Why I took part in the Augusta Solidarity March

On Friday, the day Donald Trump officially became the 45th president of the United States, I took my daughter to the park with the intention of not thinking about politics. Earlier in the day, I joked with my editor about the day being set aside for mourning. But I really cried when I watched the Obamas welcome the Trumps into the White House. 

I live in a very red county now, so it shouldn't have surprised me to see, on our drive to the park, white men standing on the corner of a busy intersection, waving a Confederate flag and holding up a sign that read, "America is back!" My chest tightened, but I pushed it out of my head so I could enjoy playing with my baby girl. She just started walking, so every day is a new adventure with her.

But the next day, Saturday, I joined about 600 people from the Augusta area to march in solidarity with the historic Women's March on Washington.

PHOTOS: Augusta Pride 2015

The excitement was thick in the air, despite the Georgia heat slapping the back of my neck. Even a couple of blocks away, I could hear a crowd cheering and see rainbow flags waving. 

As I trucked down Broad Street toward the Augusta Common, camera in tow, I wondered how many people had come out to the city's 6th annual Pride festival and parade. It was a historic weekend, with the Supreme Court only legalizing same-sex marriage 24 hours prior. But, despite it being my hometown, I haven't figured Augusta out yet. Were there many people here in this smallish city who would celebrate equality the way I did? Were there many others whose lives were not immediately changed by the ruling, but who felt like something amazing had happened when five of the justices had ruled marriage was a right to be enjoyed by all?

Or were social conservatives still running amuck here? The last time my boyfriend and I had come down to the Common together, for a 4th of July celebration a few years ago I think, I noticed we caught a lot of looks. Not glares, really, but just curious attention that made me want to leave. I chalked it up to that hag, the old South, throwing shade at an interracial couple over a glass of sweet tea.

As I neared the Common, I felt myself being swallowed up in a sea of black and white, rainbows, heterosexual and homosexual, drag queens, teenagers and dogs. It was overwhelming.

I'd come downtown to celebrate the decision that brought "equal dignity in the eyes of the law" and was happy to find that many, many others had as well. From the white lesbian couple who carried a daughter maybe 5 years old to the aging black husband and wife pair collecting swag from the vendor tents, the masses had come out in support of equality. It was a beautiful day to be an Augustan. 


Georgia's first pro-gay marriage TV ad campaign unveiled in Augusta, Savannah

As I've adjusted to life without a 9 to 5, there's been a lot of TV in the background. The boyfriend has cable, which I've lived without for over a year until now. Hey, don't judge me.

But I was pleasantly surprised earlier this week to see a commercial advocating for gay marriage on behalf of Georgians. Pleasantly surprised because I've put Georgia in a little red, conservative box, and I know that's wrong of me. 

Here's the spot, thanks to advocacy groups Georgia Equality and Freedom to Marry:

The AJC has a statement from Georgia Equality director Jeff Graham:

“We’ve chosen to run the ads initially in the Augusta and Savannah markets because there are large LGBT communities in both of those areas, yet this is an issue that has not had the same level of public interest and discourse as we’ve experienced in the metro Atlanta area. …

“[N]ot only is this the first commercial that I’m aware of to air in Georgia on the topic of marriage equality. It’s also the first time our organization has bought commercial time in any television market and is probably the first time any LGBT organization has done anything more than an in-kind PSA here in Georgia.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on whether same-sex marriage should be legal across the country. My thing is, there's so much hate, terror and inequality in the world already -- why not let love win?