About 100 people gathered on Old Town Square Saturday afternoon for the 8th annual Freedom to Marry Day, a national day to celebrate and support all “love relationships.”
Julie Wilson, a speaker at the event, opened with a story about a homosexual teen threatened at a movie theater while he was on a date. The management at the theater, instead of asking the intimidator to leave, asked the gay couple to leave.
Wilson is president of the Northern Colorado chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
“Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender loved ones deserve far more than safety. They deserve loving relationships, self-esteem and confidence,” Wilson said. “I have two sons, one is straight and the other is gay, and both should have the right to have a loving relationship legally recognized.”
All ages, from children to senior citizens listened as musical guests, Emily Fehler and The Young and The Na’ve entertained onlookers. Signs waved by GLBT teens and supporters read “gay rights,” “civil marriage is not a civil right” and “love is love.”
Ken Pilot, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church Family in Christ, encouraged onlookers to strive for equal rights in this generation.
“I may be a little bald but I have worn many hats: As a gay man, a member of the clergy and a senior citizen,” Pilot said.
Pilot compared the rights gained in the United States for the GLBT community since his generation of the 1950s.
“But more is not equal,” Pilot said. “It’s freedom of religion and freedom from religion. It is a civil rights and justice issue not a religious issue.”
Andrew Griffin, senior at Fossil Ridge High School, identified with Pilot’s statement after being turned away by from his religious family because of his sexuality.
“I never knew any other gay people,” Griffin said. “I feel better about myself. I’m not bad, I’m not evil, I’m not going to hell.”
After the speakers commenced, the crowd gathered to walk to Avogadro’s Number on Mason Street for wedding cake, music and festivities.
This was the second time Debbie Theibault, a Fort Collins resident, attended celebration for the Freedom to Marry Day.
“We need to make everybody aware because we have a community and we need to be recognized,” Theibault said.
Also present for the event was the CSU student group working to help end sexual assault called “End it!” The Lambda Center for Justice, Peace and the Environment also attended.
Lyla Elbrader, a senior at Fort Collins High School, has faced persecution in her school because she is a transgender.
“It is important to meet people, getting out there and spreading awareness,” Lyla said.
Staff writer Emily Lance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.