Monday, June 28, 2010

Scenes from Roanoke Equality's 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality

What a Big Gay Weekend we had in the Star City! The 2nd Annual Rally for GLBT Equality took place at Elmwood Park took place in downtown Roanoke on Saturday. I had the honor of playing host to some incredible entertainers and A-List local dignitaries. (I was also the photographer, which is why I don't appear in any of the pics.)
Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (above) gave an amazing speech about the contributions of Roanoke GLBT Community and talked about the City's gay-inclusive non-discrimination hiring policy. Also on hand was Roanoke's Goodwill Ambassador, Mrs. Pearl Fu, (seated above) Executive Director and founder of Local Colors, Roanoke's annual festival celebrating the city's multicultural heritage with food and music.
A small crowd braved the 90 degree heat to kick back and enjoy some top notch entertainment provided by transgender singer/songwriter Georgie Jessup, who totally blew away the crowd, even drawing in some of the folks from the Motor City Madness car show which was also taking place downtown.

Also taking place over the weekend was the hugely successful Pride in the Arts International GLBT Film Festival, organized and hosted by Len Rogers, founder of the Stonewall Society, an organization dedicated to promoting GLBT artists and entertainers. Len (pictured top, left) has been hugely supportive of Roanoke Equality and arranged for Georgie's appearance. Thanks, Len! We couldn't have done it without you!
Mara Robbins, of the Floyd County chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) talked about the need for more outreach and support of GBLT kids in our schools. She was accompanied by her incredibly talented daughter, Kyla Ross, who treated the crowd to a moving rendition of Rainbow Connection.

Kyla Ross (right) and Mara Robbins (left)

Rev. Joe Cobb, of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge, pictured above with Molly McClintock, of the Roanoke Pride Committee and Equality Virginia (above, center) and her partner, shared his moving personal story of coming to Roanoke, expecting hostility and homophobia. Instead, Rev. Joe found a warm, welcoming community and ultimately met his partner. The couple now have two children.

Local singer, Sidney Vaught is shown here taking a break after his amazing performance. Sidney has also been incredibly supportive of Roanoke Equality and secured the voter registration forms for us. We actually did register a few new voters. We also gathered several signatures for our petition to Sen. Mark Warner to push forward with Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal. By the way, the mayor loved your t-shirt, Sid, joking that he didn't have a very good track record with marriage and perhaps somebody should have voted on it for him.

Finally, my good friend and Roanoke Equality co-founder, Frank House spoke very eloquently about about the accomplishments of the GBLT community and how much work there is still left to be done. 
We did manage to get some air time in the evening news Saturday, on  Roanoke's WDBJ-7, that's me in the back. Unfortunately, they didn't post the video on their site. It's just as well, just as I was preparing for my interview, the camera's batteries died. So much for my big close up. I understand that Len Rogers took some video. I'll try to secure a copy for posting here. 
I want to thank everybody who took part in our event, especially all of those who helped out behind the scenes to pull this off, including, Len Rogers, Frank House, Richard Sifton, Sidney Vaught, Mara Robbins, Kyla Ross, Mayor David Bowers, Mrs. Pearl Fu, Rev. Joe Cobb, and our special musical guest, who traveled all the way from Baltimore, Md. to perform at our rally free of charge, Ms. Georgie Jessup.

I want to express a very special thanks to my partner of ten years, Paul, for being so wonderful and supportive as I go tilting at windmills. I love you, baby! 

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1 comment:

  1. I want to thank everyone who was involved with, participated in, or attended this event Saturday. Steve Publicover did most all of the work organizing etc etc and he is a huge asset to our GLBT community ! For those of you who have passion in activism, or in the whole idea of helping to make our community stronger etc etc...we need and would welcome your help wholeheartedly....please join us !!


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