Meeting the Sea. tea...
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Meeting the Sea. tea...
by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

The first person I saw when I wandered into the Westlake Plaza last week on "tax day" was some guy with a banner so big, it was threatening to become a sail as he joined with the anti-tax "protesters" in the popular spot for protest in Seattle. His "Jesus Loves You" sign and T-shirt alerted me and made bells and whistles go off inside as I made my way through the overflow crowd of mostly well-dressed, white, mostly straight protesters.

That and seeing the "Larouchies," (Lyndon Larouche supporters, who tend to be far to the left of the left-wing movement and who have been accused of espousing the occasional right-wing tenet after their leader's ideals) told me that this was a crowd I probably wouldn't feel comfortable in. But I stayed to listen to a woman dressed like a grown-up version of Alice in Alice, Through the Looking Glass exhort people to challenge the current Obama administration's plans to work at fixing a broken economy by taxing the wealthiest 5% to meet the needs of the many.

She also introduced "Sally and Steve," a couple who apparently started the idea for the "tea parties" which took their tone from the previous "tea parties" held in Boston to protest British rule in the early colonies.

Unfortunately, though this woman swore that those who had shown up to use the event as a forum to "Obama bash," that "none of that behavior will be tolerated" this "tea party" had lots of signs that did exactly that. And after seeing a small group of white men in leather jackets and bandanas who resembled many of the Aryan Nation folks I'd seen in the mid-'90s when the skinheads and AN folks were threatening the GLBT community brushed roughly by me, I chose to step out of this crowd.

I commented to a web reporter that not only were there no rainbow flags present, but that none of the activists I know were among this crowd, and the lack of both, as well as lack of people of color, made me feel afraid.

The reporter took note and showed me a photo he'd taken on his cell phone of two outrageously racist posters drawn badly on cardboard that two white men had been holding up when he'd gotten there earlier to the "party."

I also noted that when I yelled that Tim Eyman - who took the makeshift stage at one point to cheers, instead of the usual "boos" he's generally greeted with in Seattle - is a homophobe, a woman standing next to me eyed me suspiciously and scowled at me. A few other heads turned, and even when I explained to the woman talking to a Channel 4 (KOMO) reporter and undercover cop that Eyman had worked with a right-wing group to try and defeat GLBT legislation years earlier, my statement was met with stony eyes. Her comments about Gay marriage were even more telling, in that she "thinks it's okay for anyone to be together," but that "the Bible says only a man and woman can legally marry," and "she has a problem with Gay people trying to use the word 'marriage.'" Interestingly enough, we were having this conversation in the same place where many protests for marriage equality have taken place, and where many GLBT marchers had hung out after the big GLBT 'Out and Proud' parade last year and the year before.

Those protesters were called "not real protesters" by the "Alice" lookalike, and it was very clear that she and those gathered last week feel that any "taxes for special programs," or "agendas the public doesn't all agree on" (read: GLBT rights or our fight for said rights) weren't on last week's list of things to defend. Also, as I listened to her rave on about "taxation without representation," I thought of how many Lesbian and Gay couples are paying taxes, but who don't have equal rights under the law to the same benefits as straight couples (something the woman talking to the reporter and the cop didn't have a huge problem with, her being a straight woman). So, I left the crowd of flag-wavers and folks holding signs demonizing our current president and the right-wing Christians and homophobes I saw in that crowd with much trepidation and a sense of relief.

Obviously, the fight over unfair taxes that these people are fighting does not include everyone, and obviously not everyone is okay with having a black president at the helm.