Activists organizing for massive April actions

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Activists are organizing on Facebook -- the Let's Reach 1 Million People page -- for Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights Marches on April 21. – Photo: Courtesy

Activist Joe Knudson looks at the calendar for April and sees "a perfect trifecta" for protesters.

A three-day weekend that month includes the Day of Silence on April 20, the Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights Marches on April 21 and Earth Day actions on April 22.

The most established of the three campaigns, Earth Day marks its 42nd anniversary this year. The Earth Day Network is hoping to mobilize a billion people for "a billion acts of green" that Saturday and throughout the weekend.

The Day of Silence, sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, dates to 1996. The national day of action involves students and educators taking a vow of silence to illustrate the effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Adult allies in the campaign participate in after-school forums on bullying, safe schools and coming out, as well as write letters to former school principals and teachers about their experience as students.

Still coming together are plans for the first Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights Marches.

Knudson is chair and spokesperson for the international organizing committee. Other organizers include Jonathan Wolfman, James Vivian, Arturo Schultz, Marc Holcomb, Jesse D. Greer, Spencer Aiello and Isidro Gonzales.

Their statement of intent reads, "This is grassroots organizing of hungry, aggressive and eager LGBT and LGBT-friendly activists, advocates and all other allies worldwide, working at planning and organizing various marches, after parties, watch parties, etc., … with the trust and hope that … human rights organizations worldwide will put all egos aside and come together in unity for this historic event."

The committee is encouraging people to organize at the local, grassroots level to build an international effort – a model that was hugely successful for clean energy, no-drilling protesters who carried out the 2011 and 2010 Hands Across the Sand demonstrations.

Much of the organizing is taking place on Facebook in the Let's Reach 1 Million People Campaign group.

Already, plans for marches are being made in Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati; Chicago; Atlanta; New York City; Albany, N.Y.; Oklahoma City; Portland, Ore.; and Hampton, Va. Outside the United States, march sites include Pakistan and the Philippines.

"The window of opportunity worldwide is about as far open as it will ever be … with the earlier speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in addition to actions at the United Nations," Knudson said. "The LGBT communities worldwide must continue this drive and build on this momentum in advancing our chances for basic human rights worldwide."

LGBT march organizers are not working directly with the Earth Day Network, but Knudson said activists recognize a synergy. March organizers observed that it is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, but also 42 years since the first gay Pride parade took place.

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