The rally against the president-elect convened at the TWU amphitheater, where protesters shared their fears both as, and for, immigrants, people of color, HIV victims, LGBTQ+ members, Muslims, women and people with disabilities.
Organizer, veteran and graduate student Sean Sala spearheaded the rally. “Right now, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Where are our leaders? Where are our Harvey Milks? Where are our Martin Luther Kings?” said Sala. “And the answer is: they’re right here.”
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Sala served six years in the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and has been through conversion therapy. Among the many fears associated with a Trump presidency, Sala spoke out against future Vice President Mike Pence’s proposal to cut funding for HIV/ AIDS treatment and reallocate those funds towards conversion therapy.
For another LGBTQ+ student, this potential policy hit home like no other. The student, who had just heard of Pence’s proposal for the very first time, shared his recent HIV diagnosis with the crowd. He said that for the first time, he can literally say that his life is on the line because of this election. Protesters flocked to hug and support the student throughout the rally, many telling him, “I’m with you.” The Lasso has decided to refrain from sharing the student’s name in order to protect his safety.
Sophomore Bemnet Abera spoke out about changes she would like to see on TWU’s campus. “We have so much power here to produce the changes that we need, and I don’t think the students recognize that,” said Abera. “We are more than just minorities at this school getting an education. We are minorities at this school who should be representing an entire nation.”
Other speakers encouraged their comrades to actively listen to marginalized voices, to speak up for one another in the face of injustice, to educate themselves on our political system and to remember that they are not alone.
If love is to trump hate, protesters represent the need for the campus with a heart to also be the campus with a voice.