One person can make a difference. That’s what Forman School student Julian Blum ’17 is reminding us this week. In just six weeks, the high school senior has taken an idea – Not Straight Against Hate – and turned it into a following with thousands of members who will march in a peaceful protest in New York City this weekend.
The rally to “defend and protect LGBTQ rights and freedoms” will begin at 3:00pm at Washington Square Park, and a march to Trump Tower will commence at 5:00pm on Saturday, December 17. Blum describes his group as a “great community of people that want to speak out against hate,” which includes those in the LGBTQ community as well as supporters.
It all started when Blum decided to take action and create the Facebook event the day after the U.S. Presidential Election. “I felt very targeted as an LGBTQ person,” Blum says, adding that he hoped it would help others in his community come together. “It is more crucial than ever to protect our rights, stand up against hatred, ignorance, bigotry, and USE OUR VOICES. The power of the people always prevails,” he wrote on the page. The immediate response was overwhelming: “When I woke up the next morning, there were already hundreds of RSVPs. People started telling stories about how this was bringing them together even in their own families.”
The organization has continued to grow, and the protest now counts over 6,400 RSVPs and over 20,000 people interested in attending. NBC News and TimeOut have also featured the group. “It has become less about Trump and more about telling people how we feel. The only thing we can do is come together and support each other,” Blum explains. And some of the student’s biggest supporters are right at Forman. “Teachers are donating; my friends are all coming; everybody is with me. It’s more than just politics – it’s a community.”
Planning has now become a significant time commitment and when Blum isn’t in class or planning for college, he is taking phone calls from the many allies who have offered to help with his event. “I think it is noteworthy that Julian created his organization and a protest while applying to colleges and music schools as a senior and while finishing an important semester,” his teacher, Kelly Munn, says. “This is real, relevant work during an already stressful and busy time!”
Not Straight Against Hate will be LIVE streaming the rally on Instagram (@nsahofficial). Blum hopes to plan another event in the near future featuring speakers and musicians. Keep up with the latest happenings on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.