Tens of thousands of LGBTQ folk and their allies marched through Hollywood and West Hollywood on Sunday for the Resist March, a protest which this year replaced the colorful and over-the-top celebratory atmosphere of a Pride parade.
The event was billed as non-partisan, but unmistakeable was the heavy presence of marchers bearing anti-Trump signs, speakers decrying the administration’s immigration, healthcare and civil rights policies, and Democrats calling for a burst of activism to channel into the 2018 elections.
At a rally on Santa Monica Boulevard at the march’s end point, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led the crowd in a chant, asking “Why do we resist?” “Because this is not normal,” the crowd answered.
“Now let me tell you this, what our colleagues and I hear sometimes in the Congress. ‘It’s easy for you. You represent California, where people are so tolerant.’ And I say to them. ‘Don’t use the word ‘tolerant.’ That is a condescending word.’ This is not about tolerance. This is about taking pride. This is about respect.”
She called for passage of legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination, but she also talked of winning back the House in 2018. Not to be outdone, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who said that Trump “stands for the worst of everything,” led the crowd in a chant of “Impeach 45.”
“When he thinks he can mess with the LGBT community, he better know what happens right here in West Hollywood,” Waters said of the President.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the gathering, “We are still as proud as ever, but we are also mad as hell.”
“The LGBT community has always been the tip of the spear of resistance,” he said. “This community has always been on the forefront of so much positive change.”
Brian Pendleton, the organizer of the event, said that more than 100,000 people were in attendance.
Among the signs: “Batman’s dead … but the Joker is still our President.” “I’ve seen better cabinets at Ikea.” “American Horror Story: Trump.” “Resist Covfefe Betches!!!” “If Hillary Was President We’d All Be At Lunch Right Now.”
“I am terribly against the Trump agenda. I am pro-choice, pro-sexuality, pro-good government, and we need a change,” said Tauby Lynn Ross, who held a sign that read “I am … just a person … love is love.” The words gay-bi-straight were crossed out.
Ross, who identifies as straight, said that they have been to previous Pride events, but “wanted to go to this one because [they] knew it would be different.” “I went to the Women’s March in Washington, so I have been marching since January,” they said with pride.
There had been some questions as to whether the parade should be replaced by a march this year, but most speakers said that it was entirely in line with the meaning of Pride events.
“What do you think the parade was about for the past 40 years?” asked West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, pointing out that Pride events have their roots in protests of the late 1960s. He noted that when Los Angeles police raided the Black Cat Bar in Silver Lake in 1967, arresting same-sex couples for kissing each other, “our forefathers and mothers fought back and resisted against that unjust law.”
Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also noted that the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, which banned same-sex marriage in California, led to a backlash that saw protests and court challenges and eventually the Supreme Court recognition of gay nuptials in a 2015 decision.
“We built coalitions and changed hearts and minds,” he said, adding that “Just like Proposition 8, together we are going to defeat Donald Trump.”
A number of Hollywood figures spoke, including America Ferrera, Chris Rock, Adam Lambert, Jussie Smollett, and Margaret Cho.
Cho, never one to shy away from humor at the edge, told a series of ribald jokes about Trump’s sex life with his wife Melania, drawing on what Trump said in that infamous “Access Hollywood” video. “I don’t think he grabbed Melania by the p—y. I think he grabbed her with a green card.”