Alex Blaze

No sympathy for HRC

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 08, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, ENDA, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT, San Francisco, transgender

If you're in the SF area:

trans_rights2.jpgSubject: Advisory: Independence from HRC

We Declare Independence from the Human Rights Campaign!

Next Saturday, July 12 @ noon, the San Francisco LGBT community will celebrate its Independence from the Human Rights Campaign by re-introducing the rainbow flag, created right here in San Francisco thirty years ago, as a symbol of LGBT liberation. Rainbow flag stickers will be provided to any and all who want them -- particularly former HRC members looking to cover up HRC bumper stickers.

The Independence day event is in response to HRC's ongoing refusal to support federal legislation that actually protects all LGBT people from employment discrimination.

According to Wikipedia, "The LGBT rainbow flag or Gay pride flag is a symbol of LGBT pride and LGBT social movements in use since the 1970s. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in LGBT rights marches. It originated in the United States, but is now used worldwide... After the November 27, 1978, assassination of openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, demand for the rainbow flag greatly increased..."

By contrast, sometime during the early 1990s, HRC introduced its own, purely-domestic, impostor flag, two gold bars -- symbolizing wealth? We're not sure. In any event, that unhistoric and unremarkable flag has fallen into disrepute, coming to represent homosexuals living in the middle of the country -- rather than the actual full diversity of our beautiful, global LGBT community.

Who: Our DIVERSE San Francisco LGBT Community, especially Pride at Work, And Castro for All, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and others

What: FREE Rainbow Flag Giveaway!

When & Where: Saturday, July 12 @ 12PM, @ the SF Human Rights Campaign store (19th & Castro Street)

Not really surprised that there are people doing this. HRC's had this long time comin', and they've chosen to circle the wagons and cut off ties with the community instead of respond to criticism or change their ways.

The HRC gets their power from the money donors give them as well as the rhetorical power of saying that they represent a good 5 to 10 percent of America. They can't stop all their donors from giving money to HRC, hell some of them probably gave more expressly because of the whole ENDA debacle, so the least they can do is show pols that the HRC doesn't represent the whole of the LGBT community.

Yes, this is a symbolic act. But with politicians actually refusing to meet with HRC now, some are getting that message.

It's seriously hard for me to feel any sympathy for HRC, considering how many opportunities they've been given to change their image. I don't know how many times I was emailing their communications director last fall to get them to post here defending their stance on ENDA, Joe Solmonese had already agreed to participate on TBP as a contributor posting once a month. They stopped responding to my emails and stopped posting on the site. That's one way to make friends in the blogging community: promise to post, then don't, then stop answering emails.

A few months later they actually responded to Bil and complained TBP was too anti-HRC for them. I guess they ignored all the pro-HRC contributors on here, ignored the majority who just didn't care about HRC, ignored those who liked HRC but disagreed with them on ENDA, and focused on the small group who were justifiably angry with HRC's decisions during the ENDA debacle. And then they decided that the best thing to do about an anti-HRC site was to not use their front-page posting privilege and then not respond to the editors' emails requesting content. You know, the sort of content that would help their image.

Yeah, their logic made no sense, but it's part of the way they've operated for years. Circle the wagons instead of engage and just hope that all those mean faggots, dykes, and trannies out there would just shut up. I mean, it's not like they're our equals or anything. It's not like they could actually try and convince us. They're above that.

They're the big men and women on the block; they're the kewl connected kids. That's the message they continuously deliver to the community, so when a group like the one above in SF are pretty much saying they aren't represented by HRC, then, um, yeah, they have a point. And if HRC actually cared what LGBT people thought about them, they could have engaged and defended themselves in a million and a half ways by now.

But they haven't. They don't need us and they know they don't need us. Please don't leave comments about how I'm hurting the work they do since they know as well as I do that I'm nothing to them and so is the majority of the LGBT community.

It's all cool, as long as we all know what's up. But, yeah, that's a big reason why people are mad at them. It's not that they had a different-but-equally-viable strategy than most of the LGBT activist community, it's the way they presented it, the fact that they lied about it before hand, the fact that they refused to defend it, that they refuse to see anything wrong in what they did, and the fact that they refuse to do anything to make up for it.

They made their bed, now they can sleep in it.

Update: Just got an email saying that the crossed out sentence above has been removed from the press release. So there we go.


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Long before the ENDA debacle, back in the day when I was a red-state activist rather than a coastal bubble-living elitist, I became disillusioned with the HRC because of the amount of money they took out of communities. It's really frustrating to see community centers begging for $10 donations in a bar raffle to pay rent while hundreds of people think their $35 annual membership to HRC is sufficient financial activism.

Long before the ENDA debacle, back in the day when I was a red-state activist rather than a coastal bubble-living elitist, I became disillusioned with the HRC because of the amount of money they took out of communities. It's really frustrating to see community centers begging for $10 donations in a bar raffle to pay rent while hundreds of people think their $35 annual membership to HRC is sufficient financial activism.

If HRC wants to fundraise in San Francisco, LA, New York and DC, I have no problem. When they're taking money out of Southern Utah or Reno or Boise, I get cranky.

HRC, under Joe Solmonese's name, had already agreed to participate on TBP as a contributor posting once a month.

Huh? I thought it was Bilerico policy that all contributors represented themselves and not any organizations that they may be affiliated with.

Was there a post that explained this arrangement? I can’t find the usual welcome post from Bil, and nothing about it is mentioned on Joe’s first post as a contributor.

Thanks for catching that, Nick. While I mainly communicated with one of the comm people at HRC, he was just sending me Joe's stuff.

I fixed it. Thanks!


Jere, there are more than a few stories like that about HRC in the heartland.....

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 4:52 PM

Huge supporter and believer of HRC and Joe here..so get your keyboards ready..haha.

In my opinion I do not believe this is ther right way to go about this... Protesting an organization that has done more for us than any other lobbying organization in the history of our movement. Yes, they are not perfect and may have made some missteps...(not convinced on the ENDA thing), but to trying to tear down your own people when the right wing is doing a good job seems just plain crazy to me.

The blind rage that fuels some of this is not healthy or productive, think we should figure out a better way to try to bring about change...

I myself and many, many friends will continue to proudly display our HRC stickers and send in our money...

Peace to you all...

In physics, an object remains stationary until acted upon by a force strong enough to overcome friction and move the object. We are seeing the very beginnings of that force increasing on HRC to a point that it will not be able to stop the rest of the community from moving it in the right direction. Donna's recent posting, Rebecca Juro's posting, this one and several others all contribute to the increasing of that force. When HRC moves, the chear will be heard around the world. For now, we keep piling on the explosives.

"You think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?"

The problem, Midtowner, is that HRC has given up the right to be seen as "our own people". You don't completely disregard the strong opposition of pretty much every other major LGBT civil rights org in the country and then expect to still be taken seriously as a voice of that community.

HRC is reaping exactly what they themselves have sown, and I, for one, have no sympathy for them whatsoever. They're getting exactly what they deserve from the community they refuse to represent honestly.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 5:36 PM

Hey Monica, Hope you had a good pride :-)

I just hear things from a different side and see a lot of the animosity and division thats being created..thats why I wish there was a better way to facilitate this...

HRC has a tremendous successfull history for advocating for us and bringing about significant change in the US for all of us GLBT's. Again I agree there may have been missteps..but the overall picture is very positive..


Yes bring about change and better inclusion but to much dynamite blows us all apart....

Here's something that a friend from California (who shall remain otherwise anonymous) just emailed me :

It is quite amazing that at the EXACT time Californians really NEED HRC's money and resources to help defeat the marriage equality ban, not just the [trans activists] but organizational and elected gays are pissing on them --- while ENDA with or without trans [inclusion] is moot unless Obama is sworn in six months from now. How smart is THAT?

I don't know whether HRC intends to lift a finger to help California defeat the marriage ban referendum ... nor do I know whether HRC will endorse Obama ... but if the do help, it might be smart to postpone this argument until after November; and if they don't help out --- then they are truly worthless and we should all turn on them!

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 5:46 PM

Thansk A.J., This does bring this argument into prespective... Not to say who's right or wrong, but to say lets take a seriously look at where were at...and do the right thing...

Midtowner,

Thanks for warning us, I almost spewed coffee all over my keyboards at your jokes, "an organization that has done more for us than any other lobbying organization in the history of our movement" and "HRC has a tremendous successfull history for advocating for us and bringing about significant change in the US for all of us GLBT's." Whew, those are some knee-slappers.

HRC has, of course, proven itself to be phenomenally ineffectual as a lobbying organization and advocate for social change. The hands-on, practical, and measurable accomplishments of Equality California, Garden State Equality, MassEquality, and the Empire State Pride Agenda (just to name a few) have put to shame the paltry "successes" of the HRC both in local and national impact.

Let's not forget the HRC's tremendous social impact, from the way they've changed media representation (or was that GLAAD and the NLGJA?) to schools (or should we credit PFLAG and GLSEN?).

No one has ever proven to me that the HRC has done anything of enough value for the movement to deserve the reputation they have as the leaders and spokespeople for the rest of us.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 5:55 PM

Ok Jere, lets see what your made of? Are you willing to set aside your differences and work with HRC and all of those other fine organizations to come together as community to make sure that Prop 8 fails or will you allow your anger and dissapointment to divide us during this critical time?

I know you feel wronged, but will you make the same mistake you blame them for?

Oh no! It's Midtowner!

"I'm not going to argue with him. You argue with him."

"I ain't arguing with him. You do it."

"I ain't goin' to do it. Hey! Let Mikey do it! He'll argue with him. Hey, Mikey!"

HRC has already pledged $500,000 to Equality for All, an organization fighting against the marriage amendment in California.

It's a done fucking deal. And the suggestion that HRC would, or even could, withdraw funding from Equality for All simply because an entirely unaffiliated group is protesting them borders on the absurd.

And even if it wasn't absurd, you're still arguing that HRC’s wealth should grant them a free pass to steamroll over all but the most privileged of gay men and women. No thanks.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 6:30 PM

Ill ask this of all of you...

Are you willing to set aside your differences and work with HRC and all of the other fine organizations to come together as community to make sure that Prop 8 fails or will you allow your anger and dissapointment to divide us during this critical time?

I know you feel wronged, but will you make the same mistake you blame them for?

Okay, name ONE piece of federal legislation that HRC had fought for and has a Presidential signature on it that will help LGB people? Now, take your time. Don't strain those last few working sanapsis between the two final functioning brain cells. I don't want to have to call 911. So, did LGB people get their money's worth with all that HRC has really done for you? Millions in, garbage out. You'll get the same affect hosting a money flushing party.

That reminds me. I think I'll spend my money buying a low-flow toilet. It's more appropriate.

Oops.

I referred to Equality for All as an organization when it is actually a coalition of organizations, of which HRC is a member. So who knows if the $500,000 will even leave HRC’s hands? I'd love to see the accounting books.

Oh, Midtowner, don't make me pull out my resume to show what I'm made of.

Your whole argument here is that criticisms of the HRC are somehow derailing the movement at a critical time. First off, it has been a "critical time" since I woke up as a baby queer activist during my college years in the mid 90s. Second, the point of Alex's post (if I might be so bold as to put words in his mouth) is that the HRC brought this criticism on themselves by becoming insular and refusing to recognize the very real complaints member of the community have.

How can the HRC serve any purpose in the Prop 8 fight if they won't respond to the community they are supposed to represent? And if the HRC is petty enough to take their ball and go home because California activists are fed up with the bullshit, well, it only proves the HRC to be even less relevant than I currently believe. That people think this kind of self-serving, ego-driven behavior is even a possibility shows that many believe HRC's priorities are more about their PR image rather than actually doing what's best for the community.

So how about this paradigm shift. Instead of the LGBT community uncritically looking to the HRC for leadership, how about the HRC show up to the Prop 8 fight and listen to what the community wants them to do?

This kind of "let's not complain about our allies" thinking is far too reminiscent of the "it's unpatriotic to criticize the war or the president" madness of a few years ago.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 6:43 PM

Seriously Monica..."Don't strain those last few working sanapsis between the two final functioning brain cells. I don't want to have to call 911." Your gonna do that when were having a discussion.

We may have different opnions but were on the same side...and we have to work together and make this happen. Lets not give the enemy fuel to destroy us all...

Mykie here to do the arguing :-)

Ok Jere, lets see what your made of? Are you willing to set aside your differences and work with HRC... [snip]

Trouble is, that's what people have previously tried to do with HRC... and the HRC showed all of us what they were made of.

Telling people to shut up and get on the HRC bus cause it's heading to Marriage Town all full of money and influence isn't going to cut it. So far i have seen a more effective campaign and willingness to listen to the community from EQCA, and that work and inclusion is going to bring change quicker than will throwing the Bs and Ts under that bus full of money.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 6:53 PM

Ok..Jere Im sure you have an impressive resume..and Ill be glad to match your activism with mine... You dont own that corner.

A majority of the community feel that HRC is responding just fine and are saying that by continuing to support them monitarily. Yes there are many who disagree but MANY more who are behind them.

No Im not questioning your patriotism, or your dedication to the "Cause", but gheesh cant you get a little perspective and see the big picture.

Im not trying to be disrespectful, not trying to be catty..Im just trying to understand why you and others wont pull together for just a while. I will work with you side by side on TG issues etc...I will email HRC, I will call them..whatever we need to do..lets just do this together...

I was asked about Pride. Here's something interesting for all of you to note. The Atlanta Pride was held at the Civic Center this year, which gave a chance to have some of the organizations inside an air conditioned building, out of the rain and heat. Guess what. HRC was stuck outside, getting drenched and sweltering in the heat and high humidity.

The only HRC symbols seen at Pride was at their tent and on shirts and hats of their lackies. I thought that was very appropriate for them to be sent outside. And, if any of you may have forgotten, the Atlanta Pride Committee turned down a donation from HRC earlier this year because of their stance on ENDA. Don't let Midtowner give you the wrong impression on how Atlanta LGBT people really feel about HRC. He is a member of a dying breed, like friends of Lester Maddox and Jesse Helms. Hey, HRC is just like them.

"Welcome to the South, y'all."

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 6:58 PM

Hey Mykill...you obviously arent getting the tone of what Im saying..and thats fine. Never once did I say shut up and get on the bus...And EQCA is doing a fantastic job...Not once did I mention Money, influence...

And I didnt know having a different opion mounted to arguing...

Peace

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 7:10 PM

Wow Monica..I expected better from you....

Second, the point of Alex's post (if I might be so bold as to put words in his mouth) is that the HRC brought this criticism on themselves by becoming insular and refusing to recognize the very real complaints member of the community have.

Yeah, that's pretty much it.

Whether the org has done good or not in the past isn't the issue, at least for me, at least here. What I'm saying is that HRC has made it quite clear that most of us can go fuck ourselves. Whether they've done good or not doesn't change that.

But their stand on T-inclusion, honestly, I think they could have done some better damage control on by:

1. engaging the community and explaining their decision

2. already have shown a deeper commitment to transgender rights than they had in the past (this issue didn't start with the ENDA, it just exploded with it)

3. been honest about their position on the ENDA from the start

4. have found someone besides the Log Cabin Republicans to stand with them.

Would no one be mad if they did those things? No, of course a lot of trans people and allies would still be pissed off. But I think people would have been able to better deal with it and not felt so betrayed if they knew what was coming and felt like HRC was trying to engage.

And if that's the way they feel, fine. But let's not take away credit from the orgs that have done well in the past to bring about change (massequality, GLAD, NCLR, PFLAG, SLDEN, GLSEN) and just hand it over to HRC. As far as I recall, all those orgs were on one side of the ENDA debate, and HRC was on the other with the Log Cabin Republicans.

What really annoys me, though, is that the folks who have a problem with HRC are the ones blamed for not working together here, when at every corner HRC's been doing things that provoke the community and hasn't tried to reconcile at all.

"A majority of the community feel that HRC is responding just fine and are saying that by continuing to support them monitarily. Yes there are many who disagree but MANY more who are behind them."

I disagree. HRC has always inflated their numbers rather dramatically, and I doubt that they truly have the respect and support of "a majority" of the community. I've always called them the WalMart of queer activism - the big guy everyone knows about despite the fact they don't do anything especially well. The majority of their support no longer comes from committed and informed activists, it comes from a) people who are either to apathetic or lazy to research the actual policies or strategies or b) wealthy gay men and women who are flattered by the black tie dinners and cocktail parties.

I think we see very different big pictures. In my big picture, the HRC is rather permanently and destructively stealing the fire of grassroots activism that legitimately brings about change; has sold out my friends and allies; and continues to codify an assimilationist approach to queer rights that I fear will put the movement back another 10 years if adopted without question.

"Im just trying to understand why you and others wont pull together for just a while"

How are we not pulling together? Everyone I know, including vocal critics of the HRC, is working together on the Prop 8 bill. I'm not sure I understand what you want from us?

Midtowner @23, I am getting the tone of what you are saying... loud and clear. You are saying criticism of the HRC divides the community and therefore will cause prop 8 to pass. I did not say you used the words shut up and get on the bus.. notice there were no quotes?

Stay with me:
You seem to think by calling the HRC out on their abandoning a segment of the community, we are the ones being divisive. So, it follows that for us to stop being divisive...

We would have to stop speaking out against the divisiveness of the HRC...

Which would be shutting up.

The bus part was a metaphor i used so i could throw in the phrase "Marriage Town" because i thought it sounded fun.

And the arguing comment? That was a reference to Monica's post @13, not your opinions. Sounds like you obviously aren't getting the tone of what i'm saying.

Midtowner | July 8, 2008 7:59 PM

In my opinion, just mine...I think all this HRC bashing is detracting us from whats going on right now... Why instead of having an Idependance day from HRC party, thing cant there be another rally against prop 8? It doesnt have to be with HRC, just seems unfortunate at this time to be doing those sorts of things.

I have been working in the Gay community for almost 20 years in very public positions and privately on my own and I have seen time and time again how we rip each other to shreds...when basically we have the same goal. Always to our detriment, always.

Again Jere, and Monica and all..I respect you, I mean no harm by posting here... I just want to see us all work together and make some serious changes. Im sure you probably laugh at me and my Kumbya way of thinking...but hey...

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Midtowner,
I made the mistake of trying to work with that amoral pseudo civil rights organization once, in 1998-1999.

Never again.
You think the transgender community hates HRC? Their reputation within the African-American same gender loving community is even worse.

This drama with the Homosexual Rights Corporation has been building for over a decade now, not October 2007.

The only serious change that needs to be made is for HRC's ineffective, morally bankrupt, moneygrubbing, politically inept behinds to stop claiming it speaks for the entire community, step aside and let United ENDA do the heavy lifting from now on.

HRC gan go back to what it does best, raise prodigious amounts of cash so they can pay six figure salaries to people that haven't passed a civil rights bill, nuch less have a clue about how to go about doing it.

Its actions since 1995 tell the real story and whatever thin claim they had to moral leadership died in October when they lied to us at our signature convention (SCC) and sold us down the river again while collecting our hard earned T-bills at the same time.

Nope, if I'm going to work in conjunction with any GLBT organization to get an inclusive ENDA passed, it'll be the Task Force or the National Black Justice Coalition.

At least I can trust these organizations and know they will have my back, not stab me in it.

"Why instead of having an Idependance day from HRC party, thing cant there be another rally against prop 8?"

Townie, is there a reason people can't do both? People fight initiatives & bad legislation in their local areas and pass nondiscrim laws without HRC involved. All the time - It's more the rule than the exception.

In my community why we were able to pass a nondiscrim law covering gender identity because the lgbt leaders decided to not work with HRC. A group that didn't share our values, sense of community and commitment to everyone in the community. The fact that HRC is putting $500,000 towards this effort while in liberal Massachusetts gay people have been legally able to discriminate against transgender people since 1987 tells you all you need to know about their values. Someone being able to marry is more important to them then someone being able to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. That sounds more like the Human Sacrifices Campaign to me. Especially given their actions during the enda debacle.

That's the rub in your assumptions. The HRC doesn't share the same values and agenda of most of the other groups in the country. They don't include the diversity of the community in their own employees, in their board and they expect to be taken seriously when they say they're committed to equality for all of us. And of course though their long history of gaming the community and dissembling on inclusion may have provided them some short term tactical benefits as a an organization; it self defeating in the longer term.

When people don't trust you, they won't work with you.

(1) To follow-up on my previous comment #9, according to the online archives of the Bay Area Reporter (May 21, 2008), HRC has pledged a total of $600,000 to the anti-Prop-8 fight in California, plus donated six full-time staff workers to help with the California campaign. Read about this here.

(2) Alex, dear friend, your memory is incorrect if you remember the Log Cabinettes as the only notable group that sided with the HRC position on ENDA. There were also the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the NAACP, and the NEA, plus a number of lesser groups that are specifically LGBT (or at least LGB) in nature. And don't ignore our premier pink powerbroker on Capitol Hill, Barney Frank, who got fully smoked, basted, and barbecued for his ENDA position long before July 4 rolled around.

I'm not saying which position on ENDA is correct or incorrect --- I speak up only to prevent others from re-writing the details of history at this late and heated date.

Midtowner,

It takes two (or more) to argue. If unity really is the value you hold so dearly. If you really think that we all need to be on board and working together, standing up and saying "stop voicing your disagreement and fall in line with my position" isn't very persuasive.

The bottom line is, if you really think that unity is more important than this petty sqauble, then put aside your support of a divisive anti-every-minority-group-but-mine organization and join that side that advocates support and unity for every member of our community.

Your call to support such an incredibly divisive organization only shows that your commitment to unity is a farce. Either that or you're working under a delusion.

"Protesting an organization that has done more for us than any other lobbying organization in the history of our movement."

hee. Name one thing they've actually accomplished with their six-figure salaries.. . I bet I can make a bigger list of ways they've alienated members of the LGBT community . . .

Midtowner | July 9, 2008 8:14 AM

Whats the issue here? Your anger at HRC or Marriage Equality? How important is Marriage Equality to you? From several post Im seeing that it may not be as important to some as to others....even though it is an issue that includes all of us.

Im not saying rejoin HRC and put the bumper sticker back on..Im saying there are issues that are more important right now, than anger at HRC, because of prop 8 and the limited time we have to make sure it fails. We dont have plenty of time to debate other issues right now...

Im not saying quell any debate, or lets all fall in lock step, or STFU...Yes I am saying lets all join the Marriage Bus. Lets get this done in CA, stop squabbling just for a minute and do this, then tackle the next issue together...

We can debate till the cows come home and lose this, or we can pull together and be victorious...
Why some are trying to make this about you must agree with me or your wrong is crazy, Im just asking dont you see the logic in this...

Peace

A.J.~ Yes, there were other non-LGBT groups that took their side. I don't know about the other LGBT ones. Do you remember who they were in specific?

The other, non-LGBT groups took the HRC position most likely because they were supporting HRC as allies, not because they don't care/haven't read up on/don't want to rock the boat about trans-inclusion. I think that shows that they have power with other civil rights nonprofits at the most.

Are you willing to set aside your differences and work with HRC and all of those other fine organizations to come together as community to make sure that Prop 8 fails or will you allow your anger and dissapointment to divide us during this critical time?
So it's "us" now, is it? When did that change?

T's will work against prop 8 because it's the right thing to do. Despite the HRC's participation, rather than because of it.

We won't be able to summon up a lot of enthusiasm though. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote, "A false friend is more dangerous than an open enemy." And he got it from a Greek proverb that was thousands of years old even then. While the HRC claims to represent T's as well as GLBs, yet sees us as outsiders, disposable "for the greater good", such lack of enthusiasm for them and all they represent will remain.

Or are you saying that's all changed?

"HRC has already pledged $500,000 to Equality for All...."

You mean like they 'pledged' to only support a trans-inclusive ENDA?

Nice try.

I get a little tired of hearing the same crap from HRC and their supporters that say things like, "They are doing these good thing over here, so that should make up for anything else. Right?" In the Navy, those "good things" would be called "Atta-boys." You do a good thing, you get an Atta-boy.

Well, the rest of that saying goes, "One 'Oh-shit' wipes out a 1000 Atta-boys." HRC has accumulated enough "Oh-shits" in recent years that the world will end before they make up for them with enough Atta-boys.

Katrina - nice try what?

I was just trying to illustrate that it's very unlikely HRC would ever pull half a million dollars in funding, pledged to a coalition that it itself is a member of, just because they are protested by an unrelated group of people for an unrelated reason.

I hate HRC as much as the next queer with a radical agenda, but honestly I don't think their history with ENDA really has much to do with the logic of what I was saying. Did they lie about ENDA? Of course. But the difference is that they have never cared about trans folks, and they care a whole fucking lot about securing marriage equality in California.

The point is HRC ain’t pulling that money, so folks commenting here can stop using such an unrealistic threat as a reason to never challenge HRC. Not that we should even be intimidated by such a threat if it was realistic...

The thing I really loved about the linked article was the end:

"It's not our intent to split the community," said Sparks. "We want to be inclusive – and we hope HRC will come around as well."

Why is it always assumed that HRC is running the show? Why do we act as if they are the big parent who is trying to shame us little children into going to our rooms?

Truth is, there are for more people in this community than there are working for HRC. Collectively, there is far more money in the community than in the HRC coffers. So who needs who?

"At a time when our community is threatened, once again, with a cynical ?election-year ploy that could hurt our families, we believe that it's time to set aside our differences and fight for what we all want," the HRC letter states.

To imply that any protest of their policies or actions is being divisive or putting the entirety of the LGBT community at risk is presumptuous at best. HRC doesn't own the GLBT community and it's time they remember this.

Nick,
A half mil is still just one Atta-boy. It just shows that they have their priorities where the sun doesn't shine.

Jordan DC | July 9, 2008 12:25 PM

I've spent that past twenty minutes reading this debate, and a few things have come to mind:

I'm a university student from the west coast, and am in the prime of my naive, leaning-stage activism chapter. I've tested waters with numerous organizations, including HRC. I spent time volunteering for these organization, researching their work, and--most importantly--building relationships with individuals in administrative positions. I'm currently involved with a more grass-roots based, national LGBT organization. Here are my reasons:

(1) We're working for a changing of hearts and minds; this requires identifying common values that we and our opponents may have. Traditionally, our movement has done this in a combative, offensive tactic. We've seen the potential that identifiable values (such as youth suicide) can do. As I was--and am--learning and experiences the different advocates for our movement, I felt HRC was making a poor decision for--what I felt was--siding with the right wing. They felt that the right wing wasn't ready for trans issues, so they settled with marriage. This felt betraying. Not that we needed to clan together to aggressively fight for our rights, but a community binding together with compassion for all of our members--I feel--is a much more productive way to show the genuineness and integrity of our community, which is contrary to their arguments of our indecency. I feel HRC abandoned us on this effort.

(2) After becoming involved in a national LGBT organization, I've seen decisions made by HRC, not only on a political level, but on a personal level as well. Everything from administrators not returning phone calls, to taking credit for work that they had little part of. I felt, on a personal contributor to my organization, hurt and betrayed. I'll have personal friends who have been experiences with complete lack of compassion and disregard for their personal lives...coupled with the exemplification of pride on HRC's behalf. More experiences include situations of racism and other contradictory episodes.

(3) I don't mean to reiterate my naivety, but I had initially joined HRC out of their popularity. After moving forward with my own activism, I realized no achievement had stood out on HRC's behalf. However, I had heard of many great things from statewide organizations, who were supported by other national organizations other than HRC. I also heard of achievements from other LGBT groups as well. I heard these stories not only by my own research, but from hundreds of conversations with individuals working in the movement.

(4) As if my reasoning weren't personal enough, one of my closet mentors, friend, and brother is personally affected by HRC's stance. Through our relationship, I've felt his pain by seeing an organization, whom he supported for years, turn their backs on him.

Midtown, I applaud you for your enduring compassionate stance on this issue. I would like to extend myself as another firm believer in the maintenance of compassion and integrity, along with a healthy, different perspective. I hope my reasons stated above would help to reflect why many individuals, groups and organizations choose to support other organizations rather than HRC...especially in crucial times when we need full community support.

I just want to know if I can get in on that whole dick size activist cred measuring party... Let's just put it out there so that part swiftly dies...

You're all pretty people.

While I'm confident Midtowner can hold his/her own in this, I'd like to point out that it takes a special brand of courage to buck the pack and speak your own truth. I applaud that.

(But I still think that the whole "circle the wagons" style of organizational management is as dead as the daily news cycle it came out of.)

Bil, you're making me tear up a bit in memory of Sue Robins... now she could really go toe-to-toe with the entire Projector community!

Ah, this blog's favorite sports. Bashing HRC, and insulting the intelligence of anyone who defends HRC.

Back in the day, I wrote my senior thesis entitled "Acrimony and Apathy: Political Organizing in the LGBT Community."

Some things never change.

BTW, I would consider Llambda Legal as the LGBT group with the best track record regarding actual results.

Actually Chuck, we spend more time bashing right-wing Christians, Republicans and homophobes/transphobes.

Really? Let's count. If you want to go further back in the archives, you can, but I will just use the front page currently viewable. We could broaden the sample if we loosen the definition a little, but I tried to stick with a strict definition. I also didn't include comments (if I did, since lots of posts bash the Right and HRC, sometimes in the same sentence, I would never finish).

"bashing right-wing Christians, Republicans and homophobes/transphobes"

Alex's Bolthouse piece
Mike's "Desperate Lies."
Mike's "Doubtful"
Will gay Republicans tolerate the Barnes Option?
Alex's McCain needs to pick on the gays more?

Bashing HRC:
Rebecca's Trangendered Inclusion piece
The present post
Finally, An HRC Campaign I Support

Well, I guess you got me, assuming my count is correct. 5-3.

I feel so much better now.

Two things, Chuck. First, this past week or two has had a flurry of posts about the HRC -- because they are in the news -- but if you go back over the past 6 months and count I think you'd come up with very different numbers. Not that the numbers are what really matter to you, which you clarify in your last sentence. Which brings us to number two.

What does it mean to "bash" an organization? Any criticism whatsoever? Or just unfair criticism? Or just ad hominem attacks? Does a report that an HRC dinner was protested count as "bashing"?

Personally, I think "bashing" would mean an unfair and unwarranted baseless attack or ad hominem. I'm not saying that doesn't happen in the comments, but I've noticed the editors do a lot of work to limit anything of that nature on the front page posts.

Stinging criticism, insightful perspectives, and passionate indictments, on the other hand, is part of what makes this place great. If the criticism is apt, then characterizing it as "bashing" appears to me as little more than an attempt to stifle the airing of legitimate grievances.

Ah, this blog's favorite sports. Bashing HRC

I agree with Tobi -- the word bashing discounts legitimate critiques that have been made here and elsewhere on the blog. But in general, fuck yeah! I love to talk shit about HRC. I love to see every little crack form in the HRC corporate monster, and I can't wait to see their headquarters in DC crumble to the ground... hopefully replaced by a queer/trans youth shelter.

Actually Chuck, we spend more time bashing right-wing Christians, Republicans and homophobes/transphobes.

Well technically HRC counts as homophobes and transphobes so...

Bash-verb. To criticize (another) harshly, accusatorially, and threateningly. Nothing in any dictionary I could find denotes illegitimate critiques.

Actually, Tobi, in my original post, I also pointed out the second part-the insulting of anyone who dares defend HRC. I notice you don't address that point, but oh well. This thread was actually the most civil of the HRC related threads in a while, with only two direct insults of the defender.

Legitimate criticism is always welcome, and is indeed one of the things that make this site great. But at what point does legitimate criticism turn into ad naseum bitching? A somewhat rhetorical question, but I think a valid one.

I alluded to my senior thesis earlier. Apathy and acrimony. Bitching, but doing nothing to foment real change. Also, bitching about how those working for change aren't doing things exactly how you want them to, so they must be torn down. In my thesis (which sadly was lost when my college computer crashed and burned, since the hard copies disappeared in one of my earlier moves, unless the college has one around somewhere), I pointed out that this is a problem in any social movement organization, but seems a particular problem among the LGBT community. And this was 2002, when some of the real dicisive battles were yet to come.

My point being that instead of the numerous posts bashing existing organizations, why not work to civilly build up what we do have. I know some will immediately try to trot our their resumes in a knee jerk reaction to that statement, and that is to be expected. I know some ponies will continue to their HRC bashing on this blog, because for some, it is the only trick they know. Go ahead. But don't be suprised when your efforts result in a loss rather than a gain.

Bash-verb. To criticize (another) harshly, accusatorially, and threateningly. Nothing in any dictionary I could find denotes illegitimate critiques.

You can trot out literal definitions all day long, but I know the connotations of the word bash. I do appreciate your alleged search through multiple dictionaries though...

I alluded to my senior thesis earlier. Apathy and acrimony. Bitching, but doing nothing to foment real change.

The very basis of your thesis rests on flawed and privileged logic. Your distinction between bitching and what you perceive to be "real action" toward social/political change is a false one. I believe that bitching can be, and often is, a revolutionary act in itself. Bitching (and being a bitch) is a tool that can empower marginalized people to resist authority and dominant culture, and there is a rich history of people (particularly women and queers) doing just that.

And this was 2002, when some of the real dicisive battles were yet to come.

Sure, there have been a lot of crucial events that have happened in the past 6 years, particularly with regards to trans folks. But it’s just historically inaccurate to suggest that there was ever a unified GLBT movement. Division has always existed, and more to the point – those with the least power have always been marginalized ...of course you are right that with the growth of the nonprofit industrial complex it certainly feels like more and more people doing social justice work are being silenced.

My point being that instead of the numerous posts bashing existing organizations, why not work to civilly build up what we do have.

I don’t want to build up HRC. It is a corporate monster fighting to erase any queer that dares to exist in (or outside) the margins of mainstream gay and lesbian identity; queers who exist in the borderlands of gender, in poverty, and without citizenship (of different kinds). HRC succeeds when the people that I love and build community with no longer exist.

So fuck yes, I’m going to bitch about it!

Chuck,

First let me say thanks for your civil and thoughtful reply. Not to put all the blame on one side, but I think that part of what derails the dialogue is when people respond to these criticisms with something like "The HRC is the best organization in existence" and don't engage these concerns at all.

I also pointed out the second part-the insulting of anyone who dares defend HRC. I notice you don't address that point, but oh well.

Your focus was also on the front page posts, recognizing that comment discussion gets a lot more heated. And pretty much the entirety of how that happens is in the comments.

But at what point does legitimate criticism turn into ad naseum bitching?

This is a crucial question, to which I have an answer: at the point in which the listener loses empathy for the pain and hurt of those complaining. Now, depending on the circumstance, you could say that it's legitimate to lose that empathy rather quickly. I don't think this is one of those instances.

Bitching, but doing nothing to foment real change.

You can't assume that people who blog must therefore only blog. In fact, on this blog I'd assume the opposite. People here are committed, volunteer, run organizations, serve on boards, and help out when the call goes out. This "bitching" if you must call it that, is part of a critical dialogue that is directing the scope and policy of these organization. Whether as a volunteer or on the board, I know that my "bitching" as well as others, has helped to make radical shifts in the organizations I work with in how they address immigration, race issues, inclusion of PoC, trans issues, and inclusion of trans folk.

I agree that there are cases where infighting serves no purpose and people are simply trying to gain a sense of superiority by claiming that their behavior is better than others. But in many case including this one, "bitching ad naseum" is how you shift policy makers, get attention for your issues, and build a movement. The content of this post (re: action and movement in SF) directly shows that. That action would not have been possible without "bitching" like this.

I think that Tobi really has hit on something about those doing what appears to be the most bitching. They are really the ones who are actually on the front line fighting for equality. They are the ones who know from experience of which they speak. Some are activist who have lobbied many times and others are people who, by what they do (blogging) keeps them updated on the issues.

People I can name on these comments alone I can name who fit that description are Kathy, Katrina, Monica Roberts, Alex, Zoe, Rebbeca, Bil and AJ. (I don't know all of you.) For me, I am on the advisory board of one national trans organization, the board of another and the President and Co-Founder of a 3rd.

We are not bitching to see our names pop up in the comment section. We are all showing our frustration on all the history we have seen and lived through with HRC, and how it repeats itself over and over again. To me, when the people I named above speak (and several others who post or comment) then those with little national experience should at least take those people's experience into account. It is true, we don't display our activist bio each time we post, but just ask. There is more experience with the commenters on this post alone to run a very successful organization.

Been there. Done that. Got the "T" shirt to prove it.

"But it’s just historically inaccurate to suggest that there was ever a unified GLBT movement."

That is part of the problem-the dynamic in the LGBT community has oftentimes prevented a unitied front that have existed in other social movements. Lots of reasons for this, but too detailed to go into here. I have too many student loans to get another doctorate, but it would make an interesting follow-up thesis.

Tobi, I think you and I are a lot closer to agreement than we realized earlier. There is a thin line, and it often difficult to pick out those who bitch merely to bitch and those who are the agitators (my preferred term for these types) who work to foment change. I am sure you have been doing this long enough to recognize the difference. I agree that the people on this blog are among the best and brightest, and few on this blog fall into the camp I dislike. The sample is certainly larger in the community at large. But even here, they are there, doing exactly what I described.

Ms. Helms, you make some excellent points in post 55. Points based on logic and reason. Perhaps you will use that logic and reasoning in your further replies instead of asking those who disagree with you to not "strain those last few working sanapsis between the two final functioning brain cells." While that might make you feel better, and that level of sarcasm is certainly appropriate to some, we should not reserve such comments for those who respectfully disagree with us. But your milage may vary.

I appreciate you pointing out my inappropiate comment. I do get carried away in the heat of the moment and I appologize. And of course, with the price of gas the way it is, my "milage" better be damn good. Good thing the price per blog character hasn't changed, or I would be broke by now.

Ie cannot imagine any local or state activist wanting to do business with HRC, nor can I imagine anyone in the T community doing so, nor can I believe that local organizations allow HRC to put on galas in their communities in the first place. They are lying, ignorant leeches.

HRC's largest sins are these:
1 If you have a steering committee in your state, you can bet that your local organizations are going broke, because HRC's galas and other fundraising efforts will leech all the disposable GLBT money out and send it to DC. Not much of it will come back. I'm glad $500K is coming back to California. How many millions have they raided from there? And, it gives HRC the ability to choose, by whom they decide should get their grants, who lives and dies in a town or state.

2. They have been antitrans in deed since 1994.

3. Former HRC interns and aides are placed as aides in key Congressional offices, and they actively block access to Members of Congress by transgender activists. I have personally observed this in action since 1997. They are still doing it in 2008.

4. They have attempted to subvert transgender lobbying organizations, and have used their money and influence to ruin the reputations of individual transgender activists, as well as at least 1 transgender 501c4 organization.

5. Political operatives from HRC, from Nancy Buermeyer, Donna Redwing, Winnie Stachelberg, and Lizzie Birch in the 1990s, to David Smith and Joe Solmonese today, have consistantly lied to and about T people.

6. Joe Solmonese at SCC. He didn't misspeak. He either lied, or his $25 mil annually budgeted organization didn't have as good Hill contacts as a nearly-dead 501c4 who lobbied with 10 people max, who knew in May 07 that severance was very possible, even likely. I believe the former is the truth, and if the latter is true, HRC should close its doors.

7. HRC has, since 1995, tried to choose who the leaders of the T community should be. They anointed Riki Wilchins, then when Riki was caught taking their money and backlobbying, they sought another one and found her. If you sleep with someone for money, you are a whore.

Griping about HRC is one thing. What to do is another. I'm glad to see what's transpiring in SF. I sit on a local GLBT board, and we are quite aware that HRC would like to get its tentacles in our state, to have galas and fundraise. I will do whatever's necessary to prevent that happening, all the way from hosting alternate events to discouraging hotel managers from hosting HRC galas to keeping them from getting temporary security and banquet staff. Every dollar they raise in your state is a dollar your state GLBT orgs do not have available. Protests are necessary, but a last resort. It is time to start interfering with their ability to hold galas at the expense of local orgs. Monica Roberts, from this list, and other activists, turned their backs on Vic Basile when a state org made the mistake of letting him be a keynote speaker for a banquet.
More of that is needed.

Polar - for #58
can you provide specifics (names of the congessional offices and who was lobbying / blocking / when etc) for your comments 2, 3 and 4. I adore your ability to write comments, but miss substance. We can all sling mud via our words, but if you are going to list out specific issues, then just like any article please give the specifics.

From the Bay Area Reporter....

Luna, who worked the HRC booth over San Francisco Pride weekend, said the boycott has not hurt the organization in the Bay Area.

"It was striking to me, the overwhelming support we received [at San Francisco Pride]. There were hundreds of people coming up to the booth to say 'Thank you for being there for us; you're our organization,'" Luna told the B.A.R., adding that HRC exceeded its membership goals, enrolling 700 new members that weekend, who were "overwhelmingly" from the Bay Area. The San Francisco HRC store also broke all sales records over the Pride and Fourth of July weekends, for every store HRC has ever had, he said.

"You hear quite often from a very vocal minority of people who do everything from hold rallies in front of our store to writing us letters saying they're boycotting this and boycotting that," said Luna, emphasizing that HRC's Pride and July 4 achievements are indicative of community support. "You don't hear a lot from the people who say quietly, 'Here's my $40,' but they're out there."

While exact figures were not available, ticket sales to the 2008 HRC dinner are "on par" with other years, said Luna. The organization expects more than 900 people to attend.