Thursday, May 23, 2013

Out4Immigration Marches in Long Beach Pride

by Ryan Johnson

We marched just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to keep us out of the immigration reform bill. Now, more than ever, all who are affected by this issue, need to come out to events like this one to show that we matter.

On Sunday, May 19, in Long Beach, California, there were seven of us marching down to raise awareness about discrimination against same-sex binational couples. I had originally intended simply to march with the contingent, but when I found out that no one was organizing, I stepped in to make it happen. 
It was a big challenge recruiting people to participate, despite the large crowds that came out for the parade. After contacting some LGBT organizations in the Orange County and Long Beach areas, and posting on social networks, I had to get so grassroots that I begged my family to come out and march with me. Luckily, we were joined by Bob and Orlando, two long-time Out4Immigration volunteers, who have been struggling within the system to stay together for 21 years. Orlando recently got US citizenship, and we’re all very happy for them. 
We arrived at 9:30am, found our line up location, and waited for the parade to begin. Bob had this to say:
The day started out a bit cloudy but by the time the parade started the sun was shining, so we knew it was going to be a great march. Now, Orlando and I have marched in a number of pride events including those in West Hollywood, Palm Springs and Long Beach. We've done the beach event at least four times but this one was definitely the best. The crowds raved as we passed by with a lot of people high fiving. When it was all over we wanted to go back and do it again. I think our cause resonated with our compatriots. And we made some new friends with Ryan's family and his partner Louis. 
The response from the crowd was definitely appreciated. Once people read our banner, they would erupt in loud cheers of support. My partner was busy taking pictures of us and the crowds. He mentioned that my sister and her new husband were especially popular among the crowds.

This was the first Pride event my mother has ever attended, and her first experience was to march it! She enjoyed the music, the colorful people, and the roaring masses. It was also the first Pride event for my new brother-in-law.  He was a bit tired in the morning, but the crowds really enlivened him with their interest in his physique stickers! 
We were all impressed that despite our contingent’s small size, the spectators reassured us that our presence was valued. As we turned the corner and left the crowds behind, we rolled up the banner, removed the stickers from our bodies, and congratulated each other for a march well done. The support is there - so I encourage you to take role in organizing a contingent for your local Pride parade. After the events of this week, we need to make ourselves visible at every opportunity.

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