Bil Browning

What do you want me to ask Cleve Jones?

Filed By Bil Browning | August 30, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Cleve Jones, interview questions, open thread

I'm doing a video interview with Cleve Jones today. I sent this out over Twitter and Facebook and got some great replies, but wanted to put it on the site as well.

What questions would you like me to ask Cleve in today's interview?

This is your chance to ask him what you want to know. I'll ask him all of the questions you leave in the comments section.


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Do you think any of our "LGBT rights leaders/organizations" will ever organize a massive act of civil disobedience that will FORCE our government and fellow citizens to take us seriously? So far the protests we've done for the past few decades have barely registered on most straight people's radar, and we seem afraid to appear too angry or entitled.

I say "LGBT rights leaders" not to pass off the responsibility to them solely, but to acknowledge that THEY have the most access and influence to plan, raise funds, reach out, and implement a large-scale act of protest.

Here is what I'd like to ask Cleve Jones:

What would it take to get you to move to Antarctica?

Why didn't you donate any money to No on 8?

1. Your main justification for the march is that people will be able to network and organize? When are they supposed to do this? In the street? In the couple of hours they have after the march before they have to leave for home?

2. At the march, will you commit to making an effort to raise money for the fight in Maine?

Previous question:

Given that you now want to spend a minimum of $200K of other peoples' money, why didn't you give any money to the effort to defeat Prop 8?

I've got a question:

Cleve, why do you care? I mean seriously, the people that have nothing better to do but complain (see above and anything Michael Petrelis says) are attacking you for taking action because they think...I don't know for sure...let's say they think you should do something else.

Now, I don't think the carping second guessing devil advocate types would agree on anything that should be done but that won't stop them from piling on at anything that will give them a moment in the spotlight.

So, honestly, Cleve, why do you bother? The attempt to organize LGBT people makes me extremely discouraged and convinced that we aren't worth it.

Oh - one more thing - if you can find a way for me to get back the hundreds of dollars I gave to the shitty and inept No on 8 campaign, I would be eternally grateful. I wish I had your foresight and saved my money.

See you in DC unless I decide to watch LGBTs eat themselves alive like the morons (i fear) they are and cancel my flights out of fear of just more No on 8 assholishness by people that would rather tear you down than do something productive.

1. Given the contentious beginnings and the "top down" origins of this march, and the extremely limited amount of time and money to organize it, how can you expect that there will be a sufficient number of people attending to portray us as a mass movement?

2. Since the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 had 150,000 people, how many people do you believe is needed to attend a march 30 years later to consider it a success?

3. If the march is disorganized and poorly attended, don't you believe that the attending press coverage will do far more damage to the movement than positive coverage would help it?

Given the general antipathy the GLBT community has towards self-appointed leaders, would you have called for this march if you hadn't been depicted in the film "Milk"?

I'm with you on this, Rory --- aside from the actual pros and cons for and against having the march itself, there is also a nagging question I can't escape --- how much of this is about making genuine political progress, and how much is it about keeping Cleve Jones's name in the limelight?

(Sour grapes? My grapes aren't sour --- they're pure acid.)

And just think AJ you could be the one to bring him down...yeah, man, that's it!!

You and your acid grapes can be the real deal here. This is your big chance...don't let Cleve hog that spotlight. It's yours, AJ...take it!

Good idea or bad, there's no getting around the fact that organizing a national march without broad consensus (or any) is certainly audacious.

And like many other things, if it's wildly successful, he'll be a hero. And if it's a failure, he'll be a bum. But it will be the community that lives with the consequences.

Actually, Patrick, it's entirely the opposite --- my objections are futile, thus I might as well crack a few jokes. (You know the classic saying of Philosophy 101, "I post comments, therefore I am.")

In case you haven't noticed ... not a single one of my comments on this thread have been entirely serious. To me, it has become a joke.

AJ and Patrick,
Keep in mind Cleve scheduled this to take place on his birthday. If that isn't an ego trip, then I don't know what is.

Bil,
Ask him why all the major national LGBT organizations (except HRC [*barf*]) have avoided supporting this event?

Wow I had no idea that Jones was just planning a big birthday party for himself.

You really have pulled the curtain back on this one Monica. Thank gawd we have you on our side watching our backs.

You are a real Morely Safer.

Patrick, I'm sure you can tell me this ... How do I sign up to be one of Cleve Jones's Flying Monkeys ... I want to be just like you!

Patrick, I'm sure you can tell me this ... How do I sign up to be one of Cleve Jones's Flying Monkeys ... I want to be just like you!

Ask him if he thinks of himself as an Agay?

Bil, please ask Cleve this -

Since the vote to veto marriage equality in Maine will occur just 3 weeks after your march on Washington - effectively too late for funds or energy raised at the march to affect the outcome in Maine - what are you and the other leaders of our 'community' doing NOW to insure that Maine doesn't follow California (and lead to Washington State, Iowa, New Hampshire . . . ) as places where lgbt rights were rolled back because the christianists organized nationally to fight for each state while lgbts squander our efforts on questionable symbolic gestures?

I realize that this is too late for asking Cleve Jones, but I think it addresses many issues unanswered by the organizers of the March:

I believe the March is an incredible waste of funds when there are desperate and urgent needs for money to fight for LGBT equality now. While the organizers say the March is being done with minimal costs involved, they neglect to mention how much each individual attendee will be spending for travel, lodging, meals, and loss of work income. The organizers say the March was scheduled on a weekend so that people wouldn't miss work. In today's 24/7 economy, no-work Saturdays and Sundays don't exist for most working class LGBT.

Attending the March will amount to millions of dollars that could be used for better purposes. If David Mixner's original prediction of one million marchers were to come true (a laughable prediction now) and each marcher spent $500 attending the March (a conservative estimate, in my view) that would mean that $500 million was being spent to attend the March. Think of what we could do for LGBT rights with that kind of money.

In my home state of Iowa, NOM has spent around $90,000 in television and radio ads in the last few weeks for one Republican candidate being elected to the Iowa House in a special election on September 1. All one hundred members of the Iowa House will be up for re-election next year. What is so bizarre about this is that both the Republican and Democrat candidates favor putting same sex marriage up for a public vote. How much money will NOM be spending in Iowa next year?

Why do people have to travel to Washington DC to learn how to network and organize? Why aren't you doing that right now on the internet so that people could be networking and organizing right now? Web 2.0 has replaced the need for people to meet and organize in person. I can't believe the number of people who say they are going to Washington to learn how to organize in their local communities when right now they are currently doing nothing locally. It doesn't take an expensive trip to Washington to get the courage to act. This reminds me of people who would spend money to get a special mantra from the Maharishi just so that they could meditate properly. It's a crock. Some people I have pressed about why they are attending end up admitting they are doing it for self-gratifying reasons and actually become hostile when I mention urgent efforts in parts of the US where they don't live. "I don't live in Maine! What is Maine doing to help me!"

I have addressed the possibilities that the March may do more damage than good for furthering the cause of LGBT equal rights before and I will not go into that again here. I hate making personal judgments about an individual, but since Cleve Jones has put himself front and center in this effort, I really have to question his motives. I have deep admiration for what he did with the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt. I served on the board of our local NAMES Project chapter. However, I am deeply dismayed by his recent actions. Ever since the movie "Milk" was released he has seemingly been on a personal campaign to make himself the heir to Harvey Milk's legacy. I have not seen him refute any suggestion of this in any interviews I have read recently. I believe this does an incredible disservice to the memory of Harvey Milk. I really think he needs to question his personal motives for organizing the March and reflect on the consequences of the March for the whole LGBT community.