Waymon Hudson

The White House Parties Like it's 1999...

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 30, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, Democrats, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, lgbt civil rights, Pride, Stonewall, White House

Yesterday, President Obama hosted a "celebration of Stonewall" at the White House, the first of its kind. While it may have been the first time a President spoke on LGBT rights in the White house for 20 minutes, I couldn't help but be surprised by the reaction of the cheering crowd and by people online.

whstonewall.jpgThe speech wasn't anything really different from his campaign promises: repeal DADT and DOMA (legislatively), we need respect for each other, we're all equal, etc. It was more words with very little action to back it up.

Yet part of me was moved by the President speaking these words from the White House, acknowledging us and our struggles. That's when I realized this reaction was part of what has given cover to our political leaders for years now, allowing them to lag behind the general public in regards to our rights and equality.

There was time when that speech might have been enough, but that time was years ago- before out elected officials, marriage equality in some states, employment protections from top companies, and a general trend towards inclusion.

It was a speech for 1999, not 2009.

I think as a community we must take a long hard look at our own complicity with the inaction of our leaders.

We continue to have an old mindset that even mentioning our existence or issues is game changing. That's an old, outdated model that we need to get out of. Words and speeches are nice, but only when backed up by action.

This isn't just a issue with the President. It reaches all the way from top to bottom- the White House and the Democrats in the House and Senate, all the way to our local municipal leaders. We are happy with Pride proclamations or politicians marching in our parade, but don't hold their feet to the fire (or money from their coffers) when we need legislation passed and action taken.

Our country has been pushed forward on its views about LGBT people. We are more visible than ever before- so much so that mere words and nods in our direction are no longer enough.

By being happy with the words that come from our leaders, we allow them to remain just that: words. At a time when every mainstream media outlet covers the Stonewall Anniversary and pop culture shows like "The Colbert Report" give full episodes over to LGBT rights, we shouldn't be happy with mere mentions from politicians. We are part of America and its time we were treated as such.

That's why I think that anger and impatience is justified by our community. Like any under-served constituency, we need to make our voices heard and keep dragging our leaders in the right direction. This doesn't mean we need to make outlandish accusations against our leaders (no, I don't think Obama is a homophobe or bigot), but we need to point out their inaction and hold them to the promises they made.

We must bring them out of the past and into the present.

We are no longer in the shadows. We see the faces of tragedy that comes from hate crimes. We see brave men and women removed from service in the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We see it all - all the faces that are affected by the discrimination that comes from the highest levels of our government.

The one thing we aren't seeing much of, however, is action.


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Well said Waymon, well said.

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | June 30, 2009 9:37 AM

you'll see my post about this later, but I think this was a significant speech and event on many levels. Being in the room and feeling the passion and sincerity - coupled with a realistic sense of how the kind of change we want will really happen - made me feel more encouraged that I have in a while about this administration. this is the part of the speech we all need to remember:

"And I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that.  It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago. ??But I say this:  We have made progress and we will make more.  And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps."

and we all have a responsibility to make it happen, too. yes, obama needs to do ALL in his power and we need to move our legislators so that they can catch up with the culture of 2009 the work many have done to education, enlighten and advocate for our humanity. time now we can see the true possibility for equality.

I actually think we are kind of agreeing, Cathy. I think it was a moving speech, but we can no longer just be happy with speeches and recognition. Like you said, it is our responsibility to make sure the change we want happens and that our leaders move into current times.

And I completely agree with the Obama quote you put up- judge him by his actions, not his promises. As yet, we have very little positive action (and some negative-like the DOJ brief) to go on.

"...our possibility for equality"

Obama saw that possibility 10 years ago when he completed a survey while running for a previous post, but he apparently changed his mind.

Hopefully WE won't experience the same kind of reverse evolution that our fierce advocate has...otherwise we can look forward (?) to experiencing investigation by the FBI and hanging out in illegal bars in hidden locations.

Don't give Obama and the DNC cover for being "nice." The Party helped create the untenable situation for LGBTs in this country both actively and passively. Fawning over the attention we get from them only encourages Democrat charlatans to continue the charade of being advocates.

They are the beneficiaries of our conundrum. They have us cornered - as long as we choose to stay cornered. They keep grabbing us by the collar and demanding our milk money or they are gonna turn us over to the skinhead republican in the locker room and we are too chicken shit to say NO: no more blackmail, no more protection racket, no more false advocacy.

As long as the Dems and their leader can count on our compliance we can count on their willingness to extend nothing to us because we prove that we are willing to wait for them to get to us whenever they feel like it and we keep giving them our milk money. It's a win win situation for the Democrats...has it been win win for us?

bigolpoofter | June 30, 2009 9:51 AM

Amen, brother! Another way of interpreting yesterday's cocktails of co-optation is that Obama's speech and the reaction of the LGBT sheep, a.k.a. "house Queers, gathered were a modern rendering "The Emperor's New Clothes." POTUS yaps and yaps about our struggles, then holds himself blameless for his inaction. The crowd, save the Mighty Quacker, applauds lovingly, though POTUS has effectively kicked our demands to, at best, a theoretical second term. The house queers sashay forth among the field queers to declare that POTUS is on our side and that we must have patience.

F*&% that! Our equality under the laws of this country is not a political football: it is our birthright, but POTUS and the house queers lack the moral authority to call our claim out as such. Instead, they allow the body count of institutionalized homophobia in the guise of DADT, DOMA, and no promo homo to mount. The fierce urgency of now is completely lost on Mr. Obama and his house queers, at least where our birthright is involved, as long as their access to each another's parties and purses is preserved.

That's Washington, business as usual.

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | June 30, 2009 10:01 AM

i am constantly amazing by the tinged racism and internalized homophobia in criticism of Obama and our activist community - "house queers" and "sashaying" from someone who calls themselves a poofter? please

now I totally agree that equality my birthright but I also live in the real world and that we need a variety of strategies to get there

save the hostility for the true enemies - if our community was more able to do that we would e a lot better off personally and otherwise

Michael Buchanan | June 30, 2009 10:45 AM

Cathy,

Why can't you see this persons anger for what it is? It is frustration over people like you who believe the real world has anything to do with praising inaction and empty rhetoric. You were in the room to hear him mischaracterize our anger and what did you do? You applauded. We are not angry at the speed of his actions. We are angry at the actions themselves. Defending DOMA? Offering piece-meal 'benefits'? Rick Warren? Gene Robinson being cut from the TV coverage of the inauguration? Donnie McClurkin?

And if being called a house gay offends you, how does teacher's pet feel? Better? Less racially tinged for you?

You are almost as out of touch with real LGBTs than the president and I'm sure that has everything to do with your 'access.'

We have nothing to be happy about except that social networking sites are helping us to by pass people like you who think you know how best to fight for our rights. You have had over a decade and I and many, many others are not impressed with your results. Time to try something besides lapping up crumbs that democrats decide the time is right for us to deserve.

Acknowledge our anger. Then do what you think you need to do, but do not lecture us.
Michael Buchanan

bigolpoofter | June 30, 2009 11:51 AM

Thanks, Michael. I have been acquainted with Cathy in her roughly two decades in the movement, and I respect what she has accomplished. We’ve got a serious difference of opinion on tactics and language, but we share common goals—and therein lies the beauty of social justice movements, that seemingly dissonant and adversarial views can all work in concert for a common end.

Michael, you make an observation that is applicable to many of our entrenched “leaders”: they are still trying to homogenize and sanitize our many ways of being politically Queer, though in the era of social media and immediate world-wide connectedness, our individual messages and feelings can no longer be stifled or pushed to the fringes. Further, they have become so invested in the political process and its trappings that they fail to process any criticism from those outside of the bubble, instead, for instance, playing the internalized homophobia and racism cards in tandem, rather than making a sound defense of why LGBT Americans should be settling for what we are and are not getting from Mr. Obama.

I trust that you understood that “house queers” and “field queers” summarize a disconnect created by access and privilege which Malcolm X eloquently called out over 40 years ago in the context of America’s then-350-year sin of slavery and racism. The words do not demean those enslaved and their descendants—many of my ancestors were indentured servants from Wales and southwest England, and parts of my extended family live in poverty in the U.S. today. Instead, “house” and “field” recognize that as one receives favor from power and authority, one’s perspective is easily warped, and one is invariably an instrument of that power, not an independent actor.


sa•shay
1: to make a chasse; 2 a: walk, glide, go b: to strut or move about in an ostentatious or conspicuous manner c: to proceed or move in a diagonal or sideways manner

I was going for 2b with the use of the word. A reference to “cake walk” came to mind, but few people would get it, and cake walk was an act performed only in the view of the oppressor, not those in the fields. Then, there was an image of the zombies from “Thriller”….

As Judge Judy might have told Mr. Obama, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | June 30, 2009 11:57 AM

Michael

I DO see it for what it is - and have spent my past 2 decades fighting the overt homophobia out there - the Catholic Church, Dr. Laura, Eminem, Bill O'Reilly, hate crimes etc etc etc. I spend all day every day working for change and trying to ensure our community gets to tell their story and show the world the truth about our lives.
I live my life openly and honestly and deal with all kinds of crap for it - but i am take that impatience, anger etc and turn it on the people who would love for it to weaken and silence me

You don't like how things are happening? get engaged. anger for the sake of anger is fine, but bitching is of no use to me or the rest of us. Channel that anger to do something useful. Lecturing? I am putting out my opinion, just like you....if it feels like a lecture that is on your end, not mine.

Michael Buchanan | June 30, 2009 12:14 PM

Again, do not lecture me Cathy. I've had enough with establishment lectures. If you can't handle the online rage that is boiling, may I suggest you skip over it and read what makes you feel less guilty.

And that's why I think the March for Equality in Washington, DC this October 10 & 11 will be the perfect time and place to "raise some hell", get noticed and push for true equality is so important for all of us.

Plan this vacation now.

Be there Oct. 10 & 11.

Mo Rage
www.moravings.blogspot.com

Obama is not included in "We" so he should omit that from his speeches. Neither is his speechwriter. I do not need some straight guy saving my day. I have the law. "WE" have the law. "We" need only remind and demand our representative honor all of us or "WE" can continue divisiveness as well. It is only "We" who are not equal under the law today. His words are meaningless mumbo jumbo and gobbledygook methodically manufactured for the history books. GONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Rick Sours | June 30, 2009 11:36 AM

To quote what I have previously written: "I grew up in a faith that was one of those that took part and got arrested in the civil rights marches in the south. Only with the help of others have any group in the past gotten full equality."

The LGBT community supports Democrats with our votes and our money; yet Don't Ask/Don't Tell has not been repealed. Hate crimes against LGBT individuals have increased during the last year with no Hate Crimes bill passed. Extention of health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees is still specifically prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act/DOMA. We are Second Class citizens!!


Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 30, 2009 12:50 PM

It’s not exactly news that there’s a major disconnect between the promises of Democrats and what they deliver. It’s been going on for decades.

Clinton promised all sorts of things, but like Obama what he delivered were a few unimportant appointments accompanied by unlimited free passes to ride under the bus. Clinton gave us DADT and DOMA and gawd only knows what Obama will do to keep the bigot voters he won from the Republicans.

If politicians act like bigots they are bigots. So why do LGBT folks promote their candidacy? Obama (and McCain) supported NAFTA, welfare for the rich and austerity for working people. (Obama, in spite of his lies supported victimizing Peru with a FTA). So why do unions support candidates who are so obviously anti-union and anti-consumer. Obama has nothing to offer minority communities but more of the same, which is institutionalized racism. Why did he get so much support from ‘leaders’ of the African American, immigrant and Latino communities?

Biden, the former Senator from Bank of America authored and drove through Congress a draconian law transforming bankruptcy from a way to aid creditors to an instrument for credit card companies to squeeze the last drop of blood from consumers. So why did some people, like Waymon Hudson, endorse Biden without reservation and without discussing his awful attack on working people and consumers?

It’s because what they have in common is the illusion that they matter to the owners of the Democratic (sic) Party. They’re wrong. They don’t matter at all. Their efforts, votes and money matter but their politics don’t.

Their plan to reform that party "by working inside the party" is as wrong as thinking that kicking a cop in the nuts so you can go jail will let you reform prisons "from the inside". It’s a really, really stupid idea. We have decades of history to prove it – both parties are still in the hands of militarists, the looting class and others who feed off of untrammeled economic theft, racism, misogyny, immigrant bashing and homohating.


We might have won in California if No on 8, unions and others had the courage to stand up to Obama’s blatant bigotry when he said ‘gawd’s in the mix”. They didn’t do anything remotely like that because they’re trapped in the last closet, the political closet.


We’ll begin to make progress when the hegemony of the Democrats and Republicans ends.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 1, 2009 10:10 AM

Wow, that new speed reading course is working wonders. It only took one and a half seconds to read the whole thing.

It's time to stop focusing on Obama and his words (cuz there sure as hell ain't no action to focus on) and look at ourselves and how we're going to fight for equality. Change does not come from the top and even Obama proudly said this yesterday. So, let's stop looking to him for answers. Obama's a bigot. Let's not be shocked when Obama speaks. Let's stop letting him drag us along. Enough said. It's up to us. Not him. Us. We didn't hang on every word Bush said about lgbt people, and he was a bigot. Personally, I'm not that into masochism. And that's all I'm getting from this never-ending focus on Obama's rhetoric instead of independent lgbt political initiative.

I just don't think that calling everyone a bigot is a)effective or b)accurate. My two cents, of course.

Angela Brightfeather | June 30, 2009 1:36 PM

START FIXING YOUR OWN HOUSE BEFORE CASTING STONES AT OBAMA'S HOUSE.

I have sat back for the last six months, watching and looking at pictures of GLB people in the press, on blogs, in the news and in printed material out there, standing next to Obama, surrounding him in meetings, talking with him, advising him, applauding him and literally worshiping the ground he walks on.

All that is just great and I feel that they have the perfect right to do so if they wish to and for whatever reason. In no way do I denigrate what Obama and his administration are doing right now. If anything, I am a big Obama fan, even though I wish he was moving faster by using his powers to move that way, such as with DADT.

But while watching all those people gathered around him, I have noticed that there is only one incident of an identified Trans person in that crowd and that is Mara Keisling of NCTE who was there when he signed the bill concerning women's rights. Any other time, the White House and the Obama's don't get to mix and mingle with Trans people because they just don't make the grade in the GLBT community enough to be invited.

I hear lots a yelling from gays and lesbians about not getting what they want in an expeditious fashion after fighting for so long, when it was Trans people who kicked of this GLBT movement in the first place, only to be considered lucky to have a token Trans person show up at one event where there is a picture taken. And when that happened, it was all over the Trans blogs and news about the "first" Trans person to ever be invited to the White House since WeWah the Zuni Princess in 1860, and they didn't know she was a man.

I think that some of you have to stop for a moment and look at some basics.

If I was to show up on a White House tour, do you know what would happen? I would not be allowed to take the tour because security would probably call me to the side an ask me why the legal name and picture on my passport and driver's license does not match up with my female presentation at that time.

Do you think that if I told them that I knew Mara and we are friends, that they would let me in then? Hell no!! Do you think that any gays or lesbians in the crowd that saw this happening would stand up for me as a Trans person? Hell no!!

So when your complaining about things not moving fast enough for you or getting undermined by the Democrats, perhaps you might start by looking at who is setting the example for them. Some people want full marriage rights now, when all I want is to safely take a tour of the White House without being embarrassed, walk down the street without geting killed and get a job or keep the one that I have without getting fired.

And you want to measure progress being made? That's almost laughable to the average Transgender person.

Edward Fox Edward Fox | June 30, 2009 2:24 PM

"given cover to our political leaders for years now, allowing them to lag behind the general public" (emphasis added)

This says it all. And it is not only on GLBT issues.

Well, this turned ugly fast.

I've been impressed with all the LGBT folk who were busy surfing manhunt to help out in any fight over the last decade who decided to pop in and see what the eggheads are up to. It seems they decided that they know everything about tactics in this movement and that the best one, it seems, is to leave angry blog comments all over instead of helping out in any of these fights.

If you suggest something to make themselves useful, they ignore it (I've seen that too much on this site as action alerts and other helpful information gets completely ignored by the very readers who say they know what they're doing). Or, worse, they say that you're "blaming the victim" by suggesting that we'll have to do any work at all.

It's this particularly lazy section of the community that seems the angriest right now and is most willing to say they know better than people who've been doing work for decades on these issues. Maybe you have another strategy, and that's great, but did you ever think about implementing it instead of just bashing Cathy Renna for who knows what reason?

There is a respectful debate that's possible on this (thank you waymon). But just getting angry at someone who's done about 1000 times more than you'll ever do for the movement because she isn't boycotting something that isn't boycottable is just plain idiotic.

Oh, well. I think I just violated the new gay rights movement's PC in about 10 ways in this comments. Feel free to trash me because I said that gay people have to work for their civil rights instead of just eating nachos and leaving angry blog comments around the internet. Feel free to trash me because I said we can have multiple strategies working at the same time. And feel free to trash me because I didn't say Obama was a "bigot."

But don't trash Cathy because she went to that reception when if you're honest with yourselves you know that LGBT people not attending wouldn't have done shit for anyone.

Just so, Alex (Blaze). It seems all people want to do out here on the "internets" is get--and stay--angry, anyway, but when you add in opinionated people who just want to be lazy and/or apathetic and critical, it's a really negative equation that doesn't lead to progress on or in anything, does it?

So again, let's plan on meeting in Washington--all of us--Oct. 10 and 11 on the Mall for the March for Equality. Let's turn out in large numbers and take a stand, folks. Plan the "working vacation" now.

See you there.

Mo Rage
www.moravings.blogspot.com
www.kcphotogblog.blogspot.com

Cathy:
The "true enemies" are not gay people expressing their outrage for a hypocrite of a president who does nothing but talk. There is no tinge of racism for stating that "We" do not need his understanding. "We" need leadership that stands up for equality. He is failing miserably at that on our behalf. That includes you i assume. Obamas willingness to prolong homophobia by not speaking up and setting the stage for change like he chirped through the campaign is not in his job description.

kevin burns | June 30, 2009 4:47 PM

KEVINBURNS4SENATE.COM openly gay mayor of North Miami Fl. running for U S SENATE, you can't change anything unless your at the voting table

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 1, 2009 10:08 AM

Thank you Waymon. Your posting has done a lot of good. It is more than time for every member of congress to be lobbied by each Gay org and individual available.

I cannot understand how a large or small group of people smelling from a long bus ride are going to make for any change in DC when congress is not in session. If we look carefully around the whole world we can understand that, unlike insular Americans, there is a great deal for this president to solve beyond our domestic issues that still mean life or death to our country and all it's people.

Americans can be distracted from what is important by the death of Michael Jackson. His death is sad, but it is not important. Consistent unity of purpose is important for our goals.

"I cannot understand how a large or small group of people smelling from a long bus ride are going to make for any change in DC when congress is not in session."

Media coverage, that's how. for two days we'll get the all-important media coverage. It's that whole "squeeky wheel" getting grease and out of sight/out of mind thing, both. We've got to stand up for our rights and this is one way to get the message out and keep our demands in front of the nation. For at least a few days, we will be front and center in and on the news and we will be a topic of conversation on news programs and on the street, with the average person, both. It will be important and it will be big.

We can't have apathy.

Andrew Conte | July 1, 2009 10:43 PM

I would suggest that one replay Obama's "Fierce Urgency of Now" speech....Check it out on YouTube. That was campaign rhetoric. Now we are told that better times will be coming. I have two very good male friends who are a couple living in Florida, with no protections. One is a federal employee, but the other one cannot be covered by his health insurance. They live every day in limbo with no legal protections of any kind whatsoever. They both are very discouraged by the evaporating "fierce urgency of now"

Andrew Conte | July 1, 2009 10:44 PM

I would suggest that one replay Obama's "Fierce Urgency of Now" speech....Check it out on YouTube. That was campaign rhetoric. Now we are told that better times will be coming. I have two very good male friends who are a couple living in Florida, with no protections. One is a federal employee, but the other one cannot be covered by his health insurance. They live every day in limbo with no legal protections of any kind whatsoever. They both are very discouraged by the evaporating "fierce urgency of now"