This past weekend I was honored to participate in Restore Our Humanity’s Summer Family Carnival. As with most events these days, there was a fundraising element involved in it; but unlike most, the true aim was something much more fundamental and much more important: community building.
The event was free, funded by Restore Our Humanity and several generous sponsors. It wasn’t a $200 per plate gala; there weren’t any entry or admission fees or vendors; the various (and plentiful) activities, entertainment acts, and food were open to all; and there was not a VIP section to be seen.
What was there was something markedly different from “the usual,” something some remember from years past and places distant. There was a sense of purpose, a sense of commitment, and a sense of family. It was the epitome of a community event.
I was awestruck at the reaction of people who wandered into the carnival and asked how much the food and activities cost when they were told quite simply, “Nothing. Please donate if you can and enjoy yourself.” The smiles on the faces of the children as they played and ate and had their faces painted translated quickly into smiles on the faces of the adults as we watched them have fun. People were open and friendly, everyone was equal, everyone was a VIP.
People from all walks of life, gay and lesbian and trans*, young and old and everywhere in between, friends and families and singles and couples, they all came together to enjoy each others’ company on a beautiful day in the park.
This is what makes victory inevitable. This is Restore Our Humanity bringing the dream and vision of founder Mark Lawrence into reality. This is a community coming together and growing in strength and purpose for the benefit of all. This is how we change the world.
As we await the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the case of Kitchen v. Herbert, it is imperative that we not lose sight of what this moment has brought to all of us. Restore Our Humanity has already accomplished more than most thought ever possible by bringing marriage equality to Utah for those magical 17 days. They did it without a big office, without an expensive staff, and without compromise. They did it by helping to re-establish a true sense of community and everything that entails.
It is now up to all of us to help carry that torch forward, to help continue to build and expand and support our community, our entire community. Moving forward means that we also need to look back and make the most of the lessons of the past. It means opening our arms and our hearts to all of the downtrodden among us. It means extending the hand of friendship and support to any who are marginalized and make them welcome within our community.
It means we’re taking big steps into the next phase of the human movement. We are building a lasting community.