Queers out in force for antiwar march
by Liz Highleyman
LGBT activists joined tens of thousands of other demonstrators for last Saturday's antiwar march in San Francisco, the largest since the worldwide protests in February 2003 prior to the invasion of Iraq.
"I'm out here because the choir needs to hear each other," said a Castro resident who gave her name only as J.D. "Every day we're told that we don't exist. Well, that's a lie like everything else. We have to combat that lie with our presence."
Crowd estimates ranged from 20,000 to 50,000. Dolores Park was full when the march took off at noon; by the time the head of the procession reached Market Street, the tail end had not yet left the park. The march ended about 2 p.m. with a rally at Jefferson Square Park in the Western Addition.
The massive protest, sponsored by International ANSWER, brought out a diverse spectrum of Bay Area residents, including student, labor, veterans, religious, socialist, and women's groups.
The colorful LGBT contingent included members of Queers for Peace and Justice, QUIT/Queers for Palestine, and Pride at Work.
Queer pioneer John Burnside and his caregiver, Jerry the Faerie, were among the several dozen activists marching with the contingent.
"If it's not one war, it's another," Jerry said. "I'm always marching for peace."
Amid a climate of growing disapproval of the Bush administration's foreign policy and widespread dismay over the government's dismal response following Hurricane Katrina, the antiwar movement has shown signs of revitalization.
"It's becoming obvious even to the mainstream that the U.S. government doesn't care about people's lives," said Kate Raphael of QUIT.
A group of about 60 anarchists began a simultaneous demonstration at 16th and Mission streets, meeting up with the main march on Dolores Street. Police were out in force, but the protest remained free of violence. About 20 activists were arrested late in the afternoon while attempting to join the festival following the Love Parade, a rave event taking place at Civic Center Plaza.
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C. last Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Ellipse before marching to the White House in a protest jointly organized by ANSWER and United For Peace and Justice. Crowd size estimates ranged from 300,000 by organizers to 100,000 by D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey. On Monday, September 26, some 200 protesters, including military mother Cindy Sheehan of Vacaville, were arrested at a non-violent civil disobedience action, sitting in front of the White House gates.