Rainbow flags waved over a crowd of LGBTQ advocates Friday night on the south steps of the Capitol to demonstrate resistance toward policies of the incoming presidential administration and the Texas legislature.
At 7 p.m., the rally kicked off with a performance by a group of LGBTQ advocates dancing in white leotards. The night included influential speakers such as Austin City Council member Jimmy Flannigan, Texas state Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Student body president Kevin Helgren said as an openly gay member of the LGBTQ community, he viewed it as a responsibility and an opportunity to continue advocating for the community that he allies himself with.
“When it comes to rights of the LGBTQ community in particular, this isn’t a partisan issue, (and) this isn’t a matter of politics,” Helgren said. “This is a matter of human rights, and when you get people like this in settings like these you allow that message to resonate more effectively and to a larger extent.”
Doggett said the message of the human rights rally is that it isn’t about one rally or one march, but something much bigger.
“There are many people right now who, after the results of last year, are ready to give up,” Doggett said. “They’re frustrated, many are fearful and this is a way of keeping hope alive and keeping people involved. As a Longhorn of many years myself, the price of education and the mountain of debt keeps going up, and those are issues at stake.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said it is important for a community to get together and express what its values are and what its views are.
“What I would just say to residents in our community that in Austin, Texas, we’re going to keep people safe,” Adler said. “We’re going to support people that live in our community and that the values of Austin did not change. We’re the same city, we’ll continue to be the same city and that’s why you see people at this rally.”
Government senior Jeramy Howell, a member of the LGBT community, said he is not happy with the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the recent attacks by the current administration and Texas lawmakers on progressive issues, such as reproductive and transgender rights.
“I think lots of people don’t get involved where it’s really important, which is local politics like this and then the system just stagnates,” Howell said. “I hope this whole inauguration inspires people to be more involved and to resist and protect civil liberties.”
Ana Hernandez, masters student in a dual-degree program with social work and Latin American studies, said this is her third protest of the day and thinks it’s important to show solidarity.
“I think of protests in general, all throughout today, including this one, I’d like to see people coming with the willingness to be open and humble and learn from others that have different experiences and I’d really like to see this go beyond today,” Hernandez said. “There might be people out here who’ve never protested before today and I’d to see them involved beyond today because we have four years of working against bigotry and hatred.”
The rally lasted until 9 p.m., after which the crowd merged with the One Resistance protest at the Mohawk bar.