WASHINGTON - As many as 10,000 or more people gathered for an “LGBTQ and Allies Rally for Reasonable Gun Control and Human Rights” at a park near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, according to its lead organizer.
Gay activist Jason Hayes said a Facebook page he created to promote the event drew more than 22,000 shares less than two weeks after he launched it. Almost immediately, the event started attracting volunteers and organizations offering to help. Within days, a senior staff from The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence was at Jason's kitchen table.
He said he decided to organize the rally shortly after the June 12 shooting rampage in Orlando, Fla., that claimed the lives of 49 mostly LGBT people of color at the gay nightclub Pulse.
"I was shaking. In a moment of sorrow and frustration I set this in motion and believed in my heart that I could make something happen, but it became real so quickly. I'm grateful for the people who have shown their support and are going to be with us on August 13th in Washington,” Hayes said in a media post on the rally’s website.
“As a gay man, I know all too well how often people in our communities are targeted for violence,” Hayes said in a statement. “But these issues touch many people and other communities also struggle daily with the impact of hatred and violence. We understand that and want to stand together with anyone who feels disenfranchised and threatened,” he said.
"It was amazing to see so many passionate and compassionate Americans standing together for a safer nation. We must remember to make our voices heard again on November 8th. Vote for people who support the wishes of 90% of Americans for gun safety," said Stephanie Garcia a rally attendee.
Hayes has emphasized his focus on diverse groups coming together by appending an "A" for "Allies" at the end of the now familiar LGBTQ acronym and also highlighting the many organizations currently involved in supporting and promoting the Rally on every page of his website.