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    December 15, 2008

    HRC's balls are for dancing (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Christmasdiscoballs A reader who is generally a staunch defender of the Human Rights Campaign can't believe the nation's largest gay political group (and a bunch of other Beltway boyz) will be dancing at an "Out for Equality" inugural ball while the rest of gay America burns:

    I happened to zip over to your blog just after the election and saw the news that HRC was planning a Ball. I'll have to say that, for perhaps the first time on a matter this significant, I agree with you.

    I come from a place in my life where I devoted countless hours to a local HRC steering committee in the Midwest, and therefore can offer a first-hand account for the value those smaller organizations have in their communities to make real connections and encourage otherwise complacent gays to give a damn.

    Still, I have to say that now simply doesn't feel like the time to put a smile on our faces and scamper off to an HRC party -- not when we've got amendments and restrictions abounding, and a party that wants us on-board, but doesn't fully fight for our rights. How about we see results before we get too interested in tuxedos and ballrooms. If the New York state Senate is any indication, we've got more than enough time to work on our tans and get those manicures before the big day.

    As you can tell, I was not one of those people dancing in the streets on November 4th and, yes, I was at the rally down at the Capitol. Oddly, I'm leary, upset and, frankly, a little scared right now. Let's see what Hope can do for me.

    Hope But Verify, with President Obama, Democrats in general, and our gay rights lobby groups.

    As I've said many times before, our full equality is an inevitability, absent some major cultural upheaval. The question is whether equality arrives sooner rather than later, as in five years, a decade, a generation, or our lifetimes. One key to the time frame is whether we use our influence effectively to pressure those in power to not just make changes the public already favors overwhelmingly, but actually expend political capital on our behalf.

    Have you ever heard a politician, especially a Democrat, complain in public or private that HRC pushes them too hard? Ever? In my decade close to the action, I have not, firsthand, secondhand or otherwise. That says it all to me, right there.

    Or, as Out for Equality headliner Cyndi Lauper (love her!) puts it in her recent hit, "It's the same ol' fuckin' story..."



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    1. Chuck on Dec 16, 2008 12:03:32 AM:

      Chris, what do you think of about the idea of organizing a 40th Anniversary March on Washington, DC. and how would one go about it?

      I think it would make a very powerful statement, much like the AIDS quilt did.

      I'd love to her your thoughts on the matter. I've also emailed Randy Wicker who has been a gay rights activist since way before Stonewall to see what he thinks about the idea.

    1. Chris on Dec 16, 2008 2:54:42 AM:

      If done right it would be a great idea, although I think you mean 30th anniversary march, since the very first gay rights March on Washington was October 14, 1979. Maybe you're thinking of some Mattachine-type protest 10 years earlier? Of 40 years since Stonewall?

      I love the idea of national marches, and we are way overdue for one. When HRC caught grief for planning the Millennium March, I defended them against all comers. Barney Frank and othe bah-humbugs complained that national marches are far less effective than writing or visiting your congressman. Barney et al missed the point.

      Almost every activist I know over age 35 or so traces their first motivation to get involved back to one of the national marches ('79, '93 or '00). Ultimately, marches are most effective for initiating and re-energizing activists and the movement as a whole, not for their direct impact on policy. And their impact on policy is often to put the heat on our supposed allies in Washington, including well-intentioned partisans like Barney.

      That said, any national march this time should definitely NOT be planned and produced by HRC or the Beltway gays. The grassroots Join the Impact crew that produced the National Day of Protest last month would be absolutely ideal.

      From the bottom up, sans commercialization, and focused on marriage and relationship recognition, not the sideline issues HRC is still panhandling.

    1. GMRinSAN on Dec 16, 2008 2:47:47 PM:

      Great idea - I'd fly to D.C. to join that, and I know many others from San Diego who would do the same.

      Chuck - have you posted this on Join the Impact yet?

    1. Chuck on Dec 16, 2008 6:56:03 PM:

      My apologies. I should have made myself clearer on that. A fellow blogger on Queerty raised this same question and I simply followed in his footsteps with regard to calling it a 40th Anniversary March based on the Stonewall Riots which occurred on June 28, 1969.

      Either event, the Stonewall Riots or the very first Gay Rights March on Washington on October 14, 1979, would be an ideal basis upon which schedule a new March on Washington in 2009. Whether we call it a 30th Anniversary or a 40th Anniversary March is not nearly so important as the issue we are trying to bring to the attention of our nations leaders, as well as the general public itself. I am certain that one would be as successful as the other.

      One slight advantage of using the Stonewall Riots date is that the weather would still be warm, unlike mid October, which could be a little chilly for such an event, especially for older marchers with health issues to consider.
      Just a passing thought.

      I agree fully with your comments about the high visibility of marches and their impact on all segments of society, including our own. It’s a great consciousness awakening and motivational tool and as such, can be very effective in bringing about change.

      Disenchanted as many of us are with HRC, I could not agree with you more that they or any other top-down organization should NOT be involved with the planning or production of such an event. Your endorsement of the grassroots Join the Impact crew is precisely what I wanted to hear. And yes, the March will be focused on marriage and relationship recognition, not doing the bransle, an old French follow-the-leader dance the HRC still cherishes and clings to.

      I will compose a letter to Join the Impact, post haste, citing your endorsement of them as the prime choice organization for such an endeavor.

      Thank you ever so much, Chris, for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me on this on this proposal. It’s very much appreciated, I assure you.

    1. Chuck on Dec 16, 2008 9:10:05 PM:

      This is the text of an email I just sent to Join the Impact.
      I would have like to have addressed a letter, directly to someone in a position of authority but, unfortunately, email was the only available option that came up when I clicked the contact button.

      December 16, 2008

      I am writing at the suggestion of Chris Crain, who as you probably are already aware of, is the owner and editor of Citizen Crain, an independent gay blog on the Internet.

      I am a frequent reader of and a blogger on Citizen Crain who compiles and writes articles of vital interest and concern to the LGBT community. And like Mr. Crain, I am deeply committed to the equality of all Americans, gay and straight alike.

      While the passing of Yes on Proposition 8 in California and similar propositions in Arizona, Arkansas and Florida were crushing defeats for the LGBT community as a whole, these setbacks were especially devastating for some 32,000 multinational partnered gay people like Mr. Crain and I who, unlike heterosexual couples, cannot sponsor our foreign-born partners for American citizenship.

      As you are no doubt also aware of, we are coming up on the anniversaries of two momentous events in gay history.

      Come June 28, 2009, we will be observing the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that took place in Greenwich Village, New York on June 28, 1969.

      On October 14, 2009, we will also be observing the 30th Anniversary of the very first gay rights March on Washington on October 14, 1979. I had the good fortune of being present at both events.

      The thought has occurred to a number of we bloggers that either of these two important dates present an excellent opportunity to stage a new March on Washington, from the bottom up, sans commercialization, and focused on marriage and relationship recognition rather than the sideline issues HRC and other top down organizations are still advocating.

      Paraphrasing Mr.Crain, “Ultimately, marches are most effective for initiating and re-energizing activists and the movement as a whole, not for their direct impact on policy. And their impact on policy is often to put the heat on our supposed allies in Washington, including well-intentioned partisans like Barney Frank.”

      I could not have stated it any better myself.

      As producers of the very successful National Day of Protest last month, both Mr. Crain and I feel that Join the Impact crew would be absolutely perfect and ideal to organize and produce it. We are both exceedingly hopeful that you will give this idea your close consideration and let us know your thoughts and feelings on this suggestion at your earliest convenience.


      Charles J. Mueller
      Tampa, Florida

    1. William Hamilton on Dec 16, 2008 11:41:30 PM:

      Ah yes, I can see it now, two million Fairy's amongst the Cherry Blossoms! I know I'd be there for sure.


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