Politics: In Defense of Gay Inc.
Submission by Anthony Moll, first-time contributor.
Anthony Moll is a pansexual atheist veteran living and working in the mid-Atlantic region. He is a writer, artist and all-around storyteller. He can be found ranting about current events, the arts and life at www.crowdedwayoflife.com
Disclosure: The author has worked in the communication department for the Human Rights Campaign as recently as March of 2011. I have since left HRC on good terms, and the views expressed here are his own.
You may have heard that earlier this week, in coordination with the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a group of vandals that the LGBT media has labeled ‘rowdy queers’ attacked the HRC Store and Action Center by throwing light bulbs filled with paint at the building and by spray painting the sidewalk outside of the store with the word “Stonewall.”
The group released a press release after the attack, accepting responsibility for the event, and explaining their actions in the most theatrical of rhetoric. An excerpt follows:
We’ve got good reason. This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
On the night of June 28, 1969, New York City’s Public Morals Squad did a routine raid of an East Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Everything was going fine until, in the midst of the standard genital check that police forced on draq queens, a lesbian beaned a cop straight in the head with a ripped-up parking meter. And so queer liberation was born.
Why, you’re asking, did we specifically target the HRC, a massive national gay rights non-profit as opposed to vomiting urine on Rick Santorum or something equally fun?
Put simply, they suck. What do they suck? Cash. Lots of it.
The HRC rakes in something approaching 50 million dollars a year in revenue–their executive director, Joe Salmonellamayonaisemanese pulls in a salary of several hundred grand. What have we gotten out of this bloated carcass? Not a thing worth mentioning and every now and then, they eagerly sell trans people up the river. Seriously, this is an organization that hordes money and does nothing useful. It’s a sad, sick dinosaur
I understand that there is some animosity toward the larger LGBT groups in Washington. HRC in particular has quite a negative reputation, largely stemming from the salary of their senior leadership and their work on a 2007 version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that did not include protections for Transgender folk, among other things.
HRC isn’t perfect; I myself am concerned with the way the organization chooses to spend its money. But is this the way our community should express its tactical disagreements? With opponents fighting hard against legal protections for LGBTQ people, can we afford to waste our energy and resources on throwing paint at each other? With both legal and cultural oppression still rampant, do we want to be caught posing as radicals rather than actually joining the fight?
I’m saying that these queers are exactly that: posers. The opinions expressed in the release are not only out-dated, they are largely inaccurate. Perhaps they haven’t heard of the HRC Foundation, which offers scholarships to LGBT youth, and is working across the country to resolve issues of adoption, workplace and religious inclusion, and more through community outreach and education. Or perhaps they don’t know that HRC donates time and money to outreach organizations and state-level activists.
Or perhaps they haven’t heard that the LGBTQ community has had some big victories in the last couple years, and whether we want to admit it or not, the money and access that these organizations are criticized for holding has played a big part in these victories. It is easy to say that because you aren’t interested in these particular victories, that they aren’t substantial, but to families like those of Lisa Pond, who was kept from her spouse during their final moments together, the changes to health care facilities that were won last year matter. To the people across the state of New York, who have waiting years for marriage, the victory there is a big deal. And to the service members who want so badly to not have to balance their patriotism against their integrity and the people they love, fights like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” matter.
What progress has this act of vandalism achieved, other than the ‘lulz’ of those involved? To these vandals I say this: how dare you criticize outreach efforts like those of It Gets Better, who along with Trevor Project and other orgs, is literally saving lives. If it is impact of direct action that they crave, perhaps their energy might be better spent by allying with groups like GetEQUAL, who are actually making a difference by using the act of protest. This vandalism, and more importantly, claiming to be the arbiters of the spirit of the Stonewall riots is far more ignorant than selling branded merchandise.
Did these vandals consider the amount of money that the store brings to the fight? Argue against the branding of the LGBTQ movement all you want, but I don’t mind any organization pushing tees and hoodies if my money is being used to address issues of workplace diversity, or to help schools adopt inclusive curriculum. Perhaps this group should consider the budget of organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, whose budget to fight against LGBTQ equality dwarfs the money of HRC.
The symbol of the rainbow, which has fallen out of style by so many that rally themselves behind the ‘Queer’ label, means something. It represents the plethora of queer people throughout the world; people of different color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, political philosophies and faith. There are those of us who wish to carry the banners of ACT-UP and chain ourselves to government buildings. These actions are great, and they are a viable form of resistance, but it is downright ignorant to insist that the only tactic for change is one’s own.
The voice of these vandals is certainly an important part of that spectrum, but if hundreds of thousands want to throw their voices and their money behind legislative action, or behind the call to LGBTQ youth to tell them that adults are fighting for them, then why offer a dissenting cry against forward movement? If it is because it you disagree with the methods being deployed in the struggle, then perhaps it is time to form your own organization.
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