Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maybe we have finally turned a page...

A New March, a New Movement

by Jennifer Vanasco

First published in the Chicago Free Press on October 14, 2009

The Equality March was a success.

I didn't think it would be, honestly. I was worried about the lack of publicity, a sense of organizational disorganization, the tepid response from our trusted national organizations.

I was worried that the March would wind up being a few shirtless guys and a megaphone.

But I was wrong.

Thanks partly to Barack Obama deciding to speak the night before at HRC, the March brought positive national press attention to our issues. And enough people came — perhaps 200,000 from across the country — that it strengthened our sense of community and unity.

But perhaps most importantly, the March showed that we are now a different movement. We are a movement that knows what it is doing. We are a movement that will win.

The gay civil rights movement has slalomed through many iterations over the past 40 years. There were the Stonewall days, when we were trying to stop police harassment; the lesbian separatism of the 1970s; and the ‘90s era of identity politics, when we were determined to celebrate — and make the country accept- our distinct culture.

But the feel of the Equality March was very different.

"The March showed that we are now a different movement. We are a movement that knows what it is doing. We are a movement that will win."This wasn't about outsiders seeking visibility. It was about ordinary people wondering why we weren't being treated like everyone else.

Despite the sunny weather, men weren't marching with their shirts off. There was no lesbian fire eating. No boas. This wasn't about a celebration of individual flamboyance or the acknowledgement of sub-identities. This was about showing Washington and the world that we are serious about our rights. That we will not be silent. That we will not back down.

Sure, there were groups of Christians and bears and anarchists and an amazing number of straight supporters. But by the end, the crowd mostly flowed together, with couples with children marching beside a guy in a chicken suit and everyone stopping by the White House for a photo.

Marchers carried signs that expressed rights-fatigue: "Tired of carrying signs," one said. "I got married. Why can't my moms?" said another.

We have spent the year protesting and marching thanks to the fallout over the passage of Proposition 8 last November, and all that activism shows. Even are young people are no longer new to this. We know what to say. We know what to do. We chant, sure, but mostly we walk, holding our rainbow flags high, making a statement through our peaceful presence.

There were a few celebrities, most notably Lady Gaga. But even they were about protesting, not performing. This wasn't a march to express our buying power or our party power. It was about our staying power. It was a march that said, "No matter how tired we get, how long we've been doing this, how much our feet hurt, we will stay the course."

Washington was empty over Columbus Day weekend. No Senators were looking out their windows to see the human river below. The White House was quiet. The center of DC felt almost deserted. There were none of the Pride Day crowds; no beer-swilling gawkers. No thump of dance music.

There was only a sense of determination. Of public will. Of the fierce belief that we deserve equality and if we demand it loud enough and long enough, we will get it.

The Equality March was less about who we are and more about what we can — and will — do.

The Equality March said to the country: We are not outsiders. We are Americans who were born equal. And it is time Washingon recognizes that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

SO very true...

Taken from the Daily Dish....very well put and I could not agree with him more!

We Get A Gay Ambassador!
To New Zealand and Samoa! So we now have the slogan that sums up the Obama record on gay rights: Not much worse than Bush:

Obama's announcement is a gesture just days before he speaks to a gay rights fundraising dinner on Saturday and gay activists march on Washington on Sunday.

Look: I'm not a one-issue person and I respect a great deal of what the president is trying to do and have supported him on many issues and will continue to. I also know that the real action is in the states; and I know that we gays have to change the world ourselves and work harder to make our case for equality. But a lot of us have done all of that for a very long time, at great personal cost, and in sickness and in health. We have moved public opinion very quickly toward understanding how discrimination still operates and how equality will help all of us. And yet the Democratic party which takes our money and counts on our votes still thinks we can be fobbed off with gestures and symbols and a nice speech. And, of course, HRC loves nothing more than that and they will milk this for more money and even plusher buildings and higher salaries for their professional Washington careerists, even as they get nothing done or passed. They like it that way. It keeps them in business. And the love-fest Saturday night will be sick-making.

But the president needs to know that speaking to HRC, a tool of the Democratic establishment, and appointing Democratic donors and machers and suck-ups to jobs and sinecures ... well, we all could have backed the Clintons again if that's what we were hoping for.

Some of us didn't back the Clintons (which cannot be said for most of the HRC board) when it was very unpopular to do so. Some of us went out on a limb for him, worked our asses off for him, and expected not miracles, but certainly not what we've gotten. And what we've gotten is not change we can believe in on civil rights, but the tired old Democratic party interest group cynicism that some of us thought he had left behind. On these issues, Obama reeks of fear. And he acts as if it's still 1993.

At best, gays are still safe victims in the Democratic party, protected from "hate crimes" by benevolent straight people, who love to brag about their gay friends and get us to decorate their homes. But we're not equals to this president or his party, whatever he says and however well he puts it. I'd much rather a president who stiffed the HRC and gave no speeches at all but actually did something for the non-coopted, non-elite, non-Washington, non-celebrity gay folks who actually voted for him and backed him when it was hard. He knows what to do. And he refuses to do it. That's more eloquent than any speech ever could be.