With a few effortless clicks, we all now have the power to be an activist. A decent internet connection and a social media platform or two enable us to start dialogues, promote causes we believe in and have our voices heard when battling injustice. But our keyboard activism should serve to compliment -- not replace -- our physical presence on the front-lines in the fight against inequality, injustice and hate. We need to stand up -- literally -- for what we believe in.
Jennifer Louise Lopez didn't limit her activism to her laptop when she came across a sign outside a Harlem church that read: "Jesus would stone homos. Harlem is a homo free zone." Jennifer walked up to the church, knocked on their front door and said: "I saw your sign, and I'm here for my stoning. I'm a lesbian."
Jennifer's courageous activism went viral. News outlets across the country covered her stoning request, igniting conversations about freedom of speech and hate speech. Over 11,000 supporters shared the article online and The Young Turks video piece reached 124,583 views on YouTube. The fight against the disrespect and hatred of pastor James David Manning had started.
A protest was scheduled for Saturday, March 29, at 11:30 a.m. in front of the ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church on 123 St. and Lenox in Harlem. Leaders of various LGBT groups gave speeches, we all sang, we hugged, we held up a huge rainbow flag, we took photos and we proudly protested against hate. It was beautiful to fight for respect together, even as the rain poured and a man in a suit and bow-tie passed out anti-gay pamphlets.
But while 43,000 people clicked the "like" button on the Huffington Post's coverage of Jennifer's stoning request, there were (in my count) less than 43 of us protesting outside the homophobic church that seemed to outrage so many of us online. Yes, geography and a variety of other issues could have prevented some of the tens of thousands of other supporters from standing up against hate, but we can do better than a few dozen people when a hate-monger is calling for our stoning.
As the fight for equality and against hate continues, I encourage you to bring your signs and songs and stand up for the cause. Jennifer Louise Lopez inspired many of us, and now, in the words of Harvey Milk, "I'm here to recruit you." Come out with us.
For more photos of the protest, click here.