On January 21, 2017, Astraea Executive Director J. Bob Alotta was one of 50 speakers at the Women’s March on Washington rally in Washington, D.C. Read a full transcript of her speech below, and view video of the speech here.
My name is J. Bob Alotta. I am the Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. For 40 years Astraea has been on the frontlines supporting LGBTQI activism in the United States & around the world.
But I’m not here to talk to you about 40 years. I’m here to talk to you about today, right now.
We may be here because of someone or something we did not choose. But today, we did choose to show up, to stand up, to march, to gather together. And that is what this time is about – what we are going to choose.
Because in a week from now, a month from now, 4 years from now, we will have been inundated by messaging – not just tweets, but a barrage of policy and public sentiment; images and articles; subtle and overt shifts, in all the ways culture is made – and our values and our choices will be tested. All the ways we want to be in the world will be tested and we will be asked to make choices every single day. In the days, weeks, months and years to come, we will need to become our own collective moral compass. We will need to be our own North Star.
So when you look at our policy statement, when you look around here all day long and are moved by the beauty and diversity and passion of all the folks around you, remember this: we chose to come together in all of our power.
We do not and we will not choose one neighbor over another. We do not and we will not choose to deny our queerness, our lesbian, gay, bi or trans selves in order to be in a march for women or a country for all of us; we do not and we will not deny the beauty and power and joy in our blackness and brownness as if it will make us safer or any more sane in a country that consistently proves otherwise; we will not hide behind our whiteness because of the vestiges of privilege that to this day service a system meant to succeed the will and line the pockets of a few men who’d have us all believe there is superiority in our shade just to keep us from knowing the power of truly being in righteous community and shared humanity (I know that was a mouthful, I am asking you to give up the ghosts of slavery in the year 2017); we will not choose any one person’s notion of God to define every single one of our divine possibilites and surely not our secular and public rules of law; we will not choose some of our rights over all of our rights – we choose to know better, to do better, to be better, to love better.
Let me talk about love. I might be wonderful but I know I got chosen to be up here as the resident homosexual. Or one of them anyway. So what do you need with a big ole queer like me?
I think it is to talk about radical love. To stand here on this stage right now and proclaim my commitment to love in the most radically honest way possible. For you all right now, to commit to doing so. Let me queer our collective notion of love right now, so that every one of us will step past the easy, the scripted, the societally sanctioned, the familiar, the safe notions of love, and let us choose the pathway to not only the greatest possibility but the greatest reward.
We are not a fluke. This is not a singular phenomenon. We are fantastic and fabulous and this is only the beginning. No, this is not a one off. This? Is an Uprising of Love. WE are an uprising of love. Choose it! Everyday!
Want to help us continue to build an #UprisingofLove and support LGBTQI grassroots organizing in the US and around the world? Join us.