Tabling with Population Connection Action Fund at DC’s Capital Pride two weekends ago was an experience. On June 9th, ten staff members and community volunteers faced the clouds and rain, asking for signatures on a petition denouncing Trump’s horrid Global Gag Rule.
“Do you want to help fight Trump’s Global Gag Rule?”
For every person who stared at me blankly or politely declined, I got three more emphatic signers (542 total), very strong statements of support, and requests for more information about the Gag Rule and our campaign to end it. When the drizzle finally died down, a rainbow-clad crowd had spilled into the streets – and the energy was infectious. By the time I was trying to leave for a lunch break, three lines of festivalgoers had gathered around our table, maybe lured there by free water bottles and stickers but staying for the prospect of helping fight for the reproductive rights of people around the world.
Every signature represented a win, but the petitions were immediately collected into a bundle and packed away in a box. What really stuck with me were the people I met while tabling. As a straight cis ally, my role here would be to listen to others, and in that role, I heard a lot of stories.
A recently-graduated high school student who identified as bi approached us, talking about how thankful she was to be at a festival that celebrated her identity and to finally be done attending a high school that tried to suppress LGBTQ+ individuals. We congratulated her on graduating and praised her for celebrating herself proudly. She walked away with a smile on her face.
Two young kids came up to our table together and listened to my description of the Global Gag Rule and how they could fight it. They asked if they were too young to sign the petition. I said no, that they could fill out whatever they were comfortable with. Giggling over the fact that they could not remember their phone numbers, they signed the petition and thanked me before taking some stickers to go.
Another student signed the petition and reached for a free tote bag before reconsidering and pulling away, saying that they could not take one in case their father found out that they were attending Pride.
Whatever people’s reasons were for coming up to our table, I hope they left better-informed about how Trump’s Global Gag Rule hurts LGBTQ+ people around the world. I hope they’re proud for having done something to stop it, and proud for being perfectly unique individuals worth celebrating. To everyone who talked to us: Thank you! Thank you for signing our petition, thank you for staying to learn about our work, and thank you for helping make my first Pride experience an unforgettable one.