Bil Browning

Gays United? Not so much...

Filed By Bil Browning | August 28, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, overturn Prop 8, press releases, Prop. 8

Well, sometimes you just can't live up to a good group name. Fresh in the inbox this morning is a press release from The Gays United Network announcing they've changed their mind about when California's LGBT community should return to the ballot box to overturn Prop 8. First they supported a 2010 campaign, but now they've flipped to the 2012 side - tatum-in-fighting-01.jpgbut not without a few verbal jabs at 2010 proponents and the trans community first. (emphasis mine)

The Gays United Network (Gays UN) announced today that it has a change of heart with regard to going back to the ballot in 2010. It is recanting its support of the 2010 Campaign and aligning itself with Prepare to Prevail and EQCA's Plan and Analysis: Winning Back Marriage Equality in California/Building a State of Equality, effectively declaring its support of a 2012 Campaign to win back marriage equality in California.

"Our community is still too disjointed and the 2010 Contingents are largely made up of a group of detached, self-obsessed, arrogant and privileged white gay men who are unwilling to delay gratification by doing the hard work it will take to really build a community for all of the US's. This dismissive go it alone attitude at the expense of the most vulnerable of our community is unconscionable. Truth of the matter is white LGBTs are closer to equality than their LGBT people of color counterparts. The belief that passion and momentum outweighs preparation, building alliances and clarifying our messaging is childish at best and selfish at worst," said Nakhone Keodara, founder of Gays UN.

Oh, but wait. It gets even worse.

When was the last time you saw an Executive Director (or former ED, as the case may be) curse in a press release sent out to the media? The release doesn't actually announce that Dennis Veite is resigning, but instead quotes him as blaming the LGBT community for his lack of success in a leadership role.

The impetus that has caused a shift of perception for the Gays UN has been the lack of support from the community. In his resignation letter, former Executive Director, Dennis Veite, wrote "I just don't have the support that I need to make a go of leadership for this group. People committed to attending [DADT Protest] and even went so far as to volunteer for safety committees to help keep the protest peaceful and simply didn't show up; no phone calls, no e-mails. They just didn't show. Forty-four people committed to attending and six were there. We had fifteen police cars, thirty-five SF PD officers, twenty traffic control officers complete with barricades waiting on us when we arrived at the recruiting center on the 30th. We wasted close to five thousand dollars in city materials and manpower for a protest that simply didn't happen because no one showed up. That's a month's worth of medication for my friend Mike who is suffering from HIV. I can't tell you how it feels having that information in my head."

"For the Transgender 101, I was attacked and vilified and turned into this monster who hates transgender people because I was trying to reach out and learn and educate myself about a piece of our community that I truly do not understand and at the same time share that information with other members of our community to help others understand as well. Then I was vilified for canceling the meeting because practically the entire damn community was looking forward for taking part in it."

The release ends on a high note by detailing the group's decision making process, but I doubt most people get that far or even notice. The top sections of the release are so titillating - the racist, self-absorbed white guys pushing for 2010, the troublemaking transpeople and the lazy armchair activists - that no one will remember any responsible decision making. Instead, folks who see the release will be more interested in the in-fighting and accusations the group leveled at other activists and the community at large.

Gays United? Not so much.


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Anonymouse Me | August 28, 2009 11:25 AM

Ah yes indeed. I am a privelaged white male who does not want to delay his satisfaction at having obtained full equality in the eyes of the state he resides in.

I guess that makes me greedy.

Bil, the first sentence that you bolded says it all--they can't open like that, and close with "Yours in SOLIDARITY." Opening up the inbox and getting a faceful of hate and catty malevolence is not my favorite way to start the morning. My coffee is already bitter enough. Its from Aldi's.

Does anyone in California know much about the relative importance of Gays united? I've never heard of them before.

That was my question too-- I've never heard of these people.

I'm almost wondering how large this organization is. The email there sounds not just testy but sort of... personal. Like each person quoted isn't really even talking about the organization, just their personal grievances as a frustrated gay activist.

And what the heck kind of acronym is GUN?

HOLY SHIT, I NEVER NOTICED! HA! THAT'S RIGHT, THAT IS THE ACRONYM!

The name is also something of a throwback. Not many organizations got into the 1980's without being called Gay and Lesbian, and GLBT has been the norm for many years since then.

I do not wish to engage in San Francisco bashing, but I do think we should note that the activists being discussed here are in San Francisco.

Without going on the attack, I must observe that leading a group effectively in SF is more difficult than herding cats. There are so many factions, so many different and vociferous points of view, dotting the political spectrum from conservative Republicans all the way to fuzzed-out, in-high-elliptical-orbit ultra-liberals --- it's little wonder why someone who seeks to be a leader might fail at squelching the in-fighting.

Under such cultural conditions, calling a group "Gays United Network" is ambitious indeed. I enjoy occasionally visiting SF --- but always as a spectator, never as a participant.

AJ, this group is actually based in So-Cal.

But I live in SF, and you're right on about what it's like to organize here!

Well, aside from the low class airing of your dirty laundry in a press release, and the self-inflicted damage to the organization, they themselves must have been guilty of all the sins they assign to others. After all, they too had endorsed the 2010 campaign. Nothing like the zeal of a convert.

But does anyone care about what they think? Is this a case that no one knew they existed until they had a tantrum and quit? Just asking.

Actually I just don't care to hear about any organization that says "not now, lets try in 20' whenever.

It seems that the only thing 'they' want is money. Here in Conneticutt 'Love Makes a Family' started up and did the job they set out to do and then had a huge party and closed the doors. Why can't other activist organizations do the same thing?

Every left/liberal organization is like herding cats. It goes with the territory.

On the left, we all agree that there are many way to look at things and that it's valuable to input from a variety of sources.

Do you think on the right they're the slightest bit worried about not having enough input from women and people of color? They're quite happy with an authoritarian structure in which the leaders tell the people what to think and what to do.

We might be more effective if we became more authoritarian, more like the right claims we are. Of course we'd lose our souls.

I'll stick with herding free cats instead of constrained sheep.