Children of the Revolution: West Valley Talks Protests and Demonstrations – From Stonewall to SB 1062
By Avi Vieira
Recently, we as Arizonians faced one of the biggest social challenges in recent memory: the state legislature passing SB 1062. With our youth questioning the proposed law and uncertain how to voice their opposition, West Valley one•n•ten held an evening discussing protests and demonstrations in our community. Led by our volunteers Nickolas Fletcher and Avi Vieira, the evening started with a review of SB 1062 and clarity on how it would impact LGBTQs and other minorities in the state. Questions were asked by the youth who wondered how such a law could be passed, and what they could do to stop it.
The discussion turned to different forms of protest which have ranged from riots such as experienced during Stonewall and the verdict of the Dan White murder trial of Harvey Milk, to sit-in demonstrations as seen during the AIDS epidemic, Pride marches, to boycotts of products and services such as the boycott of Florida orange juice during Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign. The youth shared their thoughts and feelings as to how they would deal with those opposed to LGBTQ civil rights issues including same sex marriage, non-discrimination in employment and housing, or receiving goods and services. Other youth compared experiences such as facing counter protesters at Pride, sharing their opinions of engaging versus ignoring them.
Finally, the evening closed with a brief lesion in politics, with the youth learning how to contact their local representatives and the governor when they support or disagree with legislation. Telephone calls, letters, and emails can be extremely effective means of communication, if done politely and sticking to the issues. Many youth shared the observation that while they may not have the prestige of national elections, local and state elections DO matter and have just as big of an impact on their lives. Other youth noted that for those that are not yet old enough to vote, they can vote with their dollars, thereby supporting businesses that support them. In all, it proved to be an informative and empowering evening, where the staff and volunteers began to see the next generation of political activists and leaders emerge.