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    January 11, 2008

    Joe Solmonese's pain in the neck

    Posted by: Chris

    03_08_hrc_enda_02 A couple of weeks after my partner and I arrived in Buenos Aires, I woke up in our temporary flat with a stiff crick in the neck. For days and even weeks after, I could move my head to the left, but to the right past 2 on the clock dial it was no-go.

    I've come to believe that Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese suffers from the same malady, albeit figuratively and politically. He's easily swept up "feeling the pain" of anyone in the sliver that exists to his political left, all while ignoring the legitimate beef of the greater numbers wallowing in the vast terrain of territory to his right.

    The latest evidence of Joe's pain in the neck problem is a story in the Bay Area Reporter about a meeting Solmonese had last week with a number of San Francisco transgender activists. The headline from the encounter was the decision by local activist Theresa Sparks to return the HRC Equality Award she received three years earlier because she says she can no longer stand to look at it due to the recent hostilities over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. (Sparks is the male-to-female transsexual owner of a sex shop called Good Vibrations and heads up the city's Police Commission. Yes… only in San Francisco…)

    Besides Ms. Sparks' flare for drama, the meeting was notable for the extreme lengths Solmonese went to hearing out the concerns of these angry transgender activists -- who have said more personal and vicious things about him and HRC in a short three-month span than Michael Petrelis, Andrew Sullivan and I together have churned out in the last five years. Yet over all those months of criticism about HRC's lack of transparency and overt partisanship, not just from us but throughout the blogosphere and the gay press, Solmonese never once picked up the phone; never suggested a meeting.

    Still, there he was in San Francisco, liberal-guilt-ridden for the apparent crime of supporting the country's most well-known gay politician and the movement's most basic gay rights legislation -- defending himself to transgender activists angry that he hadn't held ENDA hostage indefinitely over a gender identity provision that was nowhere close to passage.

    Trying to reassure them, Solmonese insisted, "We are very much at the beginning of the ENDA process."

    At the beginning? This may be your first time at the rodeo, Joe, but this legislation was first introduced three decades ago and came one vote short of passing the Senate (in much the same form it is today) waaay back in 1996! The Democrats took control of both houses of Congress (exactly) one year ago now, and have yet to pass a single piece of gay rights legislation to even test the president's veto threat.

    Solmonese knows this, of course, but his role as the Democratic Party's de facto gay outreach chair is to deflect heat from this Congress -- call it the hard partisanship of reduced expectations -- and get out the vote for Democrats this November. Whether he has actually been bought off or simply drank the Kool Aid and really believes the interests of movement and party are lock-step intertwined is beside the point.

    It's clearly time for a change and not just in the White House. It's time for the nation's largest gay rights group to be led by someone who puts the movement first and party affiliation second and who will not abandon 99 percent of his constituents in favor of a very loud 1 percent. And it's long past time for the D.C.-Massachusetts mafia that has long pulled the strings at HRC to relinquish control and let someone else have a try. They've had decades now and have absolutely positively nothing to show for it.

    (Photo via Bay Area Reporter/Rick Gerharter, and kudos to him for telling a story of more than 1,000 words with one well-constructed photograph.)



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    1. Michael Petrelis on Jan 11, 2008 2:04:33 AM:

      Folks should also check out Rick Gerharter's web site for other great photos of his. He's been documenting our community for decades and brings an artist's eye to his photography, as we all can see in his front-page photo in the BAR today. Chris, thanks for singling Rick's work out for well-deserved praise.

      Rick is on the web at:

    1. Dawn Keeler on Jan 11, 2008 6:30:18 AM:

      With all due respect, I don't know if you realize just how often you criticize Mr. Solomonese, perhaps jusitified, in all honesty I don't follow his comings and goings, but I know that when a problem bothers me enough I choose to move away from it and into the solution. Have you, Chris, considered being the 'somebody' to replace him, after all remember that Prophetic Call.......

    1. david on Jan 11, 2008 11:03:30 AM:

      Chris -- you have to wake up to the New TransQueer World. They are the new "community" -- apparently. Their new dictats are out and their Thought Police are enforcing them. You may have missed it in Argentina, but up here in North America, gay men who will not have sex with transmen because those transmen have vaginas are now evil right wing sex negative conservative garbage. No longer can men state in many gay publications that male on male sex with penises included is a good thing -- it is not a good thing because it is exclusionary to transmen and people of othered genders/sexualities. You're too young, Chris. Wait another 10 years or so and you will be so nauseated by these developments within your lifetime that you will go back to calling yourself a homosexual and living in the closet so that these TransQueer people can't find you and kick your ass for not loving them the way they demand to be loved. Also you may have missed this item: gay men are flocking to sex with transmen and even women these days -- it's the new gay liberation -- to become liberated from the confines of man-on-man bio-rigidity! Personally, when I read about this whole transman topic, I find myself laughing until I cry.

    1. Nick on Jan 11, 2008 11:22:07 AM:

      I like your blog very much. I believe that the transgender community, their Allies and their trans jackers are hijacking ENDA because it doesn't have what they want. The way these transgender and the trans jackers are demanding things from the LGB is very nauseating and I worry what they will do to the intersex community after they get done with the LGB community.

    1. Stellewriter on Jan 15, 2008 1:12:36 PM:

      THE NEW Pan-Aryan BIGOTRY!

      Since ENDA what are we doing???? The Transgender community has run amuck! What we are now doing stinks! What we as the Trans-community have now ended up doing is no less than acting out the strife that HRC and the greater GLBt wants us to portray. By our infighting and tearing apart of our bonds they become strong. Their self-absorbed and elitist vision for power and control is what drives HRC and the militant gay community. Please, understand that I am not talking about the loving and kind gay community, rather, the Sturmabteilung and backroom body grabbers the likes of Barney Frank and ilk. It is all about diverting the public's attention from their moving into power positions within corporate America and its wealth for strictly self-serving means. It is not about equality. One cannot proclaim equality and ignore others who should share in the rights of common wellbeing. When B. Frank spoke on the floor, he literally was speaking treason and against the very fabric of our constitution and Bill of Rights. It can be said no other way, as the courts have already defined that stance, and, as in the days of Gov. George Wallace, a matter of unconstitutional and discriminatory practice. HRC and the thugs surrounding Joe Solmonese are telling us that we are not welcome to use the public toilets and that we cannot drink from the public fountain.

      They are telling us that we are not fit to hold meaningful jobs; that we are freaks who are not acceptable to society. They did this publically, and in the backroom worked up a plan to keep us divisive so as to be seen as freaks by society. There is no way around the matter. We are the propaganda tool for the "New Elite" or "pan-Aryan" mentality. We are the ones chosen to be maligned and abused so the money - and power-laden gay aristocracy can go unchallenged and unnoticed. While they slide into more and more of the fabric of society carefully showing themselves as relative conservatives in middle-of-the-road family living. We on the other hand are daily sliding into the realm of the bizarre and perceived danger zone. A gay Boy Scout leader is almost now acceptable, but a GID father is to be literally sent to the concentration camps of despair and sure death. It is bigotry, inequality, intolerance, unfairness, chauvinism, sexism, racism, bias, insularity, prejudice…. it is "Discrimination" – Do You Get It?

      The very organization that claims the throne for equality is the single most active force in denying the Transgender simple subsistence. It is the new gay sectarian snobbery, which has worked to control other gay and lesbian enclaves and subordinate them. Worse, they have actively separated and divided the Trans-community so as to use us as a diversion. We are HRC millions behind in ability, and legislatively separated (segregated), and we are ripping each others clothes off exposing our weaknesses. History is repeating itself in an awful way.

      Everyone may see this as radical, but it follows history in great detail. It is a political strategy that has worked. It is working now! I remember clearly the comments of a child of the Holocaust; he said he was dumbfounded to discover that his own father, a minister in 30's Germany, was duped by the propaganda of the era. First it was the Transgender / Effeminates who were singled out, followed by spurious fringe groups, then political threats and press, educators, the church and finally the Jews. I have no doubt that we are duped, and so is the public. No doubt at all.



    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 12:58:56 AM:

      I have no doubt that we are duped, and so is the public. No doubt at all.

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