Some longtime LGBT organizers have wondered how long the outrage over Prop 8 can be sustained, especially as the anger turns more and more inward, eviscerating our own.
The new Los Angeles-based, youth-oriented group Equal Roots is determined not to let that happen. Shocked by the passage of Prop 8 and embarrassed by their own complacency, the 20-something friends and co-founders worked hard to represent LA in Saturday's national Join The Impact rally to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) - roughly 750 people showed up in West Hollywood Park for speeches and the inspired live version of gay composer Marc Shaiman's online ditty - "Prop 8:The Musical" - this one featuring Wilson Cruz as Jesus.
The event, called "The Resolution," included an action fair "designed to strengthen the new coalition of grassroots activists forged in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, effectively plot strategy for the future, and to urge the repeal" of DOMA.
Equal Roots co-founder Sara Pollaro said:
"We are also calling for an immediate repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act," said. "President-Elect Obama has said it has to go. Former GOP Congressman Bob Barr, who wrote the law, says it has to go. And we say it's got to go."
Co-founder Matt Palazzolo said:
"Today in Los Angeles, and across the State of California, the LGBT community is united and engaged like never before. We're coming together, strategizing, and taking action to secure full equality for our community here in California, and, ultimately, across the nation."
Maybe it's their youthful exuberance, or their genuine respect for others, their good-natured smarts (they love "data"), or their concerted efforts to be authentically inclusive - but it seems everyone who comes into contact with Equal Roots want them to succeed. Helping produce the five hour-plus event were the city of West Hollywood", Christopher Street West (the LA Pride organization), Pride Radio and a slew of LGBT and straight advocacy groups - such as the Courage Campaign (founder Rick Jacobs was on hand with Torie Osborn), Love, Honor, Cherish, Marriage Equality USA, Freedom-Action-Inclusion Rights" (F.A.I.R.) and WhiteKnot.org. These groups and others provided tables for the 4-hour "action fair"- which included signing postcards and petitions to send to Barack Obama and making traditional Japanese Origami wedding cranes - often a symbol of peace - with messages inside.
Artist Shepard Fairey - whose posters of Obama became collector's items - created a special "Defend Equality - Love Unites" poster for the group, with a hundred or so originals expected to be auctioned off later to help support the effort. Action fair attendees made "Defend Equality" button pins.
Even their notion of "inclusivity" is expansive - with people of color, people of varying ages, skills and sexual orientations - but also artists.
Zachary Barton, a straight teaching artist with Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, who played the Allison Janney character in the Equal Roots' live version of "Prop 8:The Musical" said later that "teaching theatre leads to community organizing," especially how to act improvizationally and with an ensemble troupe.
Before the short speeches - which preceded the skit - Equal Roots co-founder Chris Smith (whose father John worked on the action fair) asked everyone in the audience to take out their cell phones and immediately text five friends and ask them to Google "fight DOMA" so they can find out about the repeal effort. Later Chris said that he is working on a business plan and data tracking mechanisms for the group to ensure its survival beyond the California Supreme Court's decision of the validity of Prop 8, expected this summer.
"We are not just about opinions. We want to mesh data and opinions and come up with the greater truth."
In his short remarks before the enthusiastic crowd, the fourth co-founder of Equal Roots, Mike Ai, ticked off the number of campaign promises Obama made to the LGBT community and told the crowd to tell Obama to "live up to your promises." And he reminded the many new activists that during this time of year, people make so many resolutions.
"Keep this one! Resolve to act! Never become complacent about LGBT equality!"
Other speakers included longtime activist Robin Tyler - who talked about the importance of street activism and supporting the re-election bids of the California Supreme Court Justices if they invalidate Prop 8; openly gay West Hollywood Mayor Jeff Prang, who talked about his own marriage and gave kudos to the unconventional Attorney General Jerry Brown who filed a brief saying Prop 8 was unconstitutional and he wouldn't defend it; radio talk show host Cary Harrison, who talked about keeping an eye of the big picture of human rights; and bisexual Lilliana Perez, who sits on the board of the LGBT/HIV/AIDS Latino group Bienestar and works with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who talked about the importance of fighting for transgenders and how marriage equality and ending DOMA matters to LGBT undocumented workers.
And then came "Prop 8: The Musical" (cast list below).
First up - happy LGBT people singing "It's a brand new bright Obama day...Nothing can go wrong."
Ah, not so fast, say the religious right. "Time to spread some hate...Proposition 8...They'll teach kids about sodomy..."
The LGBTs react: Say what?
Into the fray pops Jesus Christ, who points out that the Bible says "a lot of things" - such as that shrimp cocktails are an "abomination," too.
Jesus says, "It seems to me, you pick and choose so please choose love instead of hate... Besides your nation was built on separation of church and state."
Jesus departs and another man points out how much money same sex marriage can make and everyone agrees that "gay marriage will save the economy."
Peter Paige thanked everyone for coming.
After the show, Darryl said:
"Putting on the show felt like community theater, working with actors with varying degrees of experience. But it was good to make fun of a difficult situation. And now we're making strides."
Among the 750 participants were married dads Richard Baughn and Tommy Woelfel with their two 5 month old sons, Aiden and Austin. The couple have been together for 7 years and were married on July 19.
Ashley Love - who is now exploring her own entertainment talent through YouTube. Trans Forming Media was also excited about the skit.
As the only trans-woman in the musical, I was proud to represent the transgender community. It's amazing to see how comedy can change hearts and minds."
The cast for "Prop 8: The Musical" -
• Wilson Cruz (Jesus)
• Alec Mapa,
• Peter Paige
• Doug Spearman
• Darryl Stevens
• Tony Tripoli (Neil Patrick Harris)
• Bruce Daniels
• JB Guhman (from the original cast)
• Matt Valle
• Byron Jones
• Willam (dq)
• Ashley Love
• Justine Woodford
• Margaret Shoop
• JT Chestnut ("Obama nation!")
• Zac Barton