by Bob Warburton
"If Wyoming is here, 'he vhole world is here",
yelled a voice from the crowd. She was right. The
whole world, including Wyoming, was represented at the
Gay March on Washington on October 1-4, 1979.
Literally every "type" of gay was represented.
Groups ranged from Gay Mormons to Gay Atheists, from
Wyoming and Texas to France and England, from Socialists
to the anti-nuclear lobby. There were more women than
Estimates of the crowd size ranged from the
Washington Post's 25,000 to the March organizer's
250,000, The police estimate was 75,000.
The March was' conceived to focus attention on all
aspects of the gay rights struggle. It was also a
celebration of the progress made by gays in the ten years
since the Stonewall riot. Washington D.C. Mayor Marion
Barry had proclaimed the week as "Gay Rights Week".
Speakers at the rally on the Washington Monument grounds
represented Parents of Gays, Latino Gays, Gay Youth, and
the National Organization of Women.
The demonstration met with little resistance and no
violence. One large poster called on the demonstrators
to "repent", Anita Bryant prayed for the marchers from
her Florida home while minister Jerry Fallwell equated
homosexuality with drug addiction.
Despite these negative aspects, the March progressed
without a hitch and pleased most of the participants,
"See you next October on the steps of the Capitol,"
implored one festive marcher from San Francisco.
DENVER COPS ATTACK GAYS
DENVER (IGNA) - Their heads were shaved with battery powered clippers and the police told them to "go
back and tell the rest of the faggots that this is
just a warning",
Dennis Gross, 21, claims this happened after he
and two other men were ordered into a squad car and
the policemen decided they were gay. Gross had filed
charges and taken a lie detector test to substantiate
his claims. No verdict has been reached.
The incident occured less than two months after a
Task Force in Denver had made its recommendations on
ways to reduce tension between police and Denver's gay
community. The Task Force, which had been set up to
assess allegations that the Denver police were harassing gays recommended:
- that the police force actively recruit homosexuals
- that city laws that are used to harass gays be
studied and changed.
- that gays be appointed to all city boards and
commissions that deal with civil rights and
public safety issues.
Captain Jerry Kennedy, head of the Denver Vice
Squad claimed many of the charges of harassment have
come from homosexuals arrested for illegal acts, such
as prostitution and public indecency. "They're naturally going to have a rub with the police department."
I sat down on the sidewalk near the Tidal Basin
behind the stage hugging myself for warmth and listning
to the speakers. All I could see to the east was a huge
mass of people and the Washington Monument looming out
of the crowd. I was enjoying myself and the camaroderi'e
I felt with the 100,000 other participants, but I still
had a nagging question in the back of my mind. "What is
In the late sixties and early seventies, I had ask
asked myself the same question concerning my involvement
with the anti-war movement. Did the demonstrations end
the war earlier. Looking back:, I would have to say they
did, over a long period of time.
I believe the same can probably be said about the
Washington March. There will be no automatic change.
Congress will not pass an anti-discrimination bill this
session. However, the pressure is finally being felt in
Washington that might bring about change in the not too
The Washington March proved that there were at
least 100,000 people willing to pay the cost and brave
the cold in order to support gay rights. The participants felt a unity never before experienced. The whole
lesbian/gay nation was represented enmasse for the first
The Washington March cannot be seen as a culmination of efforts. It is the beginning of a struggle.
The speakers on the stage told us we must take the fight
back home with us. At dinner that night, our Wyoming
contingent spoke of what we had to do when we returned
home. We all knew that by the simple act of going to
Washington, we had come out to our families and to the
world. There is no going back.
We decided we had to redouble our energies in our
local communities. The spirit of Washington Has to be
spread throughout the world.
(Bob Warburton is the third president of DIGNI|TY/Wyoming.
He has been politically active since the late 1960's.)
KENNEDY AND BROWN ANNOUNCE GAY SUPPORT
Two major Democratic candidates for president
have recently announced their support for the inclusion of a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party
platform. Both have said that, if elected to the
presidency, they would sign an Executive Order banning discrimination against gays/lesbians in the
federal government. Governor Brown had pledged his
support for an end to discrimination against gays/
lesbians at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser in November.
Both candidates1 commitment are substantially the
The recent Kennedy and Brown pledges all but ensure that the 1980 August National Democratic Convention in New York City vill hear and debate a resolution on gay rights. If passed, the gay rights issue
would become a part of the national Democratic Party
platform. Democratic candidates would then pledge
their support to the platform for the November elections.