MEET IN THE MIDDLE – A ROUSING, PASSIONATE SUCCESS



(THE ITINERARY OF THE RALLY AS WRITTEN BELOW IS NOT MEANT TO BE A COMPLETE REPRESENTATION OF SPEAKERS AND ENTERTAINERS WHO APPEARED. GAY FRESNO IS CURRENTLY PROCESSING VIDEO FROM THE DAY’S EVENTS AND WILL MAKE IT AVAILABLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE ON OUR YOUTUBE PAGE. THE VIDEOS, WHEN COMPLETE, WILL REPRESENT THE COMPLETE RALLY PROGRAM FROM MEET IN THE MIDDLE.)

(Click on images to enlarge. Photos courtesy Chris Jarvis)

Image MEET IN THE MIDDLE FINALLY ARRIVED ON SATURDAY, MAY 30TH, 2009 IN FRESNO, CALIFORNIA.THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FROM THE CENTRAL VALLEY AND ALL OVER THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA GATHERED IN SUPPORT OF THE RALLY, A DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE RECENT CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT DECISION TO UPHOLD CALIFORNIA PROPOSTION 8, WHICH STRIPPED LGBT AMERICANS IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA OF THE LEGAL RIGHT TO SAME SEX MARRIAGE, WHICH WAS GRANTED IN 2008 BY THE SAME CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT, WHO RULED THE DENIAL WAS UN-CONSTITUTIONAL.

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THE DAY STARTED EARLY IN SELMA, CALIFORNIA, WITH A PRESS CONFERENCE AND THE START OF A MARCH FROM SELMA TO FRESNO. THE MARCH WAS MEANT TO CALL TO MIND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MARCHES IN 1965 FROM SELMA, ALABAMA TO MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, THE CULMINATION OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT OF THE 1960’S. THE MARCHERS WERE ENERGETIC AND STRONG, AND CAME INTO FRESNO WAVING FLAGS AND SHOUTING JOYFULLY. THEY CONGREGATED AT THE "WELCOME TO FRESNO" SIGN, BEING JOINED BY ANOTHER GROUP, WHO THEN COMPLETED THE MARCH TO FRESNO CITY HALL, THE SITE OF THE MEET IN THE MIDDLE RALLY.




WITH THOUSANDS IN ATTENDANCE, THE CROWD ERUPTED AS THE MARCHERS ARRIVED, A MASS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS UNITED IN THEIR PASSION AGAINST CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 8 AND THE SUPREME COURT WHICH UPHELD IT.

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THE RALLY BEGAN IMMEDIATELY AND FEATURED MANY SPEAKERS, REPRESENTING MANY GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEVOTED TO THE PROTEST AGAINST THE CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS THAT ARE THE RESULT OF AN UNCHECKED MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIA CITIZENS, AS WELL AS INDIVIDUALS STEPPING FORWARD TO PROVIDE SUPPORT.

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ENTERTAINMENT INCLUDED THE SAN FRANCISCO AND FRESNO GAY MEN’S CHORUS, A SONG BY ALIFAH, AND A RE-WRITTEN VERSION OF "MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA" TITLED "MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO FRESNO".

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EVEN AT 4 PLUS HOURS, THE THOUSANDS GATHERED IN FRONT OF FRESNO CITY HALL SUSTAINED THEMSELVES THROUGH THE AFTERNOON, WITH THE 90 PLUS DEGREES BEARING DOWN ON THEM.

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CELEBRITY SPEAKERS INCLUDED ERIC MCCORMACK (WILL & GRACE), MAX MUTCHNICK (CREATOR, "WILL & GRACE"), T.R. KNIGHT (GRAY’S ANATOMY), KYAN DOUGLAS (QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY), MICHELLE CLUNIE (QUEER AS FOLK) AND DUSTIN LANCE BLACK (SCREENWRITER – "MILK"). CHARLIZE THERON WAS ALSO AT THE RALLY, BUT REMAINED IN THE BACKGROUND.

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THE MILITARY’S "DON’T ASK DON’T TELL" POLICY WAS HIGHLIGHTED BY LT. DANIEL CHOI (RECENTLY DISCHARGED) AND LAYNE SORES (US ARMY VETERAN). THE FAITH COMMUNITY’S SPEAKERS INCLUDED FATHER GEOFF FARROW (DISMISSED FROM FRESNO CATHOLIC DIOCESE FOR DENOUNCING PROP 8), REVEREND ERIC LEE AND RABBI DENISE EGER.

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LOCAL SPEAKERS INCLUDED JEFF ROBINSON (COMMUNITY LINK), ELLIS VANCE, JERRY THURSTON AND DIANE BLAIR (S.A.F.E.), AS WELL AS YOUTH LEADERS FROM GSA AND VARIOUS YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS.

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ACTIVISTS SPEAKING INCLUDED ROBIN TYLER (ACTIVIST AND ORIGINAL CHALLENGER TO THE BAN ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE IN 2004), CHRISTINE CHAVEZ AND MOLLY MCKAY (MARRIAGE EQUALITY) WHO LED THE CROWD IN A ROUSING, RE-WRITTEN VERSION OF QUEEN’S "WE WILL ROCK YOU" CALLED "WE WILL REPEAL PROP 8"

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THE RALLY CLOSED WITH SPEECHES FROM RICK JACOBS (COURAGE CAMPAIGN), ROBIN MCGEHEE (MITM ORGANIZER & LOCAL ACTIVIST) AND CLEVE JONES (ACTIVIST AND CREATOR OF THE AIDS QUILT), WHO ANNOUNCED A MARCH IN WASHINGTON D.C. IN OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR, AND A MOVEMENT TO TAKE THIS BATTLE TO THE FEDERAL LEVEL AND THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

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TEARS, LAUGHTER, PASSION AND ANGER MOVED THROUGH THE CROWD AT THE RALLY ON SATURDAY. MEET IN THE MIDDLE WAS A ROUSING, INSPIRATIONAL SUCCESS. IT REMINDED US HOW STRONG AND UNITED WE ARE IN TERMS OF EVENTUALLY ACHIEVING EQUALITY AS LGBT AMERICANS. THERE IS AN END TO THIS BATTLE AND WE, NOT THEY, WILL BE THE VICTORS.  

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