Yesterday was a special day in Memphis, Tennessee.
Black people, white people, gay people, straight people, transgender people, [insert minority and/or majority here], etc., gathered together to begin a march at the National Civil Rights Museum, to push for equal rights for all people.
You see, the National Civil Rights Museum surrounds the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. If you think you know the narrative of what happened in Memphis during the weeks leading up to his death, you probably do not, but you can be forgiven, because I didn’t know the whole story until the other night. That’s a story I hope to bring to you all in coming months, one that has been whitewashed out of the history books.
But suffice it to say that it was significant that this march began there.
People of all shades, all religions and lacks-thereof, many of whom had to take off work to do so, came together on Monday afternoon, to march from the National Civil Rights Museum to City Hall.
The marchers moved North, through historic streets and locations: past the Lorraine motel; across Beale Street, the home of The Blues; past the Peabody Hotel, the Northern boundary of the Miss’ippi Delta; past the old Cotton Exchanges, which put Memphis on the economic map; past the Belz Museum of Judaic and Asian Art, supported by the Belz family, which stands in tribute to the rich Jewish tradition in Memphis; all the way through Court Square, all the way to City Hall.
Once we arrived at City Hall, all various and sundry people took the megaphone and spoke to the hundreds gathered. Some, like my friends Christy, Jonathan and Will, were members or leaders of gay rights organizations and LGBT nonprofits. Others were just regular citizens. Amidst our cheering, a man stood up and explained that it was his deceased partner’s 50th birthday. Nine years ago, his beloved partner took his own life, having been torn down for decades by the hateful messages he received from “moral” friends and family. He asked that we all celebrate this day, in this space, in remembrance of his spouse. Through the tears we all found suddenly in our eyes and on our cheeks, we did.
Many pictures were taken today. I’ll share some that are out so far, but stay tuned, because the best are yet to come.
Somebody I know had this to say about this experience today, of a Southern town coming together, organically, to stand up and show our government and our neighbors that We Are All Memphis:
I have never been more proud of my friends and my city than I was today during the march for our rights as gay citizens of Memphis. Thank you to my hometown Stuttgart boy Michael Hildebrand, everyone who marched, and a HUGE “THANK YOU” to all my straight friends who stood beside us and supported us. I LOVE YOU ALL!
I agree, sir. I agree.
In case anyone is curious, the number of protesters amounted to one guy riding the trolley in the opposite direction, who, as far as I could tell, simply said “fuck” a lot, as well as a bunch of other moronic unintelligible gibberish, which is the linguistic equivalent of what we hear every day from Maggie Gallagher, Peter LaBarbera, Bryan Fischer, Matt Barber, and the legal team defending Proposition 8. Some lone dillweed shouting incomprehensible bigotry in the wind, with the aroma of literal horseshit in his path.
Quickly, there is something I want you to know about this picture. What you are looking at is a mother, her son, her daughter, her son’s partner, and her daughter’s partner. This is what the Religious Right is not talking about when they say “Family Values.” They only care about families when they conform to their rigid, mind-numbing, soul-killing notions of family. LGBT Americans and those who support us will always have the market cornered on the ACTUAL meaning of Family Values. Anyways, continue looking at pictures now.
And this last picture is what is known in some circles as a “Pooker for Equality.” Don’t ask.