After hearing about President Donald Trump’s potential executive order regarding religious freedom, the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club decided to fight back.
“We said, ‘We need to be out here and we need to say something about this and we need to do this in a real intersectional way,’” said Liberty City Co-Chair Malcolm Kenyatta. “I’m a black, gay, Christian guy from North Philly and I come to every table with all of that. I don’t just bring certain parts. It was really important to us that we build a really strong intersectional group of organizations to support us.”
Liberty City’s March Against Discrimination had more than 500 attendees Thursday evening. The event featured sponsorship from 17 other organizations representing various causes, including education, racial justice and transgender rights.
After participants marched from Fox 29 at Fourth and Market streets to City Hall, Kenyatta introduced himself to the crowd, saying, “Trump thinks that our differences make us weak.” Kenyatta addressed those he doesn’t believe matter to Trump, referring to black, trans and LGBT lives.
“We’re here today to tell Donald Trump that his view of America — his discriminatory view of America — is not the view of America that we have and it’s not the view of America that we’re going to be OK with.”
Several speakers participated in the demonstration, including Ernest Owens, vice president of Equality Pennsylvania.
“It’s time for us to understand that if we are going to take a stand, we all got to work on our issues in our yards and outside our yards and all around,” Owens said.
Aamina Morrison, a representative of GALAEI’s Transhealth Information Project (TIP) and a transgender woman, spoke about the controversy regarding access to bathrooms for transgender individuals.
“We’re in a really weird time in our lives and in American history when people sit down around a roundtable to figure out what laws are appropriate so that people can use a bathroom,” Morrison said. “There are families who can’t see their young right now because they are prohibited from coming into this country and you’re trying to tell me that people can’t use a bathroom right now.”
Christian Lovehall, another representative from GALAEI and a transgender man, urged marchers not to be “selective protesters.”
“When we march against discrimination, we are marching against all discrimination,” Lovehall said.
Mike Hisey, 54, was among the protesters at the event. Hisey has received attention on social media for attending several protests and demonstrations in drag as “Alt-Fact Kelly,” in which he donned an outfit similar to the one Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s adviser, wore to the presidential inauguration. Hisey made the outfit himself, and carried a sign saying “LGBTQ+ not included” to mirror how batteries are not included with a toy doll.
Hisey, who is HIV-positive, said he was protesting because he did not want the Affordable Care Act to be repealed.
“I have a problem with that and I’m going to speak out,” Hisey said. “This is my voice. I’m an artist. I’m a gay artist. And I’m HIV-positive.”
Andrew Mahan, 33, attended wearing a Donald Trump mask he referred to as “the best $20 I’ve ever spent on Amazon.” He wore the mask during the Democratic National Convention and Trump’s inauguration. Mahan is straight and cisgender but he has a gay brother, and his girlfriend’s brother is transgender.
“Even without that personal connection, I still feel that people are free to do as they want and it’s really not the government’s standpoint to say what you can and can’t be,” Mahan said.
Kenyatta plans to keep the resistance going.
“We’re going to make it clear to Donald Trump that we are going to fight back every single day,” he said.
Other speakers included Councilman Derek Green, Linda Holltzman from Jewish Voice for Peace, Asa Khalif from the Pennsylvania chapter of Black Lives Matter, the Rev. Jeffrey Jordan, Sen. Daylin Leach and Hillary Linardopoulos from the Philadelphia Federation for Teachers.