Dozens of people gathered in the cold in Baltimore on Thursday night to protest something that had yet to pass: an anti-LGBT executive order they feared could flow from the pen of President Donald Trump at any time.
No such order had been signed, but they felt they'd already been put on notice — both by alleged drafts of orders that would target the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and by actual orders they feel target other vulnerable communities such as Muslims, refugees and immigrants.
The uncertainty as to whether the LGBT community would be next was disorienting, they said, but they couldn't let it be unsteadying. And they were not about to give the president the benefit of the doubt.
"Even if something horrible hasn't happened yet, you have to put strength out there," said Perri Brierley-Bowers, 24, of Charles Village.
"It's all this lurching with Trump. Just lurch, lurch, lurch," said Brian Gaither, whose group Pride Foundation of Maryland helped organize the small rally in the outdoor Ynot Lot space on North Avenue, in the city's Charles North neighborhood.
Many attending the rally had heard last week about a possible executive order rescinding Obama-era workplace protections for LGBT people. The White House heard, too, and responded to questions about the rumored order by releasing a statement rejecting it as false.
"President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election," the statement said. "The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression."
After that statement, some in the LGBT community said, "Oh, it's fine," Gaither said. "But that really wasn't true."
Soon, new fears formed, this time around another rumored order that would allegedly provide cover for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious grounds.
That rumored order seemed to be the largest looming threat at the moment, those at the rally said. But then, they said, who knows? Tomorrow it could be something new.
"Strategizing is something that needs to happen now," said Anna Wolfe, 24, of Bolton Hill.
"Especially with the nominee who's just been put up," said Steven Love, 29, of Pikesville, referring to Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, who prominent LGBT organizations have accused of being hostile toward the LGBT community.
"As intense as everything feels, it's really good to come and sit with people and feel grounded," Wolfe said.
"There's a lot in the air," said Carolyn Shayte, 24, of Charles Village, who said she came to the rally to get ideas for pressuring local politicians — Baltimore's many Democrats, but also Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — to stand up to Trump.
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