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7 July 2011, 2:00 pm 11 Comments

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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  • Robby D said:

    really? Posers? I would love to see someone from the HRC have the courage to do anything besides beg for the Democrats to throw them crumbles at the expenses of others..

  • Levi said:

    Still doesn’t answer to the fact that when it comes to helping trans people, HRC still fails. We’re the ones getting murdered out there, and they keep saying that “they’ll get back us later” (then just watch Barney Frank quabble about under what conditions trans people should be allowed to use what bathroom).
    They may do good work in some regards, but I’ve heard many trans people and people of colour say that the HRC is no real ally to us.

  • Jenn B said:

    You still neglected to address the HRC’s total betrayal of those of us on the transgender side. (I’m a woman with a transsexual condition) HRC may be doing some good things for the GLB side, but they have totally forfeited any right to call themselves representative of the T. There may be different styles and methods for outreach, but there is no excuse for tossing your fellow humans under the bus when faced with transphobia.
    It was a terrible choice of words on your part to call them “posers”, since you have no knowledge of what the individuals might be doing quietly and without fanfare. This one action, attempting to wake the GLB community up to the snow job that the HRC calls equality, is most likely a small part of what they do to further real equality. I would rather a small group of unknown activists who stand up and work for what they believe than millions of dollars and hundreds of corporate activists who can’t seem to find their backbone.

  • Jenn B said:

    As a follow up, I don’t know who picked out the illustration, Have patience with Indians, but that perfectly describes the transgender community’s feelings about the HRC. They keep telling us to have wait our turn and to be patient, while we face physical attacks, harassment, homelessness, suicide, unemployment and prejudice. It’s quite ironic that such an illustration was chosen for an article defending the rich guy in the plaid suit.

  • Jenn B said:

    Sorry – corrected the link.

  • Sean said:

    The HRC hasn’t done anything for transgender people, so why do you keep saying LGBT? What you really mean is that the HRC has helped (white) cis gays.

    And GetEQUAL is bedfellows with Dan Savage, who is a racist, biphobic, transphobic misogynist. Why on earth would these people you call “posers” want to affiliate with them?

  • Danielle said:

    Many of those life-saving programs have done so by needlessly harming others in the QUILTBAG spectrum.

    Action that doesn’t directly benefit gays, when achieved, is often left undefended. One of the major equality organizations successfully lobbied for a rule change allowing trans people to change their gender marker without having to have first had surgery, i.e. they can have their driver’s license match their appearance durning the required time lived before they can get surgery letters. The state AG suspended it for legal review and there the effort by the equality organization ended. “Oh well, we tried.”

  • Mike said:

    I love it when you get people who keep saying things like:

    “when it comes to helping trans people, HRC still fails. We’re the ones getting murdered out there, and they keep saying that “they’ll get back us later” ”

    Ok.. when did they say that? Where is that quote from? What does that even refer to?

    Or when people say HRC “hasn’t done anything for transgender people” or is guilty of “total betrayal” … about what? Some of these folks mention violence against trans people. HRC agrees this is important.. that’s why gender identity and expression were included alongside sexual orientation in the new federal hate crimes bill! Did you read it? Yeah, maybe legislation isn’t the one and only or even the most important thing the movement for equality should do.. but it’s doing something.. and it’s actually doing a lot for trans people. more, in fact, than just about anyone else in terms of legislation. did you read Anthony’s reference to healthcare rules above? you should actually read about this work.. it’s important and it has made a really big difference in just the last year or two. HRC advocated for — and won — improved access for patients (in making decisions for loved ones, having access to them in the hospital, having rights against discrimination in the hospital) on the basis of *both* sexual orientation and gender identity. HRC advocates for both of these things together in areas where it logically makes sense to do so. Sure.. they can always do more… just say what they need to do, or apply to go work for them … *along with the other trans people who work there!!*

  • Jenn B said:

    In 2004, the HRC agreed to leave out any mention of Transgender/Transsexual from the bill. They said that it was worth setting our rights aside for now, so they could get gay and lesbian rights. Although that bill ended up failing, we have not forgotten the betrayal.
    As far as leaving us to get murdered, just this past week, one trans-woman was shot and killed in DC and another was shot at the exact same way. A few months ago, a trans-woman was assulting in a Maryland McDonald’s and just a few months before that, a trans-woman in the Boston area was brutally attacked and murdered. We are litterally getting murdered and the HRC has been more focused on getting Gay marriage recognized. Being able to get married is a wonderful thing – being able to walk down the street without fear of being attacked, fired, evicted or murdered because of who you are is MUCH more important.
    The HRC has done some good things, but not for the trans community.
    Insurance companies are still free to deny coverage for hormones and surgery because they decided that such things were elective and not needed (in direct opposition to the AMA’s recommendations) There are only 7 states that recognize trans rights… Where is the HRC’s voice on the Massachuestts Trans Rights Bill? This is the 6th year – fails to get out of committee every year. Trans and Gay hate groups like Mass Resistance spend tons of money and time working to destroy both gays and trans – yet the national HRC is silent… I’m tired of being left out and being told to sit down and wait my turn… my turn is NOW!!!

  • Indi X Edwards Roughsedge said:

    The Gay Inc like to spin, around and around it goes where the funding ends up, nobody knows.

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