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    We’re Still Here

    1-Photo-RebeccaKaplan(1)By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large

    When I first became out and active as a queer person, in the 1980s, we did not have the support of a President, and services for us were not listed on the White House website. Our very existence and right to be seen and heard was questioned by many, and the notion that we would have equal rights to marriage and more was seen by some as an impossible dream.

    As we worked to assert our right to exist, demonstrations often featured the chant: “We’re here; We’re queer … .” And now that our existence is no longer honored on the White House website and is not respected by this president, it is worth remembering that we are still here. Our validity, existence, rights, and self-respect do not disappear by updating a website, nor by the opinion of people in positions of authority.

    At the Women’s Marches across the world on Saturday, January 21, we proved that we are still here, showing up in masses to exert our collective power and resistance. Worldwide, more than 1 million people mobilized against Trump’s attacks on our dignity, safety, and civil rights.

    In Oakland, my wife and I marched alongside an estimated 100,000 people in beautiful, peaceful march for the rights of women, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, the environment, our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and other marginalized communities. Together, we sent a message of unity and resistance to the Trump Administration, a message that we will continue to project in the four years to come.

    As Stephen Sondheim wrote in the evocative and oddly timely lyrics written decades ago:

    “Good times and bum times, I’ve seen ’em all

    And, my dear, I’m still here

    Plush velvet sometimes

    Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I’m here

    I’ve run the gamut, A to Z

    Three cheers and dammit, C’est la vie

    I got through all of last year, and I’m here

    Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here

    Look who’s here, I’m still here”

    We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re part of the resistance.

    Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012, and again in 2016. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Councilmember Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.