Are your demands as up-to-date as your outfit? [G-A-Y]

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