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On Sunday Afternoon, Pride and Anger Along Oak Lawn's Million Gay March of Texas

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Sunday's Million Gay March of Texas struck a different tone than that of the annual Dallas Pride Parade or other celebrations in Oak Lawn. Folks marched with hands raised in fists instead of waves to the crowd, chanted at those in open bars to join them in the streets, and arrived at Robert E. Lee Park for speeches on the need for anger at the current state of the gay rights movement.

From Saturday night's Rainbow Lounge raid in Fort Worth to the perception that President Obama has brushed aside gay issues since taking office, there were plenty of recent causes for anger as groups across the country marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The march in Oak Lawn was one of 50 demonstrations across the country, one in each state, under the banner of the Million Gay March.

Police estimated the march drew 700 people, according to Rick Vanderslice, who helped emcee the event. Queer LiberAction's founder, Blake Wilkinson, helped rally support for an encore march last night, west to Fort Worth for protests against the raid that left one patron hospitalized with a skull fracture. "It's disgusting," he said, that the raid so closely coincided with the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid in Greenwich Village.

At the end of the afternoon march, which began blocks up Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street, the crowd separated into the shaded edges of the park.

Joey Avila ventured closer than most to the direct sunlight's sweltering heat, wearing rainbow beads and a hat covered in buttons. "For me, I have a lot of friends who have died of HIV, and if they were here they'd probably fill this park up," he said, gesturing at the empty, unshaded space in the middle of the lawn.

Avila, who said he volunteers at AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network and city-sponsored groups as well, said he hopes more young people will see the value of political action, even apart from gay rights issues.

Over last few decades, Avila said he's seen only glimmers of progress at a city level in return. "Now, we can get permits to march like this, we can come out here and make our presence known," he said. "I am proud of my city, I just wish my city was proud of me."

For more photos from marches around the country, check out this national slide show.

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