Fear wasn’t on Ali Lozano’s mind last week as police handcuffed her and four of her friends in front of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The junior was arrested while protesting for marriage equality with the New York-based direct action civil disobedience group, Queer Rising who was on site to garner support for marriage equality.
Lozano knew it was likely she would be arrested due to the Queer Rising’s plan to hold an event each month that guaranteed arrest until the marriage equality bill is brought to the state’s Congress again. For the April 4 protest, the group planned to block traffic outside of the governor’s office with a 75-foot banner featuring Cuomo’s phone number.
“The only thing I could think of [while we were being handcuffed] was, we are being put in jail right now for demanding basic rights that we should already have,” Lozano said.
Lozano, who came out in 2009 and who currently works as a student coordinator at the LGBT Resource Center on campus, was held for 25 hours and transferred between two facilities. She has a court date set for May in response to her protests last Monday.
Natasha Dillon, the founder of Queer Rising, invited Lozano to the event.
“[Dillon] e-mailed me and just said, ‘What are you doing on April 4?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. What am I doing on April 4?’ ” Lozano said.
Lozano met Dillon a year ago when the two were detained at a GetEQUAL – a D.C. direct action group – protest that interrupted a congressional hearing while the group advocated for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, but after, it was just such an empowering experience, I’ve taken it a step further,” Lozano said.
Despite her arrest, Lozano stands behind her decision to attend the protest.
“Everyone deserves these rights. I don’t know why I wouldn’t have done it. There was no hesitation,” she said.
Knowing that the protest last Monday would inevitably result in arrests, Lozano reached out to her grandmother a few weeks ago who showed support despite being uncomfortable with her granddaughter being in jail. The night before the protest, Lozano also called her mother to explain what she would be doing.
“She told me that she was proud of me, that she supported me and if I needed bail money to give her a call,” Lozano said.
Lozano said she picked the direct action and arrestable route instead of a “structured non-arrestable route” because she gets angry when people tell those suffering from discrimination to wait and be patient.
“I don’t understand how someone can tell a gay couple whose marriage is not recognized that they are not going to be able to file taxes together, that they are not going to get the same health insurance benefits because they are gay,” Lozano said. “I just don’t understand how you can tell people like that to wait. I think that that is extremely insulting. I think it’s insulting and it’s disgusting and it makes me really angry.”
Her actions last Monday have been heralded with a huge amount of support from the GW community, she said. Lozano said that a friend showed her the YouTube video of her arrest just after she was released and that she did not expect GW students to find out as quickly as they did. When she was able to access her phone, she had received over 100 facebook notifications supporting her.
While Lozano’s real passion is working with LGBT youth, in the future she may move to New York or San Francisco to work with an LGBT organization. But for now she seems content to make waves through civil disobedience.
“I choose civil disobedience, because it is saying it’s a direct statement, it is a clear statement that we cannot wait anymore, that we have waited enough and we are done waiting and so that is why I do it,” Lozano said.