"Let’s Reach One Million People" Campaign Goes Global
Many people in mainstream society would happily say that the LGBT community has generally gained societal acceptance and no longer faces discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Besides the gay marriage "issue," most Americans are completely ignorant to the fact that inequality is a daily problem that the majority of LGBT individuals face.
According to Joseph Knudson, an LGBT activist, even the government is blind to the many injustices faced by the LGBT community. When Knudson questioned an Oklahoma senator about what changes he planned to make during his term of office to remedy the plight of LGBT individuals, he said he was "completely shocked and unaware that the homosexual community faced any discrimination or inequality at all." Let’s just start with the fact that we stopped referring to ourselves as "homosexual" in the 70’s!
According to Knudson, it is this ignorance that allows the inequality facing the LGBT community to perpetuate and remain unchanged. It was out of this realization that Knudson and other global activists created the "Let’s Reach One Million People LGBTQIA Equality Campaign;" a grassroots movement that aims to achieve social and political equality for LBGT individuals by spreading awareness of LGBT issues and providing information on how these issues could be remedied through group efforts.
The "Let’s Reach One Million People" campaign recognizes that the "big boys in Washington talk the talk, but are taking no action." Because of the lack of governmental initiative surrounding these issues, the organization emphasizes that the best way to bring about social change is not from the top down, but from the ground up. The campaign focuses on the idea that if everyday people work together toward a common cause, drastic social change can be achieved.
Throughout history, this type of grassroots movement has proven successful in bringing about social change for varying minority groups. Because the organization recognizes the power that everyday individuals have when they band together and acknowledges that the first step towards creating social change is making society aware that the problem exists, the organization has created the first ever World Wide March For Civil Rights. On April 21, thousands of LGBT community members and supporters will gather in cities around the world to march and participate in peaceful demonstrations that aim to promote widespread awareness of LGBT issues, and to spread information on how individuals can help work towards social equality. People all over the world will band together and voice that the LGBT community will not be silenced, and is willing to fight for equal rights. The marches will be held in more than 30 cities around the world, and will span numerous countries. These include the United States, the United Kingdom and more notably, countries where it is currently illegal to be gay such as Tanzania, Uganda and Pakistan.
Although originally started in the United States, the organization also acknowledges that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not exclusive to this country, and aims to promote positive social change globally.
The march weekend will start on Friday with the Day of Silence, an annual event in which LGBT members and supporters remain silent to protest the harassment and bullying that many individuals in the community face. Saturday will be the day of the official march. And although all of the marches share a common goal of spreading awareness, gaining public support and creating a sense of solidarity among the LGBT community, the individual "marches" will vary in form from city to city.
Even though the march was the brainchild of the Let’s Reach organization, its actual execution will be left up to local LGBT activists and organizations that have volunteered to host the event in their local cities. The Let’s Reach organization has given these groups almost complete artistic license to individually tailor the march to fit the unique personality of its particular city. Even though the event is referred to as the World Wide Civil Rights "March," cities will be participating in a variety of different ways; including marches, rallies, picnics, parades and festivals. In addition to the 30 plus locations, additional locations will hold peaceful flash mobs to gain notoriety and support for the cause.
Since the main goal of the march is to educate and inform the public, booths will be constructed at many of the march sites that will offer literature and information about the current LGBT issues and provide information on how individuals can become involved in local and national efforts being made to help remedy the situation. The Let’s Reach organization also acknowledges the importance of using civil procedures in bringing about social change, and will be using the march to spread information about how important voting can be to the LGBT cause. The LGBT community is one that is vast in size, and could potentially possess great clout at the voting booths. In order to have as many LGBT voters as possible, voter registration tables will be present at many of the events. The Let’s Reach organization is bipartisan, and does not specifically endorse one candidate, but does endorse the idea that each voter should be informed on the opinion each of the candidates have of the LGBT community. The marches will offer information about the candidates, including information on how the candidates have previously treated the LGBT community. Organizers will urge voters to keep this information in mind while at the polls in November.
Knudson emphasized that it is not too late to organize and host an event, and that if anyone is interested in leading a march in a city that does not currently have one planned for April 21, they would be given the support of the Let’s Reach organization. If a city cannot gain enough support for a full march, Let’s Reach encourages that groups show support by throwing "viewing parties" where individuals gather together to watch the televised marches of other cities, to celebrate the successful organization of a world-wide LBGT demonstration and the huge strides made by the LGBT community. The Let’s Reach organization urges LGBT individuals to support the marches in any way they possibly can, no matter how big or small, because every little step made is still a step in the right direction. As Knudson has said, it is imperative that every LGBT individual participates in this action because "failure to take action now and the failure of those to participate is nothing short of failing our own LGBTQIA communities and denying basic human rights worldwide."