|Rev. Roland Stringfellow spoke about drawing activists and people of faith together for more understanding.Photo by Rink.
A small but enthusiastic group of activists marked the nine years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 on the evening of Sept. 11 at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro for a Show Tolerance and Not Hate Rally. Coordinator and MC Kelly Hart emotionally began the event as the audience crowded around him in the rapidly fading light. Even a succession of his jokes did not lessen Hartâ€™s intensity; he is the kind of narrowly focused and driven marriage activist that has made it possible for marriage equality to be successful as a mass movement.
Hart is the founder of POZ Activist Network, he is a member of the AIDS Care Planning Council, he was a chapter leader for Marriage Equality, he was on the Pride Board, and he is active in the â€śDo I Look Illegalâ€ť opposition to the Arizona racial profiling law.
The first speaker was Rev. Karen Oliveto from Glide Memorial Methodist Church and the Pacific School of Religion. She is on the Glide ministry team that provides health services, job training, affordable housing, and nearly a million free meals a year. The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Director of Ministerial Outreach from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion spoke next. He works to have political activists join with people of faith to do outreach to misguided religious people to alleviate the demonization of LGBT citizens. Muslims for Progressive Valuesâ€™ and Al-Fatihaâ€™s Jack Fertig spoke with his characteristic sarcastic tone to point out that the fringe Christian pastors such as Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida and Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas help LGBTâ€™s by linking their extremist remarks with the hate speech of religious figures who say they love LGBTâ€™s but condemn same sex coupling and denigrate marriage and job equality. Al-Fatiha is an international organization for LGBT Muslims. And Castro For Allâ€™s Andrea Shorter, who is the Deputy Marriage and Coalitions Director of Equality California, also spoke. She pointed out that the rally was at Harvey Milk Plaza, and that Milk stood for tolerance, diversity, and most of all hope. Shorter is the president of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.
There were discussions later nearby about why more people did not join the throng on Sept. 11 and ENDA rally on Sept. 9, and the statement from many has been that this is a post-activism era, with even the usually most avid rally and protest participants, college students, are not to be seen. They are spotted shopping and online buying and selling, and increasingly getting in touch with their bodies on bicycles and in yoga classes. This is also evident among the mass of LGBTâ€™s who used to show up in large numbers for the various events but are now on Facebook. There also were comments that people feel less safe now on Castro Street, due to recent published reports of horrific crimes and vandalism. The lack of a police presence is the first thing that some tourists say about the area, besides the sewer smell coming from the Walgreens parking lot. The only obvious on-the- street deterrent since the death of the Patrol Specialâ€™s Jane Warner is the armed guard in front of Bank of America, and an occasional patrol car.