Since he was a teen, Stephen Bunting has had an on again, off again relationship with politics and political rallies. But with Trump in the Oval Office, Bunting’s participation in politics is definitely on again.
“This latest political climate and what the president has been doing has gotten me off my feet and more active,” Bunting said.
Recently, he’s been to two rallies in Fort Lauderdale, the People’s March for Climate, and the March for Science, and he plans on attending a third – the Equality Rally for Unity and Pride Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, June 11 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Huizenga Plaza, 1 E Las Olas Blvd. The Fort Lauderdale rally is being organized in solidarity with the national Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C. on the same day.
Bunting’s not sure if he’s going to bring a sign with him to the next rally but, if he does, it may be similar to the “gaslighting” one he brought to the March for Science in April. Gaslighting is when someone is manipulated into questioning their own sanity and reality.
The Fort Lauderdale version of the Equality Rally is being planned by various groups, including the organizers of Wilton Manors Stonewall, Our Fund, and Equality Florida.
Organizers hope to show the Trump administration that a lot of Americans believe in and celebrate diversity and equal rights for all Americans. The LGBT community, the black community, Muslims, women, teachers, those with HIV/AIDS, religious groups and any other intersecting groups and causes are encouraged and welcomed to attend.
“The purpose of it is to have everyone in South Florida, whichever cultural background you come from . . . to celebrate their diversity,” said Anthony Cedeño, communications associate for Our Fund. He estimated that right now about 1,000 to 2,000 people will attend the rally but he expects that number to grow as time goes on.
Row Iliescu, South Florida development director for Equality Florida, and the architect behind the rally, thinks it could be a lot more. “If we get 10,000, I’d be amazed but not surprised. It’s just growing and growing and growing. People have been activated more than ever before.”
She cited the House vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on May 4, and the Trump administration’s removal of guidelines for schools regarding transgender bathroom use as two issues that have gotten people angry. “I feel people are up in arms and looking for a place to focus their energies.”
But her first thought was to do something to mark the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. That, and this year’s Wilton Manors Stonewall Festival are both occurring very close to each other. “I realized that all of this was coming together at the same time. We already have a very close-knit community. So I reached out [to other organizations] and said ‘let’s get ahead of this.’ Several things just came together at once.”
A public planning meeting for the rally will be held on Monday, May 22 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.