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Rallying in the rain

Unitarian Universalists rallied for LGBT rights in Charlotte.
By Michelle Bates Deakin
Fall 2011 8.15.11

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SSL banner became a canopy (Nancy Pierce)

Unitarian Universalists turned a “Standing on the Side of Love” banner into a canopy for Theresa Soto as rain fell. (Nancy Pierce)

Love rained down on the streets of Charlotte as 600 people marched from the General Assembly convention center to Marshall Park on a Saturday afternoon in June to rally for rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Heavy rain also came down, bringing the rally to a hasty end.

The march began in the sunshine, with people streaming from the convention center in yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” T-shirts. Songs broke out along the way, with sections of the crowd singing “This Little Light of Mine” and “We Are a Gentle Angry People.”

People sat on the hillside and along the edges of the plaza to listen to local, national, and international clergy and gay rights leaders speak out for equal rights for LGBT people. The Rev. Mark Kiyimba, minister of the UU Church of Kampala, Uganda, told the crowd that when it comes to discrimination against LGBT people, “Enough is enough.” (See page 42 for an update on legislation in Uganda that would have made homosexuality a crime punishable, in some cases, by death.)

With storm clouds building, the rally was shortened. UUA President Peter Morales closed with a prayer, asking people to remember that everyone has worth and dignity and that no one should be marginalized. “We shall prevail,” he concluded. “Amen.”

The crowd responded with Amens, and people began to scurry for the edges of the park. As the skies opened up, musicians led the retreating crowd in song. “There is more love, right here,” they sang.

Theresa Soto of Portland, Oregon, drove her scooter to the rally carrying a sign that said, “Sitting on the Side of Love. Handicaps Love, Too.” On the way back, fellow UUs sheltered her from the rain under a “Standing on the Side of Love” banner.

This story, which appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of UU World, was abridged from an earlier article published on uuworld.org, “LGBT rights supporters rally in the rain in Charlotte” (6.24.11). See sidebar for links to related resources.

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