While at the rally, the hundreds in attendance either were taking pictures and/or video of the event, walked around with signs or were passing out literature. I pulled everything I received today and found three postcards for pslweb.org, four small flyers shaped like currency -- two from livingwaters.com and two from hopechapel.org (still cannot figure out why the churches needed to prostelytize at this event).
I also got flyers/pamphlets from antiracistaction.us, plp.org, endthefed.us, coalitionforworldpeace.org, and from three other similar groups. So glad I wore pants with extra large pockets!
During the rally, the most impassioned speakers were Iraq war veterans who, by their very nature, can speak most effectively about the consequences of war. And, the mother of an Iraq war veteran spoke even more fervently as her son suffered severely emotionally and has had problems ever since his return back to the States. I could not help but think of my own mother and how she might have handled the same set of circumstances if it was me or my brother who had come back from war, been met with indifference and suffered needlessly due to inadequate psychological care.
My best guess on attendance is somewhere between 500 and 1000. This was nowhere near the turnout of nearly 10,000 in mid-November last year to protest the passage of Proposition 8; however, the crowd did not lack for passion or strength and we certainly drew attention as we all processed through the streets of Hollywood.
The most significant minutes of today's events occurred shortly after the march toward Hollywood Blvd and La Brea. The march had just turned a corner passing a trio of "Christian" counter-protesters who were shouting through bullhorns to all of us to repent, see the error of our ways, etc.
A Middle Eastern woman just a few years older than I and her child asked me what the counter-protesters were trying to communicate. Having seen similar protests in front of most every Gay Pride parade and festival, I explained that the trio was trying to deliver a message based on fear and hate.
While most of the march participants were retorting with raised middle fingers and equally vitriolic quips, I now respond to these types of "Christians" by loudly saying "God loves you" or "God bless you" or something just as peaceful and positive. She asked if the counter-protesters would be considered Evangelicals or Fundamentalists. I explained that they were neither and comprised of a small ultra-conservative, fear-based faction and the best way to defend ones self against their message was to respond with messages of love and compassion.
She then asked me several times "I do not understand. Are they saying that this is what Jesus would do?" or words to that effect. My prayer is that her and her family understood what I was trying to communicate and, by my responses, can now separate the fear/hate filled "Christianity" from the true message of love, peace and compassion from Christ.
I laughed, chanted, marched, photographed and witnessed a truly unique event today. While the events today will likely do little to change the mindset of those in government who set and carry out our nation's foreign policy, it certainly packed a bigger punch than not having these types of events at all.
I also got a business-card shaped handout from a left-wing blogger at http://leftsolutions.wordpress.com. I wished I had thought to make a few cards of my own to pass out yesterday amongst the protesters, so I'll have to hope that linking to this blogger's site will be another way of getting more of us connected and united.