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March in Danville for LGBT Rights and Love


DANVILLE,VA. This conservative Southside city,the last capitol of the Confederacy, is not known as a city famous for tolerance. Danville has a past known for racial violence in the 1960's and repression against labor unions in the 1930's and 1940s,heydays of CIO organizing.

For at least a few hours, April 30,2005, it was a major center of Love.

About 75 protesters,organized by Equality Virginia and the Averrit University Gay Straight Alliance confronted Fred Phelps and 9 protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church.
Phelps and his crew from Westboro were protesting that Averritt University had allowed an LGBT group, the Gay Straight Alliance, campus recogonition.

The Baptist Church withdrew finicial support from the University. In a very courageous move, the University did not buckle under to the Baptist demands not to recogonize the Gay Straight Alliance.

"It was great, " said Susan Anderson of Blacksburg, Va, referring to the demonstration.

Ms. Anderson noted there were 30 cops between the two groups that were probably unneccesary. She stated that the confrontation was militant but non-violent."

The 75 LGBT protesters shouted slogans: "SEPARATE CHURCH AND HATE" and "HATE IS NOT A DANVILLE VALUE."

The demonstrators were both young and old, LGBT and straight, included parents of university students.

Molly McClintock, a member of EQUALITY VIRGINIA, from Christiansburg, Va, called the demo, "A positive thing for Averitt students. The purpose was to show solidarity with the students."

After the demonstration, a concert with speakers and bands was held at a local youth club called the Temple. This event was called LOVE FEST 05. The idea was a celebration of the idea that love,
indeed all love, between straight and straight, same sex, interracial should be accepted as equal in law and fact.

But once again, Daville's past came back to haunt in this best of times. One local activist pointed out that the Temple was blocks away from High Street Baptist where civil rights icons Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth inspired African Americans to demand the end of Jim Crow in 1963.

Love Fest 05 was also in the same area, just feet away, from where civil rights demonstrators, inspired by the message of love of your enemy were beaten and clubbed in a day called "Bloody Monday" in 1963.

Love is one thing. Love of power over the lives of others is quite another. And in the words of a former slave turned abolitionist, Fredrick Douglas "Power concedes nothing without a struggle."

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