Guest Blogger

Join the Impact? What impact?

Filed By Guest Blogger | February 15, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, The Movement
Tags: Elián Maricón, gay marriage, Join the Impact, LGBT activism, LGBT organizations, Mormon, Prop 8

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Elián Maricón is a PhD candidate at a university in an undisclosed location. He lives in an undisclosed location with his life partner and their two chihuahuas (Dick Cheney is fortunately nowhere in sight). Before returning to academia, he was professional do-gooder in San Francisco for many years. Elián is brand new to the blogosphere, and Queers Against Obama is his first blog.

The organizers of Join the Impact missed a rare and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real and lasting impact on the struggle for LTBTQI liberation. pic111.jpgAs you may recall, Join the Impact was the group that impressively mobilized tens of thousands of queers to participate in simultaneous nationwide protests. They put the whole thing together barely a week after a bizarre, pathologically dishonest, tax-evading cadre of magic underwear-clad cultists (a.k.a. "Mormons") successfully purchased the passage of Prop 8 via a multimillion dollar campaign of fear-mongering and lies. These protests took place in every state in the country, even in obscure small towns in states like Arkansas and Mississippi. That was an unprecedented achievement in LGBT activism, or at least for LGBT activism during my lifetime.

The Prop 8 Mascot

In the immediate aftermath of Prop 8's underwhelming margin of victory at the ballot box, LGBTQ people across the nation were glued to their tv's and computers, transfixed with hope by the countless images of boisterous and angry protests (& near-riots) that raged like wildfires across California. Although radically-minded queers (including, at times, me) mostly dismissed these protests due to the various motives we imputed to the protesters, the fact remains that LGBTQ people were almost unanimously chomping at the bit to help fan the flames of what could very well have become another Stonewall riot, this time on a national scale.

The passage of Prop 8 was perceived by most queers as just another example of the countless indignities to which we are subjected daily. Of course, Prop 8 was a highly publicized indignity, and it became a mascot of sorts for many queer people. Mascots represent things. Usually they are cute furry critters of some sort that represent sports teams or corporations. The Prop 8 mascot, however, was a disfigured horror barely clinging on to life.

When queers looked at their Prop 8 mascot, what many of them saw was the legal incarnation of socially enforced shame, lies, family-inflicted wounds (spiritual, psychological and physical), lies, Jerry Falwell, secrets, Matthew Shepard and the murder of thousands of other Matthews of all gender expressions who weren't pretty or white enough to warrant coverage on CNN, are you a boy or a girl, Pat Robertson, invisibility, lies, playground taunts, Rick Warren, I don't want faggots in my house son so get the fuck out, Gwen Araujo murdered and no one giving a fuck, the pope, god hates fags, vulnerable gay preteens raped by priests or their fathers, Exodus International, the New Jersey 4, and the condescending sneer of liberal heterosexist disdain.

Right Time - Right Place

Join The Impact popped up at exactly the right place and at exactly the right time, and they tapped into the revulsion that queers of all stripes felt when forced to behold their new mascot. The publicity surrounding the unveiling of the mascot allowed Join The Impact's message to reach queers living in the rural South, the barrios, and every loft-infested gentrified gayborhood in urban America. What followed was one of the most well-orchestrated and memorable events in recent LGBTQ history. I'm not entirely convinced that the rage that was on display in those protests was entirely due to Proposition 8, the plethora of Google-sponsored "freedom to marry" placards notwithstanding.

After the success of that first national protest, the momentum of queer outrage and activism facilitated by the folks at Join the Impact could have been the catalyst for increasingly raucous protests, coordinated acts of massive civil (and not-so-civil) disobedience, sustained direct action, and a new subcultural norm of bashing back (such as creating a Google map similar to the one that lists the addresses of Prop 8 donors, except this map would be dedicated to known gay bashers). We could have very well witnessed the dawning of a new and more menacing (and thus more effective) LGBTQ rights movement. An invigorated movement of this sort could have relegated the impotent and cowardly self-appointed leaders (i.e., affluent gay white male Uncle Toms) of the dominant (or "mainstream", as they like to call themselves) gay rights movement to the margins of obscurity along with their racist/transphobic/classist front groups like the HRC.

Could have.

So what happened? What did the folks at Join the Impact do with that angry momentum generated by those fabulously furious, gorgeously rage-filled, and strangely validating national protests?

They squandered it completely.

Ignoring the voices of people who posted numerous pleas for more "militant" future actions (e.g., massive non-violent civil disobedience) on their website, the leaders of JTI instead organized a silent candlelight vigil, a "day without a gay", and a petition to Obama. Let me say that one more time so it will sink in: They organized a silent candlelight vigil, a Day Without a Gay, and a petition to Obama.

What Impact? What Happened?

The Comintern leading Join The Impact apparently believed that courageously defiant actions like sending petitions begging Obama to "please, pretty please keep your campaign promises to be nice to us and do things like repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'" would actually have an impact. This ridiculous petition drive demonstrated that Join The Impact's organizers possessed a dumbfounding lack of awareness about Obama's character and history. It was as if a conscious decision was made by the group's leadership to descend willfully into a state of pathological denial, clinical delusion and premature irrelevancy.

I applaud the initial work of Join the Impact, but I think they set a new record for selling out (or maybe they never owned anything of substance worth selling in the first place). After the paleoconservative religious wackos showed up in droves to help Prop 8 eke out its minuscule victory, many LGBTQ people were momentarily roused from their trauma-induced state of paralysis, and they were yearning for creative ways to express lifetimes of pent up fury that would be cathartic, militant, and (heaven forbid) effective. A critical mass of queer people were finally sufficiently pissed off, fed up and seemingly prepared to engage in the risky work required to bring about real change and achieve true equality, even if that work involved cracking a few skulls and suffering a few skull fractures of one's own.

With a single posting on their website, Join the Impact could have unleashed a queer rebellion that would have made the original Stonewall riots seem like a friendly game of paintball. Had they done so, Obama almost certainly would have uninvited that putrid, purpose-driven mass of homophobic rhinoceros shit Rick Warren from his inauguration, and he (and the rest of our rulers) would have been forced to reckon with queer people on queer terms.

But Join the Impact held a nationwide candlelight vigil instead and Obama got a free pass for honoring a man with ties to Christian Jihadists in Africa who roam around looking for LGBTQ people to rape and slowly torture to death - just for shits and giggles. The moment passed. Sadly, the trauma-induced paralysis settled in again, while the change we could believe in turned out to be just another pedestrian fag joke we'd already heard a million times before.

These days, Join the Impact's website is little more than a collection of ads for online gay dating services and links to dancing penguins.

What an impact. What a waste.


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Serena will be thrilled with this piece.

Elian,

While I appreciate your sentiments, I'm surprised that you'd be surprised that JTI "missed a rare and possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real and lasting impact on the struggle for LTBTQI liberation." Do you really think JTI was or is the group to effect that kind of change? It was a pro-marriage group from the start; its whole purpose was to protest the passage of P8. There was never any evidence that their politics would be anything but assimilationist from the start, no?

I think we need to look elsewhere for groups that take on issues like police brutality and the general repression of the state. A group that's entirely focused on a reactive response to an anti-marriage agenda from the Right is least likely to confront the state's brutality; after all, what such groups want most of all is the validation of the state in the form of marriage and "citizenship rights."

At the same time, in the spirit of your critique, I do think it's important to keep their feet to the fire. My own hope is also that people who've joined JTI might eventually start to question the agenda and look for more interesting political questions.

Sigh.


Yasmin,

You are absolutely right about needing to hold their feet to the fire. I wasn't so much surprised as I was saddened and angered at the squandering of what could have been (in my view) the catalyst for a broader movement with the potential to have a real impact. The insulting Prop 8 mascot rallied people together in a major way, and had the leaders of JTI wanted to make a real impact (or had they allowed more marginalized voices a place at the table, even if those voices suggested actions that may have offended their middle class sensibilities)the potential was definitely there.

It's just sad. I'm sighing right there w/ you.

em

Monday morning quarterbacking at its finest. Congratulations.

I'm looking at the JTI website (both of them) and I'm not seeing the dating sites or dancing penguins, which sucks because I could've gone for some dancing penguins right now.

What I do see is that JTI quickly learned that their strength was in getting the word out, not planning entire programs. In November while HRC was doing a spa weekend they picked up the ball that had been dropped, relying (on less than two days notice) on volunteers, many of whom had no protest/advocacy/whatever experience at all. There was a noticeable void and they filled it.

But that was a short term goal. Long term, they seem to be moving into a new role, partnering with the NGLTF, ACLU, and others to get the word out on the action from other organizations in ways that the elder organizations don't use. That would make more sense, given that they call themselves "Join The Impact".

Who knows, maybe JTI's role will continue to evolve once they pass the six-month mark. Maybe they'll answer the question Alex was asking last Thursday about coordination between advocacy groups.

Regardless, if you don't like the way they're doing it, don't just hang around until it's over so you can post an essay on what they should've done. Pick up the phone (there's got to be a way to translate that saying to email), get in touch with them, and get to work.

Now. I believe I was promised some dancing penguins. I shan't move until I get some dancing penguins.

Matt,

My replies to a few of your statements:
--
you said:

"Monday morning quarterbacking at its finest. Congratulations...

Regardless, if you don't like the way they're doing it, don't just hang around until it's over so you can post an essay on what they should've done. Pick up the phone (there's got to be a way to translate that saying to email), get in touch with them, and get to work."
--
reply:

And why do you assume I haven't? How is it that you seem to know so much about me and what I have or have not done?

I have noticed this bewildering (not to mention tiresome and unoriginal) tendency lately for people to convey similar such sentiments as their first line of attack whenever I criticize the practices of a particular organization/movement they admire (or the policies of our new American Idol of a president). It's as if people are incapable of groking the fact that one can provide criticism of a particular organization (or social issue, movement, politician, etc) AND participate in constructive efforts to facilitate change...yes, change, I'm sure you've heard that word used a little bit in recent months... Criticism and activism/problem-solving/"getting to work" (as you say) are not mutually exclusive.

It appears the marketers behind Brand Obama have successfully convinced the public that anyone who expresses any form of criticism and so-called "negativity" (defined as a dissenting view or unfavorable assessment) is a 20 ton Oscar the Grouch doll laying in the middle of the street, doing nothing more than obstructing the path to the land of hope, milk, change and honey where Obama is trying so hard to lead us.

People seem to have forgotten the historically vital role that criticisms offered in the public square (oftentimes by ordinary folks, no less) played in shaping (impacting?) the current events of the day.
--
you said:

"Now. I believe I was promised some dancing penguins. I shan't move until I get some dancing penguins."

My partner and I just checked their site as well and you are absolutely right...all of the ads are gone now and they have revamped their site. Good.
Maybe some other Oscar the Grouch complained that it was tacky for them to try to make a profit off the misery surrounding Prop 8.

Oh, and maybe this will help you with the "dancing penguins":

hyperbole (h?-pûr'b?-l?)- n.

A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.

[Latin hyperbol?, from Greek huperbol?, excess, from huperballein, to exceed : huper, beyond; see hyper– + ballein, to throw.]

steve tabarez | February 15, 2009 9:16 PM

Touché, Elián. I get tired of getting the same míerda from the likes of people who just don't want to see that OBAMA may just not be inclined to take us with him to the promised land. Especially from a man that felt it necessary to run a "down low" campaign in his own african american community. What does that tell US? From Rick Warren, to Bishop Robinson; from the hidden lesbian couple on the train from Philly to D.C.; from quiet websites postings of queer people hired and "gay-friendly" committments(no mainstream press releases on those!!), to exactly no definitive dates set to enact or take the lead on our communities issues; it is obvious we are not that important. Meanwhile, all the major orgs. are organizing his parties. U kno how we just love a party! We need to open our eyes gente. And, start demanding.

Steve,

Watch it....you might end up getting dragged in front of the Hope and Change Tribunal and charged with heresy. :)

I am glad you mentioned how the major orgs are helping plan his fiestas and whatnot. One of the few things the HRC and the rest of the gay monarchs are good at is throwing a hell of a circuit party to raise money for democrats and rally support (the crystal meth likely helps with that) for things like hate crimes legislation that excludes trans people. Meanwhile trans people are getting murdered at such an alarming rate that even Pat Robertson is starting to grow concerned.

EM

Elián, I'm not sure what the paragraph and a half about President Obama was for. I've certainly not one of the blind followers that you talk about, nor have I suggested that you're some Oscar the Grouch.

You seem to think that every LGBT or Q in the country would be frothing at the mouth if only JTI had done it your way. I hate to tell you this, but I don't think that a "new and more menacing LGBTQ rights movement" is necessarily more effective, as you assert in your article. I'd rather not be associated with the flipside of the AFA or FoF. Just as those groups don't reach people outside their base, a queer version would do nothing to move those not already sold on the idea of LGBTQ equality.

It's not even like I agree with everything JTI has done. I just don't think they're singlehandedly at fault for the final downfall (according to you) of the LGBTQ movement.

And it's not like I disagree with you on everything either, Elián. Nobody banged the drum against Rick Warren louder than me (and two weeks earlier than anybody else, thanks for noticing), and I certainly don't think Obama should get a pass when (not if) he sacrifices our rights for political points with conservatives.

Finally, about the penguins: It's called a joke, man. Sheesh.

First, nowhere did I suggest that JTI was singlehandedly at fault for the "downfall" of the LGBTQ rights movement. I simply stated that they squandered an opportunity.

I apologize for not expressing myself clearly enough re: the paragraph involving Obama. What I was trying to communicate was that I've noticed that ever since the Obamania epidemic began, whenever one criticizes him (and this also now extends to mainstream liberal activists and their causes as well), the first retort from liberals these days involves an accusation that one is somehow being critical while sitting back and not "getting to work" or neglecting to "be a proactive change agent", etc...that one is merely being a Monday morning quarterback, if you will.

I fail to see how or why some people would make such an assumption about people they don't know based, for instance, on an online commentary critical of an organization. Nor do I understand why they think making such remarks is even relevant. And I've noticed that this particular straw man appears to have sprouted up alongside a meme the Obama PR has been spreading. That's all.

Incidentally, the AFA and FOTF et al have don't have to reach beyond their base that often because of the immense size of their base. Their sheer numbers have the power to influence the outcomes of elections in their favor. Not so for LGBTQ people. Good luck trying to sell people on LGBTQ equality, though. Although inter-group dialog, "reaching out" sage-burning, candlelight vigils & drum circles have a place in furthering LGBTQ equality by trying to change the minds of people who believe that their sky-god demands we be put to death, keep in mind that we may not even be having this conversation had it not been for the "menacing" actions of queers at Stonewall or the "menacing" tactics of ACT UP in the 80's.

The civil rights movement wouldn't have had much of an impact if black people had not been willing to boldly disobey unjust laws and engage in "menacing" acts of civil disobedience and raucous protesting, knowing full well that the consequences would involve beatings by cops, firehouses, jail time, lynchings & getting bitten by police dogs.

I guess we can agree to disagree about the need for a more "menacing" form of queer activism and what that may or may not look like. However, I don't see what I suggested re: queer activism as being the opposite side of a coin shared by the murderous bigotry of the religious right's entrenched power brokers in Washington.

I got your joke, by the way. It was funny. I sometimes forget that it can be difficult to convey nuance and tone via the internet when hurriedly typing out a reply. I do apologize.

steve tabarez | February 15, 2009 10:54 PM

Ok. Just can't let this pass. I get so tired of this new breed of "kinder,gentler" activist who owes this stance from the old meaningless policy of "constructive engagement" that REAGAN used to sell out for the interests of rich, white males. And, its newer incarnation of "post partisanism". I'm sorry, but I just don't see how highly charged, vocal, visible, and resolutely impassioned, and protest minded, civil disobedience inclined movement can be in anyway compared to the hatefulness, and demeaning attitudes and stances of the AFA. Those kind of comparisons just shows me how enlightened this new activism has become. Somehow, those who advocate real change, are now deemed: SO, "pre-" post partisan!!!! WOW.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2009 12:09 AM

Elián, I think the charge "Get to work," and its variations are the equivalent of the mindless, "Why don't you get a job?!" that reactionaries hurl at protesters of every stripe. (I've lost track of how many times I've heard it yelled while demonstrating.) Historically, that accusative phrase goes back at least to the 1960's, I believe, when it was yelled at anti-war hippies. Which would be just about correct, as many on the Right haven't gotten a new idea or clue since then. So you're in decent company!

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 15, 2009 7:11 PM

Great piece, Elián. What you're describing here is one of the reasons I've turned away from the "Marriage Movement" even though in the lead-up to the election, I volunteered many, many hours to defeat Prop 8.

I've written previously here about my experiences with the No on 8 folks--their emphasis on fundraising to the detriment of grassroots action, their ongoing lack of interest in the special talents, experience and "movement memory" of volunteers, their failure to get out the vote on election day, their rebuff of the African American community, and--yes!--their disappointing, ineffectual ads.

For fostering that, professional political "organizers" were paid a huge amount of money. I've yet to read any names, although I admit, my lack of investment at this point means I'm not putting energy into researching it.

To that list of criticisms, could I add, now that Prop 8 has passed, racism, anti-radical/queer/trans sentiments expressed by too many pro-marriage advocates, and as you say here, near-total ignorance and/or rebuff of militant, non-violent organizing tactics and demonstrations?

A case in point: at the end of one post-Prop 8 demonstration in San Diego, organizers urged the crowd to "Thank the police" for not impeding, preventing or harassing the event. That's right: thank the police for allowing citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble, redress grievances, and express free speech.

Think about that...Maybe we should provide a list of organizers and copies of all our computer hard-drives, too: just so the government doesn't have to monitor our phone calls and go to all that trouble of infiltrating our organizations?

At this point, the marriage issue in California is scheduled to be settled in the courts. If gays and lesbians are again denied the right to experience the perks of marriage, don't expect much progress from the Marriage Movement, unless this sort of deferential "insider attitude" is replaced by something more militant and grassroots.

Brynn,

Thanks for the compliment. So they thanked the police, did they? Wow.

I clearly share your frustration. As long as the "gay rights movement" remains little more than an affluent white gay (male-dominated) homotocracy, I doubt much change of any substance will occur. After all, our gay royalty who summer at country clubs like HRC and NGLTF wouldn't want to tarnish their veneer of blue-blooded respectability by say, risking arrest (gasp) protesting the way the cops and the DA (mis)handled a murder case involving a black transgendered victim. And unless I missed it, the HRC has remained pretty quiet about the black lesbians known as the New Jersey 4 who face serious time in prison for defending themselves against a man who was sexually assaulting some of them (they were charged with, I believe, "gang assault" and one woman was charged w/ first degree assault, all felonies w/ significant mandatory minimum sentences).

It's sad that they are so self-absorbed, because they actually have the resources to bring public awareness such injustice. Instead, they seem similar to Republicans in their belief that by pursuing their own (classist/transphobic/racist) self-interests, their "victory" will result in equality trickling down to us plebes. Maybe I should take Matt's advice and give Joe at HRC a phone call. That way I can change the sea I want to be (I can never get that damn Obama-ism right)!

EM

There is one place, at least, where the trauma-induced-paralysis has not yet set in. We're still hopin' mad here in Fresno.

yes, you heard me F-R-E-S-N-O!!!

Not only are we sick of having our butt's handed to us across this country at the ballot box, we're sick of having to drag ourselves all over creation to protest. Let's face it folks, it's places like Fresno that are systematically stripping us of our rights. Why in the world to we keep protesting in Sacramento? SF? LA?

You want something militant? Something totally grassroots? Something with no big, paid organizers behind it? But something that is provocative -- really, really provocative?

Meet in the Middle 4 Equality.
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=67768456248

We're just getting started, so don't laugh at our crappy little Facebook site -- this is only the beginning, help us!!! ...and join us!

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2009 12:15 AM

Jennifer, I just joined the group on FB. Wish you'd picked a different name: it's really hard for me to publicly identify with anything "middle."

;-)

It's a great idea. You're on to something. Keep up the good work!

You're anything but a "plebe", darling. If your deconstructionist talk hasn't clued you into the fact that you might be part of the same elite you deride, the part where you're a candidate for a "PhD" should get you started on that realization.

Thanks dear...but growing up in duplexes and trailers and then becoming homeless as a teen, getting back on my feet by busting my ass at jobs most people wouldn't consider doing (sleeping on park benches while taking classes in the meantime), then busting my ass working full-time to put myself thru college to get a degree in a low-paying profession, working for years after that, and then having the fortune to get a fellowship that allows me to eat while I work on my PhD....

That hardly sounds like the biography of Andrew Solomon to me.

While I agree with 90% of what you have to say, I also have to agree with Lucrese on this one small point. A PhD candidate does, inherently put you in the "elite" column.

But that doesn't have to stop the fire in your belly. Remember, Gandhi and Mother Teresa were both "elite" too and yet they helped the "common" citizen; just be sure to do the same once you get your degree.

steve tabarez | February 16, 2009 1:26 AM

I think the comment of "inherently" in the elite only applies if one buys into the credential society aspect of anglo centrism. Many don't. Including my godmother who only sees it as a means to beat the male dominated, anglo centric structue of acdemia. She doesn't believe that somehow puts her above anyone, and resents anyone implying that it does. Nor does my sister who begins this fall. Latinos have a different take on that. Especially old school latinos. And both Ghandi and Mother Teresa were not great because they had Doctorate degrees. Im not sure they would have thought so either if you look what it is they stood for. I could be wrong.

Bill,

I looked up the exact definition of "elite" and this was what I found:

1a the choice part : b the best of a class c the socially superior part of society d: a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence e: a member of such an elite —usually used in plural 2: a typewriter type providing 12 characters to the linear inch

Well, I suppose part d could one day be true. I have the potential to be one of the legions of those college professors who "exercise much power or influence", lol. To meet that part of the definition I'd have to reach the upper crust of the profesorate- and likely change to a different discipline before I do that.

That's not my goal. I'd prefer to work at a public institution that caters to nontraditional students and working class kids. So, there goes the "power" part of the equation

Steve is somewhat correct as far as my case is concerned- For me, the PhD (which I have decided stands for "passion has died") is the means to an end, which is to be able to have a job that doesn't involve touching feces or animal carcasses (been there once before....I was homeless & needed to eat) and, when I wake up in the morning, I don't actually consider suicide preferable to going in to work. I was actually ecstatic once when I had to have surgery that required weeks of painful recovery...In my mind, it was a vacation.

Elitism, like most words, has various shades of meaning, and it was clear which shade of meaning I was using. I am sure Lucrene knew that quite well...s/he just didn't like what I had to say and felt the need to make a personal attack.

And no, I don't think it puts me above anyone for three main reasons...1) having been looked down upon by others most of my life for my socioeconomic status and being treated like I must be an idiot for the McJobs I held, I would never behave in such a manner towards others because I know how it feels. Plus, I am PROUD of my class background and my amazing parents who busted their asses nonstop from a very young age at backbreaking, low status jobs they hated in order to keep their children fed and clothed. My father is one of the most intelligent people I know, he just happened to be born into the wrong caste. But he taught me the value of hard work and solidarity. I remember how he would often spend the whole evening at the union hall as a shop steward after an 11 hour day doing hard manual labor. If I am ever able to become half the person he is (in that respect), I will consider myself a success. 2) Doctoral studies has been a humbling experience for me, because I have now seen brilliance and I've been around genius, and I now know I cannot be placed into either category. The process has taught me how little I actually know. How could I possibly feel superior to other people after that? 3) You try explaining to your family members, many of whom clawed their way up to reach the ranks of the working poor, that you are getting a PhD. Then see how superior you feel. I have had some version of the following conversation more times than I can count:

"A what?"

"It's a doctoral degree, titi"(she's actually my great aunt, but she's still tití)

"SO you are gonna be a doctor huh? Wow. They make good money. Me, I couldn't deal with the blood though."

"Oh, I am not going to be a medical doctor. I am getting a PhD in xyz"

"WHAT? What is that? Well, at least you'll be a doctor, so you'll still be rich, no?"

"I'll never be rich, but I'll probably make about $x dollars a year and will be middle class"
(Of course, I don't bother to talk about things like opportunity cost, etc).

"You mean to tell me you are gonna spend all that time in school so you can make less money than your cousin so-and-so who is a Sargent in the army for 10 years now, and he didn't need no college degree for THAT! What are you gonna do that for? College is there so you can get a degree so you make MORE money not so you can make less money" (I don't tell her that I don't even know who cousin so-and-so is b/c the family is so huge that I am always hearing about "cousins" I didn't know I had).

I still have to explain to members of my family that I am not in medical school and will not, therefore, be a "real doctor".

My mother still sometimes calls to ask what it is I am getting my PhD in(I'm in my 4th year now) so she can respond to the questions of her friends at work (my mother, in her mid 50's, she works as a cashier for an evil corporation that barely gives her health insurance)when she tells them about "her son the doctor".

Do I feel superior? Not so much. That was never my goal anyhow. Will having a PhD put me into a category of people that is small relative to the general population in terms of educational level? Yep. Now, look at what most people w/ PhD's in the humanities earn (assuming they have a job in their field) and then tell me exactly what it is I have to lord over other people to make myself feel superior.

Maybe if I was born into the right caste and getting a PhD was little more than going to finishing school, I could be accused of being "elite". As it is, I am just happy to be able to get paid enough to eat while reading books and writing.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 16, 2009 12:20 AM

Lucrece, ad hominem attacks are a sign you have no argument.

The dictionary is your best friend, darling. Make sure to look up the meaning of words before you use them.

Excellent post Elián. My only addition is say that much of what you’re waiting for will happen sooner rather than later because US society is cracking up. As the social and economic situation becomes harder to accept for millions thrown out or their homes and jobs, as the war drags on and as the panderer in the White House becomes more and more like Clinton people are undergoing a radicalization of huge proportions.

That's happened before, notably in 1775, 1860 and during the 1930's and 1960's. In the 30's it was aborted by the Japanese attack on the US. In the 1960's and '70's it failed to develop a mass base beyond students, African Americans and others. The unions remained quiescent for the most part.

We're entering a period that will be characterized by the crash of the economy increased poverty, government crackdowns and political polarization. It’s won’t be a repeat of the cosmetic differences and bickering between right centrists like McCain, Obama and their supporters but between the hard right and the hard left.

Unions and the labor movement as a whole have been under concerted attack by every president since Nixon and badly hurt. The chief victims of that process have been African American, Latino and imported workers who'll form the first bases from which the new radicalizing will be felt.

In many ways this is a reverse of the situation in the 1960's and '70's. Then ten years of war and racist attacks created a battle hardened, large, left wing leadership. With nowhere to go because it had no one to lead. Now there are people to lead and no one to lead them.

Building a fighting left wing for our communities, developing fighting alliances with labor and other groups will give us new chance for fundamental change. Key to that is discarding centrists and sellouts who accept Obama’s crumbs and building a nationwide fighting GLBT left.

steve tabarez | February 16, 2009 12:35 AM

Oye, Elián. Una pregunta: ¿Como eres Maricón. Y yo siendome Joto, hay posibilidad que somos primos? Sorry. Just had to ask.

I just want to say that I really liked the metaphor with the mascot. And that I personally give a fuck about Gwen Araujo's murder. But the fact is, most people just have no idea what to do about the current state of LGBT affairs but bitch about it. It's going to take a viral campaign based on arts and creativity to motivate people, not anger and politics. Trouble is, no one knows whether a viral campaign works until it spreads.
Maybe if everyone arguing on this blog started their own blogs/podcasts/collages made of menstrual blood and old concert tickets to broadcast their ideas, we might be closer to a solution.

While thanking the police is a bit suck-up'ish, don't forget that what we have the right to is "lawful" assembly...and the police interfering is a real possibility.
I do agree that Join The Impact's focus on a single issue undermines it's ability to expand it's reach...at least for now.
I also find it interesting that whenever the comparison to the Civil Rights movement of the 60's is made, that no one ever discusses the fact that it was the work done by groups like the NAACP in the courts that actually changed laws. Of course the visibility of the protests had an impact...a huge one. But it takes both, to affect change on a major scale. The same goes for the LGBTQ community. Stonewall didn't start the movement all by itself. It served as a focal point and a public catalyst for the work that had been going on for years, and continued to to go on. I would venture to say that, in terms of progress after Stonewall, it was the Pride celebration held one year later, more than Stonewall, that gave momentum to the movement, at least in the public eye.

Alfonso Michaels | February 16, 2009 9:01 AM

As someone who hasn't followed this as closely as I should have, I find it appalling that an organization devoted to helping spread the word against Prop 8 has fallen into basic silence and is just a another thread bitching instead of doing.

Excellent article, and I'm eager to hear more about your thoughts on this and other Prop 8 related subjects.

Elián,
In the picture you provided, you look a lot like Zachary Quinto, who plays Skylar on "Heroes." He'll also be playing Spock in the new upcoming "Star Trek" movie. I hope you aren't offended by the comparison.

Great article! It seems that the economically advantaged members of the LGBT community have become complacent w/their inaugural ball invitations and Paul Smith clothes. There is a true need for organization and action through the court system to make real changes. Both protests and the legal system must be utilized to have "change we can believe in."

Can't wait to hear more of your thoughts on this and other issues!

Roland Winston | February 16, 2009 12:11 PM

My impression of JTI is they have made decisions on which way to go next, from the equivalent of a speeding car, on a trip they did not know they were taking. When Prop 8 is overturned, will JTI fold or morph. Won't either be ok?

I showed up at the 11/15 rally in my city, not even sure I would cross the street to participate. I left as co organizer for future events in Richmond. I have been disapointed in the events planned since. I also, have been disappointed in the production/outcome of those events locally. My choices are quit or keep trying to fine tune our efforts.

I think a number of things contributed to the huge drop in participation. The events were not bold angry (glamorous) protests in the streets, the CA supreme court said they would hear the case, colleges went on winter break, Christmas, the economy, and it was tough for people across the country to keep on fighting for the reversal of Prop 8. Indeed, my co-coordinator felt we should move in the direction of addressing issues that needed to be addressed in Virginia, like HB2385 (a non discrimination in public employment bill). It was tabled. Problem is these aren't sexy enough to get people in the streets either.

For the record, I'm still on Obama koolaid and intend to stay on it at least through the first 100 days. That doesn't mean I propose giving him a free ride for the rest of that time. Don't you think he will sign ENDA and the repeal of DADT and DOMA if congress gets to his desk? Well, we have to get them to do that. JTI didn't sign up for that job.

How about some of you folks being accused of being the 'elite' figure out the mechanics of a 50 state initiative to do that and get back to me. I'm not being flip here I mean it. Some of you know how to put a plan like that together. Do it and Join the Impact, or not, I am in what ever you call it.

Thanks for the article, and thank you to those who have posted ahead of me. We need every perspective and for all of us to hold everyone we know accountable. It is time.

Impact seems well meaning and I went to a few of the rallies which drew huge crowds due to Impact networking. I was at the one here in Palm Springs where a leather bear stomped on the Christian lady's (a divorcee) styrofoam cross. It was a platform for local elected officials to act out at the podium (Harvey Milk wannabe's) speeches and representatives of HRC telling the crowd to fight for our rights, ect. Some would be willing to go to prison or jail for their civil rights as did MLK and Bayard Rustin, Gahdhi, Thoreau, ect.
But most want to be cheerleaders holding car washes on Saturday's to raise money for the teams uniforms. Not being critical but some have balls of brass and some don't.

steve tabarez | February 16, 2009 3:18 PM

I've read many good comments here today. I like a few have stated, advocate the the need to put the focus, our energies, our people, and our time and money into a unified strategy for full civil rights under the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT. Acknowledged, explicitly stated, and codified. Through court fights, thru politcal avenues, thru organizing in throughout the country, going viral, through demonstrations and protests, it has all been covered here. This disparate, segmented, and fractious state by state fights, for each seperate right, only serves to argue, fight and blame one another. With all these different groups, in almost every single state, ranging from marriage rights, adoption rights, and trans health coverage rights, to pushing ENDA, to repealing DADT, to gay tax fairness, to how many more? The groundwork is there. The frame is there. The means are there. Each to work on their issue, but in the context of aiming for FULL CIVIL RIGHTS. I admit, this one person that I am, doesn't have all the answers . But, I do know that it seems that the National Orgs. aren't cutting it. Any idaes?

All the recounting of your Christ-like life does not need to be repeated twice. The story loses its pretentious feel after the first go.

Whether you like it or not, having been able to traverse the socioeconomic ladder makes you part of the elite. You still hold power and influence with your education, power and influence that a specific group of people will never be able to achieve (yes, surprising, there are people more disadvantaged than you, enough to prevent them from being socioeconomically mobile).

Being able to attend college and worry about books that interests you places you in an elite category. Especially if you consider how many people in the world do not get such an opportunity.

Elitism is not only about how much money you earn. It's about what you're able to achieve.

I could care less if you think I didn't like what you had to say. Quite frankly, what you have said is nothing special. It has already been discussed. You are right that I did not like something about your posts, however. For someone who has faced so much smugness in his life, you seem rather inclined toward being self-righteous, smug about those you deem as privileged. The resentment just oozes out of this post.

Wow! If you think what I've recounted about my Christ-like life thus far is tiresome, then I doubt you want to hear about that time I walked on water.

But never forget Lucrece: When I was up on that cross, I was dying for YOUR sins. I was thinking of you. Now that I am back from the dead, I intend to use the immense power and influence I have by virtue of sitting at God's right hand to save your precious little soul.

Oh, and you are right about one thing: Of course I feel anger and resentment about what I perceive as injustice. That comes naturally for the Christ, after all. But I couldn't match your smugness even with the combined power of the Father and the Holy Spirit at my disposal.

Anyhow, I'd love to continue this adorable pissing match you've started and that you seem to be enjoying so much, but I am needed back in heaven with the rest of my fellow elites, and that ascension is one hell of a long trip. But never fear...I will be looking down on you from on high. And being Jesus, I forgive you and I will make sure that you and all the other little people who are so beneath will one day be allowed to enter into My kingdom.

But remember that I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.

Ditto on what Yasmin said. And not to repeat any annoying "why don't you just get a job" (as Brynn so awesomely put it) sort of statements that I often receive when I post from people who don't know me or my work history from Adam, it does seem rather misdirected to spend time rallying against JTI, which isn't even an entity. It doesn't have much funding, I don't even know if they have paid staff, and they can easily be shoved aside for something more useful if anyone would just create that something more useful.

Instead they're a byproduct of people's sentiments at the time, and I don't really see them in a co-productive relationship with that sentiment, considering how many new resources like them popped up after prop 8 and yet they found themselves in the middle of all this noise. But I think the issues are deeper here than just what JTI is doing.

And don't worry about being called an elitist. Some days around here it seems like knowing anything at all gets you put in the elitist category. America's brand of know-nothingism hasn't escaped the queer folk at all, but, yeah, having a phd, no matter what your life story, is gonna make you an elitist. Sorry. :)

Right on the head, Alex. JTI isn't HRC. They're a bunch of people with day jobs who got pissed off, got active and - with no real resources and using only volunteers - pulled off something I think we all agree was pretty awesome. Anyone else could do the same - and should, if they don't like what JTI is doing now.

There, you Elian, someone trying to elevate to that iconic plane of the elite. I think elian has pretty much summed up what his view is on that. A MEANS TO AN END. Not an adornment, not a pedestal, not somehow making him more alluring? That's already there.Phd, or no Phd. why is that people just can't accept tha.

steve tabarez | February 17, 2009 12:14 PM

Guess, I am mising something. Just wondering how having a Phd. makes someone an elitest? and who determines that exactly? a recent poll? Uh, someone who they think has the power to deem someone an elitest. I think someone really needs to embrace something like that to be viewed thay way. Snob, maybe. Elitest, don't think so. Just kidding Elian.

You might want to be baptized before attempting to live up to your divine expectations. Even then, I'm not sure whether you're getting the destination right; since by your own moral compass, being the bourgeois amounts to a deadly sin.

Besides, I doubt your forgiveness is enough for me to want to share heaven with your hypocritical kind. I'm quite content with the easy tan at that place assigned for fellow unrepentant perverts. Don't resent me for my staunch atheism~

P.S. What do you have against pissing? For a fag, you're pretty discriminating of the particular way we can baptize our own ;D.

beachcomberT | February 22, 2009 6:03 AM

Am wondering whether we're too preoccupied with our own LGBT microcosm to notice what's going on in the rest of the nation. Many bloggers at AlterNet and elsewhere are debating just how soom the working class and/or middle class will take to the streets to protest banker greed, ineffective bailouts, widening war in Afghanistan, rising foreclosures, collapsing pension plans, etc. Hasn't happened yet, but maybe just a few sparks away. (Though some argue Americans are too narcotized by reality TV, Monday Night football, etc, to ever give a damn.) If a mass movement does arise, gay equality could become just a footnote and the least of Obama's worries.

steve tabarez | February 22, 2009 10:56 AM

Well Beachcomber, my world has pretty much crumbled around me, literally. And yet desperation aside, as I become homeless, and fight my old employer, and my state for benefits that are rightfully mine and have earned, it would make me feel better to the core of who I am, to to know that my world is crumbling around me as an "equal" under the laws of this land.

Am wondering whether we're too preoccupied with our own LGBT microcosm to notice what's going on in the rest of the nation.
. l>

A few are doing just that but most of us have to digest the collapse going on around us and that'll take a while. Especially since we haven’t seen the worst, not by a long shot. It took a while for consciousness of the need for fundamental change to grow during the Great Depression too.

Since the end of October last year working people have been losing about 20-25,000 jobs a week. The stock market has lost almost half its value and may fall even more. (There is some good news for business types and investors – collection agencies are a growth stock.) There are huge and mounting accumulations of unsold goods, consumer, agricultural and industrial including big items like houses and cars. Imports, railroad car-loadings and other freight indicators continue to plummet.

The awful US induced bloodbath from Palestine to Pakistan is actually being enlarged. For once, Osama told the truth when he said he'd escalate the war. 18,000 new troops are on their way to Afghanistan and civilian casualties are guaranteed to soar as a direct result. Osama is increasing the air strikes against Pakistan and Syria, just as he said he would.

Soon enough the magnitude of the crisis will become reality for even more millions and it’ll have a profound effect on the consciousness of workers, including GLBT workers. So far we’ve seen a few piddling pre shocks but as the economic disaster builds while the Obama government imposes more austerity measures we’ll see larger and larger pre shocks. Then the BIG ONE.

But not now. For now our most critical goal is to build a fighting left wing for GLBT movement and, leaving the Democrats in the dust, begin to launch our own serious, ‘won’t take no for an answer’ struggles for equality. And we should be in or join unions wherever possible and build alliances with them and with other groups fighting for their own equality. We can have our equality and a decent standard of living at the same time and it doesn’t matter what Obama and the fat cats in Congress think of us.

But first we need to organize ourselves.