By Ben Cartwright | Back Out With Benny
This Sunday, we’re asking community members to come out and march at The Equality March: San Diego, in conjunction with the National LGBTQ March on Washington and many other marches across the country happening the same day.
We’re marching to claim the rights that all people should enjoy. We’re marching to stand up for the protections of all people in our community. And we’re marching so that we can be heard by those in power to the highest office in the land and around the globe.
In light of today’s political climate, there have been a lot of marches as of late. The highly successful womens’ marches, the People’s Climate March, the March for Science, the March for Truth, and many others. It’s been amazing to see the hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets around the country to make their voices heard and they have made a difference. Those in power are seeing that there are more people than they ever imagined that support the human rights and dignity that all people should be afforded.
But is marching all there is to do? What happens after we march? What do we do with all that energy?
One sure and clear thing we can do, for those who are eligible, is to vote. Voting is a power that all U.S. citizens over 18 years of age hold and so many don’t take advantage of it. Many people will come out to march or protest when a bad policy decision is made, but it really is so much easier to vote. Our political system was set up so that the people’s interests are represented by their elected leaders. Unfortunately, when we don’t vote, we aren’t ensuring that our best interests are being represented.
I know that we’ve all read hundreds of articles and campaigns like this that implore others to vote and I’m not sure how effective my voice will be, but if I can get even a few people to change their thinking about voting, I’ll have made a difference.
I’ve been participating in marches and rallies for almost 20 years now and I’ve also voted in every single election since I was able to vote in 1998 and I can tell you with certainty that it’s a lot easier to drop a ballot in the mail than to organize or even show up for these protest events.
As one of the organizers of this Sunday’s Equality March: San Diego, I’m looking forward to seeing thousands of our community members, friends and allies show up in full force to speak up for our rights and equality. We deserve nothing less and I am looking forward to the collective statement we will make together. But when the march ends, we’ve put our signs down and gone back to our daily lives, I really want people to realize how powerful our individual voices can also be.
As mentioned above, voting is one of the most powerful ways to speak up, and here are some others:
- Know who your local legislators and politicians are and how you can reach them. You can find out by entering your zip code here tinyurl.com/mt7tlt6.
- Get out there! Complaining on social media only goes so far.
- Participate in community meetings. Most neighborhoods have a community association of some sort (like Hillcrest has the Hillcrest Town Council) that hold regular meetings and elected officials or their representatives are almost always present and easily accessible.
- Contact your elected representatives and let them know how you feel about issues that are important to you. They do listen!
- Volunteer for a campaign. Help get people whose values match yours into office.
- Help register voters. You can do this through an organized program (like The Center’s non-partisan voter outreach program) or by simply encouraging your friends and co-workers to register.
- Donate. Financial contributions help advance causes and candidates.
I hope to see many of you this Sunday at the march and continue in the struggle together once we put our marching shoes back in the closet. Further details about the march are below.
Individually and together, we can make a difference!
Getting Out With Benny
There are so many events going on this weekend, it almost feels like a mini-Pride weekend here in San Diego! Some of the highlights include:
FilmOut San Diego’s 19th Annual Film Festival — “Sweet!”
We are lucky to have such a vibrant LGBTQ arts community in San Diego and our film festival is no exception. FilmOut San Diego, which screens films year round, will hold its annual film festival this weekend, opening on Friday night. The weekend long festival will include parties, screenings, meet and greets, and more. I can’t wait to enjoy some of the films in between events this weekend: For tickets and more information, visit tinyurl.com/ya375cdd.
Out at The Fair: This fun event, now in its seventh year, brings the LGBT community together at the San Diego County Fair on Saturday, June 10. While all the regular fair fun will be happening, the day will also include a special resource area, entertainment, shows, and more. Visit tinyurl.com/y9k2t3r5.
The Equality March: San Diego: Community members will gather at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 11 at Sixth Avenue and Juniper Street in Balboa Park. The march will kick off at 11 a.m., and end up at the County Administration Building’s Waterfront Park at noon for a rally with speakers, including community leaders, elected officials and others. Visit sdpride.org/march.
#OrlandoStrong — We Remember: Monday, June 12, marks one year since the massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The Center will host a gathering at 6:30 p.m. that day to remember the 49 lives lost that night. Everyone is welcome to The Center’s parking lot for the event, which will include a reading of the names and a vigil. Visit tinyurl.com/yc72tovm.
—Benny Cartwright is the director of community outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He can be reached at 619-692-2077 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Byline photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography.