My first experience with gay rights activism in Indianapolis was in 1992. I had just become the Executive Director of the Indiana ACLU. There were wonderful, committed people working for the community, at the legislature and with the media, but I think anyone who was around then would concede that the community as a whole was far more disorganized, and its efforts far less sophisticated than it is today. It sometimes seemed to me, as an outsider, that more energy was going into internal backbiting and jockying for position within the community than was directed toward fighting the multitude of barriers to equal treatment.
Call Me a Worry-wort
Nearly fifteen years later, for a variety of reasons, the gay community has really matured politically. Furthermore, it is on the verge of a truly impressive accomplishment for Indiana--defeating (or at least postponing a vote on) SJR 7. Major Indiana companies, academic institutions, religious leaders and other "major players" have weighed in on the side of the "good guys." Something that was simply beyond the community's capacities back in 1992 has happened: a variety of gay and gay-friendly organizations, working together, have mounted a politically sophisticated campaign to get to this point. It hasn't been perfect--but it's been damn good.
So what worries me?
My husband has a saying--"Never let your ego get in the way of your objectives." Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen little signs--disparaging remarks about one or another GLBT organization, snide comments about this or that initiative or individual. Nothing too overt--but uncomfortably reminiscent of the "bad old days."
I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'm overreacting to a few offhand remarks I'm hearing, to a couple of posts to various blogs that include gratuitious personal remarks. But just in case, let's all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that the cause is more important than any individual's ego, and that the success that seems tantalizingly within our grasp is a result of good communication, ongoing co-ordination, hard work and good will.
Now is no time to let our egos get in the way of our objectives.