'We're everywhere,' marchers say proudly GAY RIGHTS MARCH ON WASHINGTON

April 26, 1993|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- They came to be seen and heard. They arrived from every corner of the country, representing every hue in America's vast palette of colors. And their march down Pennsylvania Avenue reminded those who stood and watched that the parade for acceptance has only just begun.

While the brass bands numbered but a few, the seemingly endless stream of gays and lesbians who walked the route from the Ellipse to the foot of Capitol Hill sang a song for equality and freedom from discrimination, their voices ringing hundreds of thousands strong.

Their comics made them laugh. Their folk singers brought them ballads. Their politicians urged them forward in their respective fights: lifting the ban on gays in the military, adoption rights for gay and lesbian parents, more money for the battle against acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

The day belonged to Americans who believe their sexual orientation should not bar them from housing, jobs or places of worship. And their friends and families joined them on the grassy lawns behind the White House and the streets of Washington to make their views heard.

Here was Dr. Mary Kujawa, a big piece of blue chalk in her hand, drawing an outline around her daughter Kate, lying on a patch of concrete. With the parade not yet begun, mothers must be resourceful with restless children -- no matter what the parent's sexual orientation.

And this 41-year-old lesbian had plenty to keep her busy: Kate and her 3-year-old twin brother, Cameron. "We're here because it's important to be seen," said the Cleveland physician, sporting a purple T-shirt that warned: "Closets are hazardous to your health."

"People don't understand. We're just like they are. We have the same issues: to pay the bills . . . to keep our kids safe."

When the time came, the Kujawas and other gay and lesbian families left the shade of budding trees and took their places in the parade line-up. They pushed strollers stocked with apple juice, diaper bags and Barneys. Their sons and daughters held posters that proclaimed: "I love my Mommas."

They marched, they said, with the hope that their children would enjoy the rights that they, as gays and lesbians, had been denied.

"Our society is getting more diverse all the time, and we need to respect that. We're just one facet of it," said Kevin R. Gogin, a therapist from San Francisco and gay parent of a 4-year-old daughter.

If yesterday's march showed anything, it was the diversity of the gay and lesbian community, from the contingent of military men and women in their patriotic blues and greens to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in their blond wigs and flared skirts. Nearly everyone sported some shade of pink, the color of stickers that proudly proclaimed "I Was Counted" on this day. Lesbians of Asian heritage marched behind African-Americans gays, the deaf before a brass band.

Then came Kate Murray and Al Murphy -- Straight Married Suburban Squares -- amid the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

"We're hanging here with P-FLAG because we wanted to be seen as straight people who are here for the cause," explained Ms. Murray, of Arlington, Va. "I've known a lot of gay people and I've worked with gay people, and they're great. I'm getting tired of hearing all the homophobia."

Marchers strolled, stomped and rollerbladed down Pennsylvania Avenue, waving rainbow-colored flags, to cheers and shouts and applause. It was a day for holding hands and kissing in public without feeling the slightest twinge.

"We're everybody. We're everywhere," said Bill McClaskey, a Baltimore businessman who attended previous gay rights marches in 1979 and 1987. "We're doctors, lawyers, professional people, landscapers. To get together and do this to celebrate our life, it's just amazing. We're looking forward to the year 2000."

Where there were voices of hope, there were ones of doubt, too.

"As long as we're treated as second-class citizens, all the lip service about acceptability is not going to change our lives in any meaningful way," said a student from Dartmouth College who gave her name as S. T. Simi.

But emotions ran the gamut yesterday.

Choruses of outrage -- "How many more have to die before you join the fight?" -- followed witty refrains: "We're here, we're queer and we're not going shopping."

And the mood varied with the message.

"We Came To Do Chelsea's Hair" read the sign in Robert Griffis' hand. A part-time hair dresser from Atlanta, Mr. Griffis said if he had the chance to style the first daughter's long, frizzy mop of hair, he would cut it shorter, give it a '90s look.

"We don't want it straight," he quipped.

As the contingent from Colorado, where voters approved an anti-gay rights amendment last fall, spotted a line of Christian protesters, their voices rose up in a collective chant of "Shame. Shame. Shame." The protesters, each holding 6-foot-high banners, stood behind a line of helmeted police officers and parade marshals with arms linked.

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