Mark Segal | Philadelphia Gay News
Courtesy National LGBT Media Association
Heads up, LGBT America: Did you know that there is about to be a national Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on June 11? Chances are you may not, since the people/group “organizing” it seem to have forgotten a simple rule when putting together a public demonstration: Invite the public and then communicate the facts so people will know the importance of the event, support its goals and know where, when and what to expect.
The group organizing this has failed, but local individuals and groups have come to the rescue; bravo to them. Here are some facts to consider.
This march grew out of the LGBT outrage and resistance to President Donald Trump. That’s admirable, but taking on a national task with little experience takes a lot of time and work. It also takes incredible knowledge, and in that regard, we appreciate the organizers’ commitment. But there comes a time when you’re in over your head, and you need to request the assistance of those most affected by your event.
In this case, that would be the city that you’ve announced is hosting the event, and the entire national LGBT community, which could in part be reached by outreach to national media.
So I decided to call around to my friends in D.C. and those in LGBT media and see what’s up with the national march, slated for a little over a week from now.
Most editors I contacted around the country hadn’t received as much as a press release about the event. Meaning, to write about the march, they had to hunt down organizers.
From a source, I discovered that the organizers had just sent out a request for corporate sponsors.
Getting a corporation to react in three weeks is a tough haul. Those funds would be used for the rally after a march starting at the White House. But what I discovered most was a lack of interest.
Here’s an example from Dallas Voice staff writer David Taffet, who said a local store owner in Texas was organizing a group to attend and had heard from 40-50 participants: “I’m sure some others are just going on their own, but some of those [the store owner] spoke to didn’t have plane tickets yet. To compare, for the 1993 march, we had more than 1,000 who marched together. We know that number because of the number of Dallas signs we made up for that march — 500. We gave one to every two people and ran out.”
Tracy Bain of Chicago’s Windy City Times voiced what many of us in the media feel: “I don’t have a sense it will be massive, but I know a few folks who may go.”
A Philly group is renting a bus under the moniker “Drag Me to the March,” with a drag show featured on the bus.
The publisher of New York’s GayCityNews tells me no activist group there he knows of is engaged. And if you look on the official website or Facebook page, you’ll be treated to little information, with the exception of a list of cities that have notified organizers they have buses going to the march — 15, to be exact — and most unfilled.
But then there’s another page that lists “solidarity” events happening the same day in cities around the world — and here lies the silver lining, and an answer: Most of the cities listed on this page have local people involved in organizing local events. And as the saying goes, “All politics are local.”
This is the success of the not-so-national march, since it will continue the enthusiasm on a local level and actually create change.
For those of you who make it to D.C., organizers recently released a list of speakers. But most of us in media didn’t get it. In fact, press releases just went up on the website on May 26.
On the other hand, the local groups as well as the LGBT-organized structures of D.C. are doing outreach and will be the heroes of June 11.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, And Then I Danced, is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller. You can follow him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at Twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 2, 2017.