Following a peaceful gathering with songs and candles at Vance Monument earlier in the evening, a group decided to take to the streets to protest the passage of Amendment One.
A group of 75 to 100 people staged an impromptu march against Amendment One downtown early Wednesday morning. Starting spontaneously just hours after the people of North Carolina voted to amend the state’s constitution to ensure that marriage between one man and one woman will be the state’s only legal domestic union, the march at times bordered on becoming a riot. Protesters chanted obscene slogans and threw firecrackers, encouraging bar patrons to join them as they marched through the streets, ending up at the Vance Monument, where the march began. Despite its rowdiness, the march remained peaceful.
After blocking the streets for much of their progress, the protesters quickly dispersed to the sidewalks when several Asheville Police Department cars arrived after about 20 minutes. A few demonstrators waited for the close approach of police, apparently to see what the reaction would be. The only officer who came to speak to the group was very polite and professional. He asked if there was something they needed from the police, and what their further plans were. The protesters were also polite and told him, no, we have already done it.
After that the group crossed to the Vance Monument. Several brief speeches were given and protesters vowed to turn their anger into action to overturn Amendment One.
Xpress reporter Caitlin Byrd captured this video of the march on her cell phone:
This email was recieved from one of the apparent leaders of the march, Samuel Soper a short time ago…
My partner and I had a domestic partnership yesterday. We no longer do today and this hurts me primarily because my partner and my community are my family. I come from an unsupportive, unstable, queerphobic backround. I don’t think I ever felt the love that I longed for from anyone before tonight as we banned together in solidarity. Tonight I felt a sense of community that I have not felt ever before amongst the queer and ally demographic of Asheville, NC. We marched at midnight this evening and literally took to the streets of downtown Asheville. Nearly fifty of us came together through phone calls, text messages, and Facebook in under an hour.
We didn’t come together for the same reasons many groups do. We didn’t come together proclaiming that we deserve recognition of our love to another person. We came together with the love and passion that we all have for one another as well as radical change. We came together saying, We are lower class oppressed individuals and this amendment was a power trip. This amendment was an extreme act of privlege and unecessary. We came together saying, We are here and we are important. Many of us are not the mainstream faces seen in the LGBTQ fight. Many of us are transgender, genderqueer, plain old queer, lesbian,ally, bisexual, gay and without label. Many of us work service jobs. Many of us are in school. Many of us do not fit the cookie cutter image that America demands in order to deem queerness as “normal” or “acceptable”.
Many of us are apart of local LGBTQ organizations that do other work not as glamorous as marriage rights. We reacted tonight because we were all hurt that the state could create so much fragmentation and use marriage the way that it does. We were mourning and we needed to let as many people as possible know.
I don’t feel like this was the end. We will continue to fight and create as much awareness and visibility possible.
I run an organization called “Just Us For All”. I know many people in the community have come to our events. We are having our “We’re Not Bashful” rally on May 18th and the queer community here uses Stonewall as an excuse to come together once a year. Stonewall will occur on June 30th. I imagine we will use these events as ways to maintain our solidarity and continue to gain recognition and visibility in hopes of a repeal one day but primarily to keep our community together,strong, and educated.
A few people that need to be recognized for their efforts in this community besides myself are: E.B. Clayton, Caroline Wilson, and Otto M.