Group will hold Queer Kiss-In at DMA, Milk Box at the Cedar Springs Crossroads on Saturday; organizer says group is energized for action
Two months after forming in the wake of Proposition 8 in California, Queer Liberaction is preparing to make its biggest statement yet, according to the founder of the Dallas-based LGBT direct action group.
QL founder Blake Wilkinson said the grassroots organization has attracted a core following of about 30 people since its first public demonstration in late November. On each of the last two weekends, QL has hosted Milk Box, a sidewalk community forum on the Cedar Springs strip.
On Saturday, Feb. 7, QL plans a Queer Kiss-In outside the Dallas Museum of Art, followed by another Milk Box later that afternoon, Wilkinson said. The events will serve as QL’s final tune-ups for a Freedom to Marry Day demonstration that’s set for Thursday, Feb, 12 at the Dallas County Clerk’s Office, in which participants will request same-sex marriage licenses.
"The first several ones were just kind of practice," Wilkinson said of the group’s demonstrations. "There’s a solid group of people who are energized and really excited about all this stuff, and we’ve been organizing for Freedom to Marry Day for a while, and I think we’ll get a decent response."
Wilkinson said he’s pleased with the response the group has gotten thus far, especially given that Dallas’ LGBT community has a reputation for being apathetic.
"For Dallas, we’re doing incredible, I think," Wilkinson said. "It’s just trying to build a sizeable movement, and that takes time."
Events like the Queer Kiss-In, in which same-sex couples will engage in public displays of affection, are designed to attract the attention of both the LGBT community and the general public, Wilkinson said. The Kiss-In will begin at noon near Ross Avenue and Harwood Street.
"It’s just a way to be visible, and that’s one of Queer Liberaction’s big things, being visible is so important, and that’s why we chose the location because it’s right by the King Tut exhibit on a weekend," Wilkinson said. "We have just as much right to display our affection in public as everybody else."
Wilkinson said he isn’t worried about offending those who may witness the Kiss-In.
"Maybe some straight guys might not like to see other guys kiss," he said. "I think the vast majority of people downtown that day will see a very fun, loving event in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and kind of take away that message."
On National Freedom to Marry Day, an unofficial holiday to promote same-sex marriage that began in 1999, QL and Join The Impact will team up beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the historical plaza outside the Records Building, 509 Main St.
The event will feature miniature "same-sex wedding ceremonies," complete with a limousine, a flower bouquet toss, wedding dresses, tuxedos, a rice toss and bubbles.
After the ceremonies, the couples will go inside the Clerk’s Office to request marriage licenses.
According to a press release from QL, if the licenses are denied, the groups will stage a sit-in and try to block straight couples from obtaining marriage licenses.
Wilkinson said this week that details of the sit-in haven’t been finalized, but he stressed that those who want to participate in the demonstration shouldn’t be worried about getting arrested if they don’t want to.
"I think those who are willing to get arrested can have that opportunity," he said. "We’ll have several options on the table, but we’ll probably finally decide on the day of."
Dallas County Clerk John Warren said this week that if demonstrators interfere with the official business of his office, they’ll be asked to leave, and if they refuse, they’ll be arrested.
Warren also said he has no choice but to deny the same-sex marriage licenses: "I don’t make the laws; I only follow them."
Wilkinson said although the demonstration isn’t specifically targeting Warren, the clerk is part of a system that is denying civil rights to the LGBT community.
"He’s upholding bigoted laws," Wilkinson said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 6, 2009.