UPDATE: Pam has a new post with more pictures and some video here.
Busy times around here. Although Equality Alabama terms its yearly celebration the Day of Equality, the festivities actually kicked off on Friday night with a party for the event speakers at Parkside Home & Garden in Avondale. If you’ve never been to Parkside, you have missed a real treat. It’s located in a wonderfully rehabbed old building right across the street from Avondale Park. At one time the owner lived on the second floor, but now all the space is devoted to lovely home and garden items in a wonderful ambiance. Great party, great company.
Yesterday I attended Pam Spaulding‘s workshops on “Educating Potential Political Allies” and “Urban v. Suburban v. Rural and Perceptions of Rights & Community” — in other words, trying to build support for equality in a red state that is frequently written off as hopeless by national activist organizations. It is disheartening to see commentary suggesting that more progressive states secede from the South, as if the South were a hopeless monolith of ignorant, barefoot, cousin-marrying rednecks. Hint: it’s not. The Democratic establishment wasn’t too excited about Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy when he first introduced it, but the party is reaping the benefits now. A similar push by national LGBT organizations would likely have similar positive results — if the leadership could take off its collective blinders.
Last night, we feasted and listened to keynote speaker Jake Reitan, founder of the Soulforce Equality Rides. EA also honored an impressive group of people for their work promoting equality. Pam, her wife Kate, Kate’s sister, Zach, and a local couple who are activist friends joined us at our table. It was good to celebrate, and to recognize some significant accomplishments during the past year: Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly lesbian state representative, took her seat in the legislature, and — perhaps because of her presence — the anti-gay legislation that has been a staple of the past few years was nowhere to be seen during the 2007 session. Yay for us!
Pam with the sign directing people to Benny Hinn’s fake heal-ins. I don’t think anyone from the EA event availed themselves of his services.
Pam and Kate with the sign they won in the silent auction (pictures shameless stolen from Pam’s blog; her post is here)
In other weeked activities I missed, I’m told Alabama Arise had a great turnout for its annual meeting. And the Klan group that traveled from Indiana to demonstrate in Athens was met with an even larger group of counter-protesters. So yay for us again!