Monday’s Rockland City Council meeting was phenomenal. A standing-room-only crowd of 100 or so, people were lined up from the mic all along the rear wall and the opposite side of the City Council chamber. There was a palpable feeling in the room. Something like power, like fear, like community, with all its tensions and intimacies, the feeling of people who are loving, who want to make change, who want to be heard. I think we were all amazed that the room was so overflowing — in every way possible.

In the public comment section, 34 people spoke for 1.75 hours. Nearly all were speaking about the “Resolution of Commitment to Promoting an Open, Respectful, Healthy Community” which is scheduled for a vote at next Monday’s City Council meeting. Be there for that historic vote: March 13, 6 p.m.

While a tiny minority of people spoke against the idea of a resolution entirely, not a single person mentioned wanting a shorter or compromised version. If anything, they said, “We would want more in it, not less.” People spoke passionately of personal experiences, scrubbing red swastikas off their synagogue wall, being yelled at with anti-gay slurs on the street, family histories of fleeing the Nazis, the fear and harassment, the high suicide attempt rates and homelessness of local LGBTQI youth; they spoke of many of our family histories as immigrants, and of the recent KKK activity in our area. They spoke of disability and stigma, of white privilege, and of wanting to make the resolution action, not merely gesture. They spoke of safe harbor, of shelter, of the lighthouse as metaphor.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process. To all the Rockland organizations, businesses, and religious institutions who put themselves out there in support. To all the people who organized behind the scenes. To all the people who, for so many reasons, cannot speak publicly. To the people who spoke against the resolution — while I see things differently, and while some of you expressed anti-LGBTQI opinions which I think have dangerous consequences — I appreciated that you were there for the discussion as well, and in some cases I share some of your concerns — such as the desire to make sure this area doesn’t get so gentrified that elders can’t live here, or the desire to make the Rec Center public again. To the people who spoke, so passionately, so from the heart. Who opened up something in our community. Who revealed vulnerability and pain. Who broke open the heart so often missing in the strict confines of city halls.

Becca Shaw Glaser, Rockland