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Thousands of people from across the country, including a number of Brown students and Providence community members, gathered in Washington, D.C. over the long weekend for the inaugural National Equality March, an event calling for equal civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

"It was an incredible experience to be a part of the march.  It was really energizing," said Gene Goldstein-Plesser '11, who attended the march after publicizing it in Providence.

While the march itself only lasted a few hours — culminating in a rally at the Capitol Building on Sunday — workshops, lectures and social mixers for the march began on Friday and lasted all weekend.

During the march, various activists, politicians and performers — including gay rights activist Cleve Jones, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Chairman Julian Bond, pop singer Lady Gaga and poet Staceyann Chin — spoke to the crowd about the importance of demanding equal rights.

Approximately 200,000 people attended the march, according to Time Magazine. Goldstein-Plesser said the crowd marching to the Capitol stretched for many blocks.
Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a local nonprofit, and the Providence Equality Action Committee, chartered a bus to shuttle people from Providence to the march. Tickets for the bus were sold on campus, but some Brown students decided to organize carpools to drive to the event.

In the weeks leading up to the event, Lindsay Goss GS and Goldstein-Plesser, who enlisted support from the Brown Queer Alliance, worked to publicize the event at several Providence colleges and universities by putting up posters, e-mailing and selling bus tickets.

"We've got some Brown students ready to represent," Goss said the Friday before the event. "Lots of first-timers are going and people who don't usually consider themselves activists," she said.

Goss said activist and author Sherry Wolf's lecture at Brown last month about oppression of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people helped raise awareness about the march on campus. Wolf addressed the National Equality March participants over the weekend.

Students who attended the rally said it was a positive experience.

"I was excited I was able to go and show support for the cause," said Andrew Bergmanson '11, who attended the march with Goldstein-Plesser. "Everyone was blown away."

Organizers said a march and rally on the steps of the Rhode Island State House organized by Marriage Equality NOW on Oct. 17 will continue the momentum gained from the national event.

"Some people think it's a waste of time to just wave signs, but people are starting to realize that this is something we need," Goldstein-Plesser said.


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