A Graceful Demonstration

Corbin Sosa holds his sign during Sunday's peaceful protest.

Corbin Sosa holds his sign during Sunday’s peaceful protest.

Members of GetEQUAL Texas held signs to bring attention to their cause on Sunday afternoon on the corner of 50th St. and University Avenue in Lubbock.

The small group created a lot of noise as cars whizzed by and drivers honked their horns to show support for the group. The crowd, which included children, smiled and waved at people, and when asked why that location, the response was quick.

A smiling participant said it was chosen because it is a heavily traveled area and it is in close proximity to the group’s place of worship, Metropolitan Community Church.

Texas Tech University accounting major Corbin Sosa said he first met the GetEQUAL Texas state lead, Patrick Fierro, a few months ago when he was in town to support Casey Stegall, whom was fired from The Children’s Home of Lubbock due to his sexual orientation.

“First of all,” Sosa said, “we need to get the LGBTQ community involved in GetEQUAL Lubbock, and once we have their attention and have people who really want to get on board, we would really like to start pushing toward same-protection.”

He said the group would like to model their efforts after an organization in Houston that fights for equal rights, which discourages employers from firing anyone based on their sexual orientation.

Cars honked their horns and waved at the group in support of their efforts.

Cars honked their horns and waved at the group in support of their efforts.

“Recently, the Lubbock mayor was quoted saying that if something was brought to him in that nature, he would look into it,” he said, “and so we are really going to get together, hopefully with the MCC, and really try to get something together and send it to the mayor.”

Sosa said the Lubbock chapter of GetEQUAL Texas is still in the making and this is their fourth event. He said chapter will be holding more events in the future to try to get people involved.

The day was warm and the sun was shining, creating a soft glow on a large white banner held by participants. A small child sat on the ground as she held a sign that read “LGBTQ equals love” above her head and cars honked. Toward the corner of the intersection, standing tall, Patrick Fierro of GetEQUAL Texas held his portion of a banner.

Austin-resident Fierro said LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, which is a term commonly misused. He said although this is the local group’s first visibility action, GetEQUAL has been a national organization since 2010 and the state chapter was founded two years later, with the movement making its way into West Texas this year.

“It’s a peaceful protest,” Fierro said, “and we’re just wanting to show the city of Lubbock that we’re here and that GetEQUAL Lubbock is gonna get started on working on social justice issues in Lubbock.”

He said the most important thing for people to understand is that their organization is not just about issues within the LGBTQ community; it is about equality for all of humanity. He said the social injustices surrounding immigration and reproductive health are part of the discrimination many face.

He said the current topic of reproductive justice concerns him because it could be pushing people to unsafe alternatives, such as seeking help across the border at clinics that may not meet safe medical standards.

A young participant doesn't shy away from spreading the group's message.

A young participant doesn’t shy away from spreading the group’s message.

“Our goal,” he said, “is to fight for full federal equality, governed by civil law.”

He said the group wants people to know it will no longer hide in the shadows; visibility actions and training allows the members to convey that message. The training, he said, teaches potential leaders how to hold people in a position of power accountable for their actions.

An upcoming campaign regarding abortion clinic closures is underway, he said, and it will highlight the issue of the closures occurring in impoverished areas where people already have limited resources.

As Fierro stood and spoke, a young man with glasses looked on as he held his sign and interacted with spectators. He said his name is Casey Stegall, and he was fired from his job for his lifestyle choices.

Stegall, a 22-year-old Tech student, made area-wide news over the summer when his personal story was released. He said once people heard about his situation, he was surprised by the outpour of support he received from the community.

Get Equal Lubbock spreads their message of equality, acceptance and love as people drive by.

Get Equal Lubbock spreads their message of equality, acceptance and love as people drive by.

“It was very surprising because like I said after my story was released,” Stegall said, “I received so much positive feedback and a lot of it came from Lubbock, and it did surprise me that it was from Lubbock because Lubbock is a very conservative town. I was very happy and pleased with the support.”

Ultimately, he said, he would like to see the LGBTQ community have equal rights and just like every other group who has fought the same battle, everyone has to start somewhere.

“We’re people, too,” he said, “just because we chose to love someone of the same sex doesn’t mean we should be shunned. We’re people just like everyone else.”

The Texas chapter’s leader, Fierro, said while President Obama has talked about equal rights for federal employees, people like Stegall are being left out.

“What about people like Casey? We need a full federal equality bill that protects us all,” Fierro said.

For more information on how to get involved, you can reach the local group through GetEQUAL Lubbock on Facebook or email p.fierro@getequaltx.org.

About Lucinda Holt

Enterprise Editor - Journalism major and anthropology minor. Graduates in December 2014. Lucinda is a non-traditional student with an associate degree in journalism from Western Texas College in Snyder. She hopes to build a career as a foreign correspondent.

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