You have the choice of doing nothing. Or the choice of doing something. For me, I can’t sit around and watch the destruction of our social progress.
For years, I have marched in LGBT Pride Parades all across America. I have proudly marched with LGBTQ+ marching bands, playing as loudly and being as visible as possible to raise awareness and celebrate who we are and how hard we have fought to get to where we are today.
I have marched in pride parades in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Phoenix, Palm Springs, and Long Beach. I marched with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association at President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration. My heart has never been so full of love and pride!
But our reality is starkly changing today. The progress we have made in the last 40+ years is being threatened. Access to health care is being challenged with a potential repeal or replacement of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Equality, services, and access to care for women, Transgender people, people of color, immigrants, and many others are being challenged or already retracted. Even marriage equality is being challenged in some states!
Many of these battles will be fought in the boardrooms and city council chambers. Many will be fought in the courtrooms. We know that we can also take our fight to the streets with the #ResistMarch and demonstrate that we will not back down. We will not surrender. And we will not lose!
I got a second chance at life. Being an openly gay, HIV+ man in recovery, I get the opportunity to help others. It’s important to me to be visible so that others can see that people like us deserve better lives and can live better lives.
The #ResistMarch is one of those great exposure mechanisms for me to show the world that we matter and to know that I am fighting for healthcare, immigration, equality and all the other factors that affect us every day. We didn’t come this far to get pushed back into the periphery. We’ve come this far to show that we will resist, fight, and go as far as it takes until we all get the care and equal treatment we need to live happy, fulfilled, and meaningful lives.
So this year is different. It is not normal. I hope it is a short anomaly. But I know that I am making a choice do something about our situation in hopes of going forward, not backward. I’m going back to school to learn about public policy. I’m working hard with my constituents on legislative watches to anticipate the administration’s next moves so we can try to stay ahead of the game. I’m signing petitions and calling my elected officials.
I’m volunteering. I’m talking to people in red states and blue states alike to garner support and explain why their votes and phone calls can change the world. I’m marching. I’m resisting.
This is no time to stop. This is the time to work harder than we have in recent years. And most importantly, this is a time for us to come together as a community. For too long, we have been so divided, even within our own communities. Let’s build each other up! Let’s protect each other! Let’s celebrate each other! Let’s make each other stronger! Only then can we truly have the impact we need to move forward as a community, and as a nation.
And we know how to fight! We have done this before. We rallied in 1967 to protest the Black Cat police raids in Los Angeles. We gathered in 1970 on Hollywood Boulevard for LA’s first major protest advocating for Gay Rights. We fought through the AIDS epidemic. We fought through Marriage Equality. But now, our fight is even bigger. Because we are everybody and everybody is us.
We know what hate and fear look like. And that will continue if we do nothing. But when you step up and when we win equality for all, you will know that you did something.
As the mission of the #ResistMarch states, “When any American’s rights are under threat, all our rights are threatened.” This is the time to get out in the streets and march! I hope to see you joining us on June 11th at 8 a.m. at Hollywood and Highland. We will stand in solidarity! We will unite as one! We will RESIST!
Robert Gamboa is an advocate and fights for LGBTQ+ rights and equality. He is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board for the City of West Hollywood. He will be riding in theAIDS/LifeCycle 2017 Ride to End AIDS 2017. For more information and to support Robert’s ride, please go to: http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/rgamboa2017