Gay activist Cleve Jones, lead organizer of the National Equality March, brought his message of a federal equality strategy to New York City on Wednesday, taking the opportunity to rebuke some of the chief criticisms of the event scheduled for next month in Washington, D.C.
Jones, a self-described "cynical old bitch," spoke to a packed room of more than 140 people at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, where he broached concerns about the timing and finances of the march scheduled for October 10 and 11, Columbus Day weekend, a period when targeted legislators will be on holiday.
"Why are we doing it on a three-day weekend?" Jones asked. "So you can go there. Because most of you work, don't you? You work, you go to school. Wouldn't it be a little more difficult for you to get down there on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday as opposed to a three-day weekend?"
Even so, Jones declined to predict how many people were going to attend, noting only that the Porta Potti formula anticipated 100,000 participants, and that he believed the march would be "big."
"I have no clue how many people are going to show up," he said.
Jones also addressed the concern that funding for the march, which is budgeted at a slight $200,000, would pull resources from urgent election battles in Maine and Washington. He expressed confidence that the LGBT community holds the capacity to support battles on multiple fronts, and suggested that allocations were a matter of personal priorities.
"Where do people get this idea that there's this finite, limited amount of money?" he said. "That it's only this, and this finite, limited number of volunteers and hours."
"Even during this recession, I go out," Jones said afterward, "and everywhere I go, I see the clubs are filled with people. Thousands and thousands of people every night, drinking high-priced drinks, spending money on their clothes. We can do this."
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