Many Marylanders cite mixed feelings, motives GAY RIGHTS MARCH ON WASHINGTON

April 26, 1993|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- For Matthew Roberts, one of thousands of Marylanders who attended the gay rights March on Washington yesterday, participation in the event was a simple matter.

"I'm here because I love my two moms," said the 13-year-old from Baltimore.

The boy was accompanied by his biological mother, Jennifer Roberts, an insurance saleswoman who was married for 14 years, and the other woman in his life: his mother's partner, Randee Klatsky, who teaches AIDS awareness at the Health Education Resource Center in Baltimore.

But not all Marylanders could so easily identify their reasons for marching. Many spoke of mixed emotions as they walked streets crowded with people beating drums, waving the rainbow-colored flags that are symbols of gay and lesbian rights and wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the triangular fuschia logo of the march.

Some said they came for political and personal empowerment.

"I came to be counted, not just for political reasons but also for personal reasons," said Dave Imre, a Baltimore marketing consultant. "I am here for myself. It's an affirmation. We're just regular people, but right now, a million of them. It feels really good."

Others, however, said they marched because they had lost lovers or friends to AIDS, because they had been discriminated against or because they had lost jobs due to their sexual orientation.

"I am here because I was discharged from the Navy," said James Huber, a nurse's assistant from Odenton. "I just told my family I was gay a few months ago. They think I'm in a phase. My father won't see me or talk to me."

Still others, like John, a 47-year-old computer programmer who declined to give his last name because not everyone in his family knew he was gay, said they marched to prove a point. "Gays are not aliens from outer space," he said.

Spirits were high as about a thousand people marched behind a large purple banner that proclaimed Maryland as their home.

"Today is a time to be up and to be hopeful because every time we get together our numbers are higher," said Mark Thompson, who lives in Baltimore but doesn't work because he has AIDS.

Other Marylanders marched with separate groups such as the national chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or the New Way Ministry, a Mount Rainier organization of Catholic priests, nuns and lay people that promotes civil rights for gays and lesbians.

The gay rights' march was endorsed locally by a cross-section of organizations and people, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke; John Waters, the movie director; Baltimore's chapter of the National Organization for Women, People With Aids Coalition, several student alliances, AIDS Action Baltimore, and the Baltimore-based Health Education Resource Center.

Hundreds of Maryland banners or signs were visible, including one from the 31st Street Bookstore and one that read "Mayor Schmoke's Task Force on Gay and Lesbian Issues."

Louise Kelley, a member of the task force, said: "It's nice to be able to carry the mayor's name into the march. He endorsed the march, so I'll endorse him."

Some Marylanders, like Matthew Roberts and his two mothers, took advantage of the sunny weather and packed sunscreen and a picnic lunch, making the day a family event.

Stephen Kuttner, a graphic artist from Gaithersburg, arrived in Washington with his own support group.

The 28-year-old spent the weekend here with his companion, Tim Mason, who is a member of the Maryland organizing committee for the march.

The two were met early yesterday morning by Mr. Kuttner's mother, Ursula Rochman Taub, a financial consultant from Silver Spring, and his stepfather, Morton Rochman, a manufacturer's representative. His sister, Elena Rochman, a freshman at the University of Maryland, also drove in from College Park, and a second cousin flew in from Hamburg, Germany, in time for the march.

It's a big change, Mr. Kuttner says, from the day he told his mother he was gay and she wanted to know if it was something she had done. "Coming out was hard because society tells you that it's shameful to be gay. You are supposed to grow up and marry someone of the opposite sex," said Mr. Kuttner, who "married" Mr. Mason Saturday at the mass same-sex wedding held in downtown Washington.

"There's a celebration going on today, as well as a demonstration, to show how we feel and to let people know that it's OK to be gay," he said.

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