Does the size of a crowd matter when trying to make a point that resonates and affects change? There was a great deal of excitement surrounding this year’s National Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington DC -- the first official large scale LGBT March on Washington since 2009.
This year’s event had many moments that created awe and inspiration -- but in the end seemed to lack focus and was much smaller than 1993’s March, which attracted nearly 1 million people.
Crowd size is a hot topic this year thanks to Donald Trump who along with his administration naturally received a large part of the ire and focus of this year’s protest. According to the Washington Blade at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 80,000 participated. There were many from the Wilton Manors/Ft. Lauderdale area who made the trek and participated.
The March kicked off shortly after 10 a.m. in D.C.’s Farragut Square. Different chants ebbed and flowed swelling at times into a crescendo and chorus of “Resist” that echoed throughout the canyons of downtown Washington D.C. Frustrations over the Trump administration’s radical views on governing and policy decisions were palpable.
Many chose the moment as they passed the White House to flip the bird, as snipers stood at attention on the rooftop in the distance. Trump was in New Jersey playing golf.
Other notable chants were “Tiny Hands, Tiny Feet, all he does is Tweet Tweet Tweet, Hey Ho Hey Ho Donald Trump has got to go, and “Lock him up!” Later, there was the Game of Thrones inspired Shame, Shame, Shame, which turned to Shade Shade Shade due to the 93-degree weather as people - myself included- became desperate for a tree to stand beneath along the sidewalks.
The Equality March recognized the one year observation of the Orlando Pulse attack with a moment of silence. Trump obliged the LGBTQ community with a Tweet about the tragedy a day later without ever acknowledging Pride month -- first given an official proclamation by Bill Clinton in 1999.
The vast majority of attendees were gay men and women of all races, Gen Xers and older. The presence of millennials was oddly minimal. There were some children of those who did attend. Supportive Mothers of LGBTQ people lined up at one point giving out free hugs.
As the marchers funneled out of the corridors of downtown and onto the grass of the mall near the Capital Pride Festival participants seemed to not know exactly what was to come next as the large congregation split up on the Mall listening to speakers on stage, or decided to head over a few blocks to the Capital Pride Festival.
The march lacked the numbers of the Women's March in January, which drew a great amount of national attention. The media seemed to cover this event minimally, possibly
because of the recent James Comey testimony, but one had to wonder if the National Equality March for Unity and Pride was promoted properly. Or maybe because gay marriage is now legal.
But all that we have gained could easily slip away. These are urgent times and arguably it should have had a much larger turnout to have made an impact.