By Mark Otte
Thousands of LBGTQ activists gathered at the Texas State Capitol last Friday night to voice their concerns about President Trump and legislation proposed by Texas lawmakers currently in session.
After gathering early in the evening at Auditorium Shores in downtown Austin, the group marched up Congress Avenue as police closed cross streets as the demonstration passed by. Once at the Capitol steps, leaders from the LBGTQ community, city of Austin, and even one U.S. congressman began to make speeches in front of the pink-granite backdrop.
One of the most notable speakers of the evening was US Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who was one of the dozens of lawmakers in Washington that opted not to attend the presidential inauguration.
“I had a decision to make today,” Doggett said. “I chose to march with One Resistance, and to rally with you and to join with the thousands of women that are going to be here tomorrow.”
Doggett, like many of the speakers took the opportunity to take shots at SB 6, the so-called “Bathroom Bill”.
“GOP now means ‘guard our potty’,” said Doggett. “How they misunderstood us when we told them, these busybodies, that we wanted them out of our bedrooms, we didn’t mean for them to go in to our bathrooms.
It wasn’t just SB 6 that came under fire. SB 242 would obligate teachers and school councilors to give parents information about students, if requested. This information could include their sexual preference, even if the student had requested that they not be exposed, and many of the speakers spoke clearly in opposition to the bill.
Jimmy Flannigan, a newly elected Austin city councilman and first openly-gay man to hold that post, talked to onlookers about his four-year battle to win his seat. He described the shocking things he said to him when he decided to run.
“I heard very unsettling comments from the left: ‘Gay guy can’t win an election in your conservative district’, or ‘we’re not sure we want to support you even though your opponent is a racist’,” Flannigan said. “Or, as one person said, “we want to make sure that you are not one of those screaming gay guys that don’t know how to get along.'”
Other speakers included award-winning poet Lacey Roop and ATX Democratic Socialists of America Queer Coalition co-chair Taylor Jones.
Event organizers Lisa Kettyle, Suzy Shelor, Lynda Blakeslee, and Joette Pelliccia said that they planned the event in just two weeks, reminding the crowd what just four people can do.
Featured image by Mark Otte