Rally supports transgender community
Event takes place in protest of Trump's military position
A group of about 100 Grand Valley residents gathered in the rain on the steps of the Wayne N. Aspinall federal building in Grand Junction Thursday evening, to show their support of the LGBTQ community and their anger at President Donald Trump’s recent tweet disallowing the service of transgender people in the military.
“I think the rain is kind of apropos for how we feel today,” said Grand Junction City Councilor Chris Kennedy, explaining that the LGBTQ community — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer — and its supporters feel gloomy that their government representatives aren’t listening to them.
The crowd — diverse in age, race and gender — stood quietly under colorful umbrellas, some holding up American flags or signs either calling for LGBTQ justice or attacking President Trump.
Kennedy rehashed Trump’s tweet and the hubbub that followed, then read the military code of conduct, which ends with, “I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”
“Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see United States officials live by that same code?” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was the second of five people who spoke at the rally. Other speakers included the mother of a transgender son, a woman who started one of the first LGBTQ support groups in Mesa County, and a reverend from the First Congregational United Church of Christ.
They spoke to how LGBTQ justice intersects with family, friends, God and patriotism.
The reverend, Jeffrey Dodson, read from the Declaration of Independence and told the crowd, “You matter!” He offered advice to his audience about actions they can take at work, church or school to make those environments more inclusive.
One member of the crowd was Jennifer Miller, 57, who will begin a professorship at Colorado Mesa University this fall, teaching psychology and LGBT studies.
When asked why she attended the rally, Miller said she was “shocked and horrified by what Trump said,” and, “It can’t be left to stand.”
Another attendee was Gina Lineal Mangruem, a local seamstress and entertainer who’s transgender. Mangruem said she has been busy and wasn’t going to go to the rally, but her husband talked her into attending.
“Being trans in Grand Junction, it’s important to show up,” Mangruem said. She added that she would have liked to see more of a turnout at the event.
“If we could weather the storm, so could they,” Mangruem said of the no-shows.
The event was organized by Heidi Hess from the LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado. Hess said “people are outraged by that tweet from the president.”
She put the rally together as a reaction to the tweet to show, “This is not OK — not in my country and not in my town.”