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Robin Tyler and ‘trickle down’ activism

Marching toward an empty building: "The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass," Rep. Barney Frank told The AP in 2009.

Yesterday evening I posted briefly about activist Robin Tyler’s desires to organize another national LGBT march on Washington, this time in 2012. I pointed to the five alternatives I suggested when activists in San Francisco called for a similar march in 2009, ultimately leading to the National Equality March in October of that year.

I have a few more thoughts to add…

Back in 2006 (0r sometime around then, I’m not entirely sure), Robin Tyler ramped up efforts to organize a national march in 2008. (On a side note: What’s up with organizing these things in huge election years?) I was recruited to start building support for the march in the Greensboro/Triad area of North Carolina. I started a little website, tried to get others involved in the planning processes, spoke to student groups and community members and… the idea went no where. No one I knew then was interested in helping to organize a national march when there was so much work to do on the ground in their schools, communities and in our own home state. The time, money and other resources spent on getting people to Washington, D.C., for a one-day, feel-good, accomplish-nothing rally was better spent organizing locally, lobbying locally and creating change locally.

It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half now since the 2009 National Equality March, and despite big promises of after-march action in all 435 congressional districts across the nation, march organizers (many of whom are now involved in GetEqual) have done nothing to move their mobilized hundreds of thousands toward that goal. Small GetEqual chapters have started up here and there, but nothing has come close to the master plan march organizers had in mind.

Similarly, no one so far has pointed out any single direct benefit gained from any of our community’s past national marches on Washington. I’m willing to listen and weigh the evidence, but as it stands I know of no victories, successes or changes that came as a direct result of encouraging thousands or even hundreds of thousands to blow hundreds or thousands of dollars in traveling for to the national mall for one day’s worth of chanting and holding signs.

Yet, according to the Washington Blade, Robin Tyler is pushing that same old, tired meme that bringing thousands to D.C. will somehow create massive waves of change across the country:

Tyler said the process of organizing a national march would trigger more activity in the states than what is currently taking place under the leadership of both state and national LGBT groups.

“[L]arge national marches on Washington, which take over a year to do on that scale, produce activists and activity from every state,” she said.

National marches do create activists and activity in every state, but the activity is focused on getting people to Washington and money raised for the event. Never in any significant way is the activity focused on creating change at home. This “trickle down” theory to activism is just as flawed as Reaganomics.

National marches on Washington are not effective. They are not effective at creating change in the Capitol. They are not effective at creating change in the states. They certainly aren’t effective at creating change in the thousands of small cities and towns scattered across our country.

If activists like Robin Tyler are truly interested in creating change in this nation, then they would seriously consider giving more support to equality initiatives focused on the state and local levels. Our movement has made significant progress at state and local levels and we stand to make more, if given the resources that is. If you want to have a national gathering, try going to a Creating Change conference. There you’ll at least learn something, meet new and valuable friends and allies and have the real resources to start doing the work of equality at home.

But if education and true motivation to create change is not want you’re really after, then go ahead and plan a national march on Washington. You’ll just spend a day walking and marching and chanting and holding signs. When you go home, you’ll feel really, really good. But you’ll have exactly the same amount of resources you left home with: zero.

(Photo credit: J. Morton Scott, via flickr.)

I’m reminded today of the children’s song:

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

The Washington Blade reported Sunday that veteran activist Robin Tyler is ratcheting up her previous call for a national LGBT march on Washington, D.C., in 2012.

Anyone feeling a bit of deja vu?

I have nothing further to add to the discussion than what I’d already discussed as a response to 2009′s National Equality March. If you care, you can read those “Five Alternatives to the March on Washington” here…

Update: “Robin Tyler and ‘trickle down’ activism”

Last week’s debate over the current state and future of LGBT print media carries into this week, it seems.

Last Tuesday, gay journalist Michael Lavers wrote a piece, “Gay Print Media on the Wane,” for the Village Voice. I responded to that piece with my own thoughts last week, as did other journalists and bloggers. On Friday, I wrapped up a good portion of the week’s discussion at Bilerico.com.

Today, Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff publishes his own response, calling Lavers’ piece an “unfair attack” and claiming Lavers failed to include accurate information, fact check his work or include interviews with the subjects of his article.

Naff writes:

The recent Village Voice story, “Gay print media on the wane,” by Michael Lavers is riddled with factual errors and suffers from conflicts of interest and general amateurishness. Lavers and his editors clearly set out to write a self-serving story about the supposed demise of LGBT news outlets. And they didn’t let pesky facts get in the way of their hypothesis.

Lavers interviewed me for the story and it became clear from the outset that he had already decided what to write — he just needed a few supportive quotes to fill out the piece. Hence, nothing I said to him made it into the final story. He spends significant time writing about the Blade, Window Media and the Advocate, but no one from those entities is quoted or allowed to respond to Lavers’ irresponsible and baseless claims. Instead of talking to professionals working in LGBT media, Lavers quotes an anthropology professor whose qualifications and experience in niche media are never revealed.

Of Lavers’ conflict of interest — which is never disclosed in the story — Naff writes:

What’s more disturbing than the lack of basic fact checking (what an old-school concept!) is that Lavers fails to disclose his work for Edge Media Network, a company he describes as “fast becoming the new gay press establishment,” a grandiose claim he offers no evidence to support. He also conveniently omits the fact that one of Edge’s senior executives, William Kapfer, was an officer of Window Media, the Blade’s former parent company that is criticized in the story. It sounds like Kapfer, an Edge marketer, wrote the story for Lavers.

Read Naff’s full thoughts at WashingtonBlade.com.

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Gay Republicans: Lost in the Twilight Zone?

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man it is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity it is the middle ground between light and shadow between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge this is the dimension of imagination it is an area which we call- the Twilight Zone.

goproudAnd for many, although not all, LGBT Republicans, that’s exactly where they find themselves.

DC Agenda‘s Chris Johnson reports today on further developments with GOProud’s sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). GOProud, an offshoot of the more LGBT-focused Log Cabin Republicans, has come under fire by conservative activists and organizations for their involvement in and co-sponsorship of the event, which takes place this month in Washington, D.C. When calls for CPAC to rescind the GOProud co-sponsorship were ignored, the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University’s Law School announced it would boycott the conference. Continue reading this post…

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Do what love requires

In a post at Bilerico.com, I write a bit on the current controversy bubbling out of the impending marriage equality vote by the Washington, D.C. City Council. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is threatening to pull its social services if the bill passes.

They say their religious freedoms and the freedoms of individuals and small businesses will be threatened by marriage equality.

It is clear we have to face religious issues and use them to our advantage in our next steps toward marriage equality.

Continue reading this post…

qnoteshomepageIt has been a year, this month, since my day job, Q-Notes newspaper, upgraded its website from a mis-matched collection of simple, static HTML pages to a fully automated content management system (CMS). In the year since, I’ve learned a lot about new media and how it complements and improves traditional news-media, including the gay news publishing business.

In Q-Notes‘ case, we chose to use WordPress as a CMS. Really, the “software” is a blogging platform. Its uses, though, are almost limitless. Tweak your site design/template and the way in which you post your information and it makes a great CMS for a small newspaper or magazine; student newspapers across the country, I hear, are using WordPress and other similar blogging platforms as CMS solutions.

The choice was easy for us. WordPress is an open source project. It is free to use and the worldwide community it has spawned provides plenty of technical support and information. It’s amazing, really, that so many people around the world would seem to have a vested interest in something like a blogging platform.

Our online news publishing process before our CMS was cumbersome, slow and horribly out-of-date and behind the times. Prior to our use of a CMS we’d have to wait two weeks before the website was updated. In the most urgent of cases, we’d call up our out-of-office web designer and have him add a small notation regarding a breaking event or news on the front page. WordPress immediately changed the way Q-Notes utilized online mechanisms to publish news. Updating breaking news stories or publishing recent headlines on a daily basis became a reality, improving our connection to readers and keeping our content fresh, exciting and new.

Continue reading this post…

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D.C.’s HIV blame game

Two D.C. bloggers are battling it out over the new HIV number released for Washington, D.C. Three percent of the total population there is now living with HIV.

Black Informant says the cause is risky sexual behavior among the gay and lesbian community. The Washington City Paper‘s Sexist blogger says the cause is more complex than that, pushed upward by increasing rates of new infections among heterosexuals.

I wonder how Black Informant would feel if someone took these numbers and twisted them to say African-Americans were to blame:

And continuing a grim trend from the 2007 report, African Americans are bearing the brunt of this epidemic: 4.3 percent of African Americans in the District are living with HIV/AIDS; 6.5 percent of black men in the city have the disease, and African Americans account for 76 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in the District.

This HIV blame game is stupid and dangerous. It is the reason why the federal government ignored the crisis for so long in the 1980s. Anyone can find a number or statistic, put it in bold text, twist it and use it to attack a minority or community. But that’s not being brave, as Black Informant suggests. Being brave would mean actually doing something to end the crisis, not increase paranoia and prejudice.

While Black Informant is busy trying to find a scapegoat, people are getting infected and infecting others. His energy would be better spent finding a way to end the crisis.

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D.C. House vote bill is unconstitutional?

I feel for D.C. residents. Really, I do. It is a shame that in our Republic the citizens of its capital city are not represented in its legislative bodies.

This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would give one vote in the U.S. House to the representative of the District of Columbia. Currently, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton has the right to speak, among other actions, but has no vote.

But the Senate-passed bill is likely unconstitutional:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

~U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sec. 2.

There’s no doubt in my mind, at least from what I understand from the reading above, that the Constitution is clear: The members of the House of Representatives must be elected by the people of a state. The District of Columbia is not a state.

Through the harrowing, frightening eight years of the Bush Administration, progressives and Constitution-lovers cringed at the various presidential actions that served to only shred our founding documents. It is a shame that Democrats, now in majority power, seek to do the same thing.

The best way for the citizens of D.C. to gain a vote in Congress is to petition the Congress for statehood. Either that, or seek an amendment to the Constitution allowing a voting member from the capital district. That makes the most sense and it is the most constitutional, ethical and moral means to achieving the goal of fair representation of the District of Columbia’s residents.

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Booing Bush was so un-Obama-like

As I watched the inauguration and heard people booing former President George W. Bush, I quickly Twittered, “Wholly inappropriate: Booing the Pres. Bush. Respect the office, respect our nation, respect the institution, even if you hate the man.”

A friend and fellow blogger, Bil of Bilerico.com, replied, “Not at all. Freedom of speech is a fundamental and is there so ppl could criticize our government. Booing is traditional.”

Ah… Freedom of Speech. Thank God for it, or else either Bil or I would have been silenced.

I replied, “Haha. True Bil, True. But freedom doesn’t come without responsibility.”

One line from President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech applies here: “…our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

And, I’d argue, our freedoms, including that of speech, emanates from the same.

Humility. Restraint. I’d add, “respect” and “responsibility.”

These values co-exist and co-depend upon each other in order to make our freedoms work. Take away any of them, our freedom and nation of law and order fail.

We might hate Bush for his decisions and actions. We might think he is evil. Booing him during a ceremony meant to bring America together was wholly inappropriate. A person might have the freedom to do something, to say something, to boo the man who, at the time, was still our President, but having the freedom to do something doesn’t make it appropriate or right.

Obama has stood for a united America. Booing the outgoing President on a day that is supposed to be a uniting day only creates more division. Obama wouldn’t have booed. Obama would have respected the office… the office he now holds.

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Inaugural concert: Powerful symbolism (lost)

From Queerty:

Perhaps the most infuriating moment of the event was when Queen Latifah told the story of Marian Anderson, a black singer who was barred from performing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution and who was subsequently invited to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned her D.A.R membership in protest.

As soon as this story was told, Josh Groban and Heather Headley performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” backed by the D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus, in what was clear meant to be a bit of historical symmetry. However, the only way you’d know that the men singing were gay is by the AIDS ribbons pinned to their chests. Sure, none of the choruses that performed were chyroned, but here was a great symbolic moment that was coded so that only people already aware of its symbolism would get it.