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    July 13, 2007

    Eternally-bitter, combative me

    Posted by: Chris

    "Bloggernista," an occasional reader of this blog who hides behind a pseudonym on his own, takes a shot at Andrew Sullivan and me for criticizing the Human Rights Campaign-Logo "forum" of Democratic presidential candidates. In a cross-post on his blog and Pam's House Blend and Bilerico, he writes this under the headline "Fight the Right, Not Each Other":

    Even now as the Senate is set to debate the federal hate crimes bill, much of the energy among progressive LGBT activists is focused on attacking the Human Rights Campaign for a political forum featuring presidential candidates. … This just goes to show that we are not nearly as politically sophisticated as we would like to believe ourselves to be and that our activism is steeped in personal self-expression rather than a focus on political effectiveness. … HRC staff should have recognized that eternally bitter homocons like Andrew Sullivan and Chris Crain would piss all over their efforts no matter what…

    He goes on to acknowledge "comments" by Pam Spaulding that criticized HRC for not including a real journalist as a moderator and Bloggernista's own view that Mike Gravel should have been invited.

    You just have to love the irony in a blog post with the headline "Fight the Right, Not Each Other," which then proceeds to fight each other, and not the right.

    So "Bloggernista" thinks Andrew Sullivan and I are being "eternally bitter homocons" for registering criticism about the HRC candidates forum, while Pam Spaulding's "comments" about the event were on point. How does that work exactly? Pam and I raised the same issues, as did Andrew. But we're bitter while her points are well taken. I'm glad we're not wasting time on senseless fights with each other!

    In fact, I posted a second time yesterday crediting HRC with deciding they need a real journalist moderator and saying I wasn't bothered by the exclusion of Mike Gravel. So, in reality, "Bloggernista" and Pam were more critical of HRC than eternally-bitter me.

    Here's our fundamental difference in strategy, from my point of view (and crazy me for thinking the blogosphere was supposed to be the kind of place we had these types of open discussions without shushing each other up):  "Bloggernista" seems to think we win our equality by "fighting the right." I disagree. I think we win our equality -- and much faster, btw -- by pressuring those who say they support our rights to expend political capital on our behalf.

    Otherwise, they will act only after the societal consensus is so overwhelming that there's no risk at all to supporting us.  "Bloggernista" can wait for that distant day, and in the meantime make himself feel better by pointing out obvious silliness of "wingnuts" and the like.  I'd rather focus on the here and now, and converting gay-friendly rhetoric into the passage of gay-friendly legislation.

    You want to see the hate crime law passed? The immediate problem is not "the right."  It's whether leading Democrats will make it a priority to keep the amendment in the DoD authorization bill and then not blink if Bush threatens veto.



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    1. jimbo on Jul 13, 2007 3:07:12 PM:

      I think it is very, very important to scrutinize and critique these self-appointed leaders of the gay community. It keeps 'em on their toes. I prefer my humongous institutionalized filthy rich organizations to be running, fit and trim, not bloated and morbidly obese, barely able to make it up the stairs. Chris Crain is a Jack Russell Terrier yipping at the heels of HRC. Sullivan may be a beagle.

    1. KipEsquire on Jul 13, 2007 3:10:40 PM:

      B'nista didn't attack my post too? I'm jealous of you. ;-)

      P.S. I think you mean "pseudodym," not "acronym" (some people also use "blogonym").

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 13, 2007 3:45:10 PM:

      Oops thanks for the catch. Now corrected... :)

    1. Bloggernista on Jul 13, 2007 4:03:56 PM:


      I do not believe that we will advance our fight for equality simply by taking on the right. I agree with you that we will make faster gains by pushing the Democrats to be bolder in advocating for LGBT civil rights which is something that I say in my post. But, I think we will make even faster gains by being willing to get down and politically dirty to combat the right-wing smear and pressuring the Democrats to expend political capitol on our issues.

      Pam Spaulding smacks HRC when she feels that they do something wrong, but she also acknowledges when the organization does something good. She is tough, but fair and I respect. You criticize without acknowledge the good work. I don't read every word that you write, so feel free to point out a post or two where you have given HRC credit for its efforts.

      I do appreciate some of the things that you have written about in the past particularly around immigration issues and how they affected LGBT people. I have not tried to shush, so don't claim that I have.

      Where we differ is, I think, is that I believe in pointing when groups do something good as well as when they do something bad. In my mind that's only fair.

      In your comment you pointed out that the issue now in getting the hate crimes bill through the Senate is making sure that the Democrats make it a priority to keep the amendment in the DOD reauthorization bill. I could not agree more and that was a key point of my post. Let's focus less energy on Gravel and the HRC forum and more time urging the Democrats to stand firm on the hate crimes amendment.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 13, 2007 4:24:56 PM:

      OK "Bloggernista" -- btw why don't you come out already? Aren't we too proud these days to be hiding behind pseudonyms?

      Look -- it's hypocritical to scold us about wasting energy fighting each other while slamming Andrew and me as "eternally bitter homocons" -- especially when your specific criticism isn't justified. You can't have it both ways.

      I have written positive things about HRC. I linked to my post just yesterday crediting them for adding a moderator and defending them for excluding Mike Gravel.

      I wrote effusively in praise of HRC's presidential candidate questionnaire as well, although I thought their "scorecard" shorthanded things in a way that favored Hillary and Obama.

      Finally, I object to being labeled a "homocon." Andrew clearly self-identifies as a conservative and has written a book about reclaiming that philosophy from those he calls "the Christianists."

      I can't imagine any measure by which I qualify as conservative, although I do agree with Andrew on many things. I was tremendously impressed by his book "The Conservative Soul," but came away feeling like he's still engaging in an internal conversation that will ultimately lead him to identify as a progressive.

      That's certainly how I see myself.

    1. Bloggernista on Jul 13, 2007 4:35:47 PM:


      Okay, maybe it was a bit harsh to label you a homocon. You are right that you have said some positive things about HRC in the past. I have also said that I appreciate the work that you have done to focus attention on LGBT immigration issues.

      I do think that we, and when I say "we," I am including myself, are spending too much time on Gravel and the HRC/Logo forum and not enough time on urging folks to contact their senators in support of the hate crimes bill.

      I admit that on a few things I agree with Andrew as well. my point is that we, again including myself, get caught up in tangents, and sometimes lose sight of the larger goal.

    1. Sean on Jul 13, 2007 8:08:26 PM:

      I think we should keep gay people and those that support our equal freedom accountable. However I don't think the best political plan is to just go after our supporters. After a while they will flake off so they don't have to be under pressure from gay people AND those that hate gay people. Their are many registered republicans because they hate gay people. Controlling our lives is their number one issue. If we don't make allies on both sides we will continue to have a party that supports bigotry.

    1. Malcontent on Jul 13, 2007 8:34:05 PM:

      There is a long and proud history of the pseudonym (http://tinyurl.com/2kdube), particularly in American politics, and I think knocking bloggers for using them is a bit shopworn.

      Not all of us have the luxury of "coming out" on our blogs. I used to blog under my full name, and when it became an issue at work, I chose to go partially back into the blogging closet—to preserve both what I felt was my right to free speech, as well as my job.

    1. Kevin on Jul 14, 2007 8:47:33 AM:

      Chris: Can I get an Amen? I agree with what you've said here (and said, and said) 100%, and it seems Bloggernista's only gripe here is that you stray too far from the solidarity-forever line, and how dare you not praise our glorious and wonderful "friends" more often or you won't have "credibility" in the gay community or somesuch. Come on! HRC spends enough money showering itself with enough praise that it doesn't need it from Chris Crain to be able to get out of bed in the morning. Bloggernista - we don't need great big hugs to win our battle; nor do we need to bathe ourselves in some neurotic martyrdom over the lunatics on the far right. (Frankly, Chris Crain's own tireless, journalistic coverage of hate crimes around the world is testament to his not living with any blinders on there.) How about we stop this self-aggrandizing name-calling (indeed, so ironically titled was the first grenade lobbed here) and realize that everyone has a role to play, and at least SOMEONE here has to sound the clarion horn.

    1. Tim on Jul 14, 2007 3:40:30 PM:

      i think Homocon is a great label and will be using it!
      Let the Homocon legions march across the earth spreading buggery, and sunless tanning cream!!

    1. Sean on Jul 14, 2007 11:21:44 PM:

      Kevin I don't agree with you at all. The fact that progress is very slow for our civil rights is a testimony of us (gay people) not sticking together and not supporting each other enough.

    1. Double T on Jul 16, 2007 2:37:51 AM:

      You are entitled to whatever opinion you want.
      This is still America (or Brazil, or where-ever).

      Couple Questions.
      1) Why do you criticize HRC?
      Let’s face it. You publicly say they don’t speak for you, and you claim they lie about their membership. So why bother?
      Come on, Chris, the KKK says they speak for all white blonde southerners, but you ignore them. So what’s REALLY behind your beef with HRC?

      2) Where are the gay republicans? Where is your criticism of the log cabin boys? Does anyone ever hear from these guys? Talk about a group of self loathing individuals that you really could use the critiqing, but nothing.

      I hope I'm not being too rude, or hurt your feelings

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jul 16, 2007 1:50:04 PM:

      "You publicly say they don’t speak for you, and you claim they lie about their membership. So why bother?"

      Well, in my case, because they insist on linking "gay rights" to unrelated causes, and their leaders support, give money to, and endorse politicians who they otherwise would call homophobic ( http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2007/02/lets-see-if-we-can-follow-bouncing.html , http://www.washblade.com/2004/8-13/news/national/emily.cfm , http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001999067_kerrygay07.html ) because they're Democrats.

      Given that Log Cabin refused to endorse the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 2004, but HRC, Stonewall Democrats, etc. dumped millions of dollars and wholehearted endorsements to a candidate who proudly proclaimed he had "the same position" ( http://instapundit.com/archives/033483.php ) as said Republican candidate.....what, exactly, are you calling "self-loathing"?

      And that, really, is the problem here. HRC supports hate campaigns -- both Mike Rogers and John Aravosis admitted that HRC staffers were helping them carry out attacks on gay Republicans -- because they're "self-loathing"....but the HRC organization and its leaders themselves support and fully endorse FMA and state constitutional amendment supporters, and support gay staffers of Democrats who support amendments that they used to claim were "antigay" ( http://www.nyblade.com/2004/5-7/news/national/kerry.cfm ).

    1. Kevin on Jul 16, 2007 3:29:06 PM:

      Sean: a movement without self-criticism and self-analysis is a movement heading nowhere. Yes, we need to support each other more, but not at the expense of dissent, otherwise we end up with "successes" like DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act being voted for and signed into law by some of our best "friends", without any leverage in our hands to do anything about it before, during or after. And we have to stop carrying on like a bunch of whiny brats, too, when constructive criticism arises from intelligent, experienced and deeply committed people like Chris Crain. In short, we'd get a lot further if we all (and I mean ALL) started acting like adults.

    1. Kevin on Jul 16, 2007 3:31:43 PM:

      p.s.....Sean, so explain your reply to me again cuz I just re-read it and I'm lost. Are you saying HRC is failing to get anywhere with legislative successes because the gay community is not praising it enough, or giving it enough money? HUH?

    1. Double T on Jul 16, 2007 3:32:58 PM:

      Thank you for the links. I'll try to digest all of the information as quickly as time permits.

      I do have another question. And I’m truly NOT trying to be a smart ass.

      What do you believe is the biggest single political issue facing the gay community today?

      I don’t believe its marriage. Why? Because I don’t “see” or sense a mandate from the LGBT community. I’ve never seen a survey on the subject. But here’s how I see it, 1/3 are for gay marriage, 1/3 are opposed and 1/3 does not care.

      Now I must admit hearing anyone in the gay community opposed to gay marriage surprised me. One such case was Sir Elton John (and yes I know he is now married ) on a radio interview back in Atlanta. He said at that time he was absolutely opposed, not really of gay marriage, but he wanted to avoid gay divorce and the expense that accompanies it.

      My fear is the fastest way to elect a republican is to talk about gay marriage. And I’m starting to wish the Demo’s would put it on the “back burner” for now.

      And yes, I sort of understand your situation, and I’m not trying to direct this at you and yours, I’m thinking globally( well, nationally ).

    1. Kevin on Jul 16, 2007 3:37:07 PM:

      Double T:

      Interesting things you say. Start blogging.

      And in reply to "My fear is the fastest way to elect a republican is to talk about gay marriage. And I’m starting to wish the Demo’s would put it on the “back burner” for now." ----

      How about the fastest way to win our rights is for US to demand them, and to stand up and tell the truth about our lives at every single opportunity, and judge both political parties on how they respond? We have 10 million armchair strategists in this movement, it seems, and precious few willing to stand up and tell the truth for the world to hear, fearlessly.

    1. Double T on Jul 16, 2007 5:36:18 PM:


      You sound like a highly principled person. You may be a better man than I.
      But I’m taking the “practical approach” to elections. Some sacrifices’ must be made.
      Some in this blog act like no progress has been in gay rights. What planet are they from?
      I’m 42 years old. On the day I was born, you could be placed in asylum for being gay( in most states). Today openly gay people hold some of the highest positions in society, not bad for a mere 40 years. Black Americans had to wait 100 years just to vote.

      Gay Marriage. Here’s where I stand, I’ll probably never use it. In principle I agree that gays should move from our second class status into full citizenship.

      Here’s the problem Demo’s face. Every time Gay Marriage comes up, they are on the defense. They need to take the battle to the Republicans. Here’s what I wanted to see, the Republicans charged forward to “defend” marriage.

      Democrats should join in. The Democrats should agree to ban gay marriage everywhere to help their fellow politician “defend” marriage. HOWEVER, the Republicans must demonstrate that they are sincere. Like adding a clause that would ban heterosexual divorce. You know, like it says in the Bible.
      ….I’m sorry…..what’s that …..you Republicans are turning your back on the Bible???!!!

      The thing about bashing “Gay Marriage” is that it doesn’t cost the Republicans anything.
      Once you make it political expensive, even a little expensive and they will move on.

      And yes, I fully expect to be "bashed" for these comments LOL.

    1. Sean on Jul 16, 2007 5:56:44 PM:

      Double T, you are very insulting. I'm not putting myself or people like me out of the game because of some political party. You won't be talking the way you do if Bill Clinton held his promises on gay issues. Instead he buckled because gay people are a small voting group that has little power so you can deny their rights without a large backlash. Marriage is still on the table for me. It's the biggest issue behind hate crimes law.

      Kevin, gay groups and people need to be supported when they do things rights.

    1. Double T on Jul 16, 2007 7:54:12 PM:

      Sean, “ I am very insulting”, great, and I was typing this with velvet gloves on too.
      What is insulting? The truth? Every time gay marriage comes up, some long shot Republican gets elected. Hello!?!

      Is it my fault that a majority of the gay community is against/ or indifferent to gay marriage? Please, you just hang out with other gay couples of a like mind. Nothing wrong with that. But are you in touch with the average Queer Joe on the street?

      If the community changed its’ collective mind; gay marriage would be legal overnight. I truly people in my heart, that the gay community could do ANYTHING, if they want it.The gay community has done amazing work getting money from the same government that passed the DOMA, for Aids Research.

      When’s the last time you marched for gay marriage?? Pride?? Please you and your husband don’t even show up at Pride anymore because it’s beneath you. And you wonder why the community does not support you. Let me end with the most insulting thing I can think to say.

      “Ask not what your LGBT community can do for you; ask what you can do for your LGBT community”.
      ( this blog should be read while listening to loud, patriotic music )

      Thank you and God Bless America

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 17, 2007 11:13:42 AM:

      Interesting comment thread here. Thanks to all for participating. A few thoughts from me:

      Malcontent: You know I respect you and the work you guys do on your blog. But ultimately I think people should stand behind what they say with their full names, first and last. One of the things that makes the Internet such a treacherous place to attempt real discourse is too many people hide behind pseudonyms to say things they'd never say with their name attached -- and for good reason. We'd go a long way toward improving the quality of dialogue generally if our reputations were more closely aligned with our keyboards.

      Double T: My answer echoes Kevin's. The gay media and blogosphere has a watchdog role to play over large institutions within our movement, including HRC. I would do it even if I were convinced it has no impact, but I am very convinced that it does: both in what HRC et al does and in what they know better than to try.

      What's the most important gay issue? Hands down: legal recognition for gay couples. It impacts many multiple times more gay Americans than workplace or housing bias or hate crimes. Gays in the military is a close second; not because of the numbers it impacts but because, like legal recognition for gay couples, it represents official discrimination by our government (vs. bias in the private sector).

      Do I consider gay marriage at the core of that battle? Absolutely. Should we settle for incremental progress on the way to marriage equality? Absolutely.

    1. Double T on Jul 17, 2007 12:56:18 PM:


      I must confess I am some what new to the “blog world”, perhaps I’m not following all the blog-rules. I’ll try my best to do the right thing.

      First, I never said I was OPPOSED to gay marriage. I believe the way the battle is being fought is incorrect, and a new strategy is needed. I did list some of the problems, which I noticed no one wanted to address.

      Second, I did not challenge whether or not the Good Mr. Crain has the right to question gay activist, CLEARLY HE HAS THIS RIGHT (and God bless him). I only questioned why it seemed one-sided……to me. ( I’ll keep reading Chris, perhaps you’ll surprise me)

      Third, ……….“One of the things that makes the Internet such a treacherous place to attempt real discourse is too many people hide behind pseudonyms to say things they'd never say with their name attached -- and for good reason.”………I can understand that pseudonyms could be a bad thing, if a person is making threats or conducting an illegal activity. Fine, I get that. But if a person is “thinking” something, they should be “saying” it as well. Let me ask the question, If I had used my full name, would it have made a difference? Do you feel the need to “hunt” me down? What’s with this name fetish?

      The internet allows people to be extremely liberated. To have a voice when others shout at them to be silent. To escape the very rigid roles we place on gender and race. Regrettable our society is placing too much importance, not on the idea, but on the individual. Ancient Greeks would be very proud to see so many still chanting the motto, “Kill the Messager”……………Life is short, I do wish everyone the best life possible.

    1. Sean on Jul 17, 2007 2:04:01 PM:

      I very much believe in Gay Pride celebrations. They are a vital part of the community.

      I think the reason why some gay people do not fight for marriage is because they believe they won't get it and they are sick of fighting.

      Double T, Bill Clinton signed DOMA and DADT to win the election so why should we put ourselves on the backburner when Democrats do that stuff. It won't do us any good. If a Democrat wins in a conservative area they will sign anti-gay bills to maintain their seat. That is what happens regardless of whether gay issues were in the campaign or not.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jul 17, 2007 2:11:53 PM:

      "One of the things that makes the Internet such a treacherous place to attempt real discourse is too many people hide behind pseudonyms to say things they'd never say with their name attached -- and for good reason."

      You may argue, for one, that Ben Franklin diminished the veracity and acceptance of his revolutionary writings by failing to give his name. However, had he done so, he likely would never have been able to write at all; he would have been either jailed directly, or so completely harassed by the British governments and its sympathizers that he would have been virtually unemployable or capable of earning a living, much less of having time to author such letters and pieces.

      In a similar fashion, gay bloggers, especially those who espouse views contrary to the established HRC/leftist line, have their families ( http://www.interstateq.com/archives/2121/ ), employers ( http://www.outletradio.com/grantham/archives/001840.php ), and friends ( http://www.haloscan.com/comments/christian025/1840/#47040 ) harassed and attacked by individuals like John Aravosis, Dan Savage, Mike Rogers, Mike Signorile, and all their minions. These folks publish peoples' names, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as their family members's similar data, and encourage others, in the words of one commentor, to "make them all bleed" ( http://northdallasthirty.blogspot.com/2007/06/tiresome-but-not-surprise-some.html ).

      And all this is done with the encouragement and support of gay organizations like HRC and LCR and their staffers, as Aravosis and Rogers have publicly admitted -- and with funding provided by leftist Democrats, such as Louise Slaughter and others, who hire people like Rogers and Aravosis as "consultants".

      As the case of James Barnett shows ( http://www.houstonvoice.com/2004/12-17/news/localnews/school.cfm ), the anonymity of the Internets can serve an extremely useful and protective purpose from all directions. It thus seems incomprehensible that we would attempt to eliminate it, or attempt to marginalize the ideas expressed by an anonymous or pseudonymous author based solely on their choice of whether or not to reveal their identity -- especially since there are such real and painful consequences for those who dare to defy HRC and its established gay leftist dogmas.

    1. Double T on Jul 17, 2007 7:18:34 PM:

      North Dallas Thirty,

      Bravo!!!!! Freedom of Speech is alive and well. Thank you.

      Now, on that other stuff, “leftist dogma” blah, blah, blah. You and I will have to agree to disagree. I was going to write something really mean, but that would be childish. Forgive me for even thinking it.

      As for HRC, ahh…..it’s not the Mafia. Tony Soprano isn’t taking out a hit on you. Let’s not totally demonize this group. If they don’t speak for you great. Don’t donate any money to them. I am amazed at the hate that rains down on this poor group. I mean really, some people act like they are the end all to be all.

      Come on people, cheer up. Smile.

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