Out Against the Right: An Organizing Handbook for Queer Activists and Grassroots Organizers
For lesbian activists and grassroots organizers fighting the Christian Right.

Getting Everyone Together: Rallies, Concerts, and Fairs

Some campaign events are designed to attract a large audience for a relaxed, enjoyable time to build community, show your numbers, expand your volunteer base, and/or raise money. These events can be complicated and may require long-term planning, but they can also be done on a shoestring budget.

We helped Equal Protection Lewiston organized such an event in Lewiston, Maine. It was called "The Maine Event. It was held at a local high school and attended by hundreds of supporters who listened to speeches by local and state politicians, members of the clergy, and Lewiston's Police Chief, among others. The event was successful because it raised some money, while it also clarified where various political officials stood on the issue some spoke in our support, others refused to speak at all. On the other hand, it was also somewhat alienating politicians were elevated as celebrities at the expense of lesbian and gay activists, who felt excluded from and sometimes even targeted by the assimilationist language of virtually all the speakers (none of which had we been involved in choosing).

The Diversity Fair in Moscow, Idaho, protesting Proposition One is an example of a more enjoyable and inclusive event that served the same purpose. Moscow's Voices for Human Rights group organized the event, which was held on a sunny weekend afternoon in Moscow's East City Park and had something of a carnival atmosphere. Diner owners sold hamburgers next to bookstore owners exhibiting their gay selections next to jewelrymakers and t-shirt vendors. The "Friends of the Moscow Public Library" set up a demonstration table full of books which would not be available to children if the Proposition were to pass. PFLAG distributed literature at one table, Amnesty International collected signatures at another, and Voices for Human Rights staffed a table with all sorts of anti-Proposition One literature. Several folks from Voices and the Avengers spent the day wandering around collecting donations and names. LACROP members boiled tofu dogs, peddled propaganda and recruited likely lasses who might be interested in joining the newly formed Palouse Avengers.

Meanwhile, on stage, local bands and musicians alternated with political speakers. Advertising for the rally included coverage in local newspaper and radio reports, flyering around town, and word of mouth, all of which produced a steady flow of people throughout the day.

Concerts, rallies, and fairs provide an opportunity for us to deliver a clear message about our struggle for lesbian and gay rights and to better educate the public about who we are. They also provide a forum for us to persuade voters, recruit volunteers and collect donations for the cause. Most importantly, these events give us the chance to come together as a community, find out who our allies are, and just have a good time.

Rallies, Concerts, Fairs
  1. Get everyone there. Politicians, activists, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, non-profit organizations, bands, musicians, etc. Participants can be divided into: speakers, entertainment, food tables, retail tables, Non-profit tables, and audience.
  2. Find out what permits you may need.
  3. Make a program, funded by ads from supportive/participating businesses.
  4. Set up your own table with literature.
  5. Don't put too many speakers in a row (alternate with music or performance).
  6. Have people collecting donations & volunteer names.
  7. Have a media contact this is not the only person who will speak to the press or represent your organization, but someone the press can approach to find out what's going on and who will also direct them to other people they can speak with.

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