Thursday, April 2, 2020

March on Washington 1979

LGBTQ National History Archive

National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights - October 1979

From My Archive - A Few Slides

I've taken on making order out of the mountain of boxes filled with photos from my past, boxes that I've hauled around for decades, from one home to another, only now getting them organized.

One of the finds were some slides from 1979. Given the gaps in the slide numbers, there might be more somewhere. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to get these posted.

The drive to DC from Vermont (by way of family in New York) was invigorating. There were buses and other cars on the highway with signs in their windows. A growing wave of vehicles on a beautiful sunny day, free of the weekday congestion on the roads. In an era before cell phones, GPS or social media, traveling alone, I could still find my way, find my people, make my presence felt.

DC felt empty. President Jimmy Carter was at Camp David for the weekend. There were no crowds of tourists. We had the city to ourselves.

Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

 People were gathering near the Capital. Buses coming from across the country.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

I found the folks from UMass. When I was a grad student there (1972-1974), and was a public speaker for the gay student group, we were known as the Student Homophile League, an artifact of the pre-liberation days. By 1979, they had a much more assertive name: People's Gay Alliance.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

I found my Vermont friends (of course, this is the one picture which is out of focus).
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

The DC Police were present but generally unobtrusive.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979 Police Motorcycles

It was a great day for a rally. The weather was good. The sound system worked. The crowd was enthusiastic.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

There were also quiet moments for hanging with friends and getting an artful selfie in the reflective glass of the National Gallery of Art.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

 A perfect day includes a kite, flying above the crowd.
Larry Wolf, March on Washington 1979

That Explains The Traffic

Driving home to Vermont with a couple of friends after the March, we had a delightful moment at the toll booth for the New Jersey Turnpike. The fare collector noticed the placard we had from the march. He said "That explains all the traffic tonight." His was a simple acknowledgement of who we were. It was a great measure of the crowd size. His direct statement was also a take on the pulse of the country: we were noticed. Another event in DC jamming up the roads. Another group asserting its presence and its right to peacefully assemble. A celebration and a set of demands for change.

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