Phil Reese

The Equality March Endorsement List and Me

Filed By Phil Reese | September 02, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: lgbgt rights movement, National Equality March, politics

Yesterday, Towleroad unveiled a massive roster of A-list supporters for the National Equality March. We'll be marching next to my boyhood crush Chad Allen, Mad Men's Bryan Batt, my current crush Dustin Lance Black, Alan Cummings, Harvey Fierstein, the ever-gorgeous Judith Light, Jack Mackenroth, Judy Shepard, Charlize Theron, Bruce Vilanch and Judge David Young this National Coming Out Day.

It's an illustrious list full of A-list actors, politicos (Tom Duane, Tammy Baldwin, Danny O'Donnel, David Mixner, Richard Socarides and Christine Quinn are all on the list too) and movers and shakers from all over this great nation. Star-studded would be the descriptor.

I haven't exactly been ecstatic about the march, but I know its being done in good faith. Everywhere I look I see more supporters. I'm surrounded by supporters: Bil Browning, Pam Spaulding and other Bilerico bloggers, as well as my two co-hosts from Lundon Calling, the legendary Mr. Ace Lundon and Lance Helms...

Oh... and me. Apparently I am endorsing the National Equality March.

I will make a statement in support of the march now, though I was a little surprised to be in this list. I think I can place the blame on Mr. Ace Lundon for this--and I'm not sorry, because this is a very impressive list to be part of.

This march did not come at a great time. This march is not the perfect use of our resources. This march is an incredible distraction from other local campaigns that I think deserve a lot more attention than they are getting.

However, though I was not planning on doing so, I would like to endorse the march now. The last thing we need is another nit-picking queen complaining about someone actually trying to do something positive in this movement that so desperately needs and deserves unity.

I think the march is actually not harmful for the movement, but rather going to be a great starting-point for important work to begin locally. I have my reservations, but what Kip and Cleve are doing is really something we need--we need a summit where we can learn how to harness our power around the country and maintain our momentum.

You Try Corralling Cats

I'm no seasoned veteran of decades, but I'm no spring chicken, either, when it comes to LGBT activism. Let me tell you something, this game has never been clean and neat and orderly. Its messy, and it's a jumble, and its amazing that we get anywhere or get anything done. But we do.

In 2000, couples from all over the nation--and across the globe--traveled to Vermont to have their relationships recognized by a government. It didn't matter to them that back home, they'd still be known as strangers. It was the sheer power of the moment. We've been pushing hard to see it everywhere ever since, with nothing but faith that good will eventually triumph over evil to propel us to liberation.

We've fought public opinion, hatred, violence, murder, economic oppression, religious abandonment and familial estrangement to come to this moment, where we now have the opportunity (after we've finally rid ourselves of the horrible shroud of King George II) to demand our rightful place in society as American citizens. Cleve Jones and the march organizers are asking for equal protection in all legal matters governed by this system of ours. That means that I should be seen as equal to my neighbor at my job--and be judged by the job that I do, and not by whom I'm married to. And speaking of marriage, we probably ought to have that too.

Despite our enduring questions, we owe Cleve Jones and Kip Williams a big round of applause and a thank you for the work they've put into the march. Its hard enough for me to get four queers together for a planning lunch here in Champaign, IL. I imagine it's a might harder to corral thousands of us from all over the nation, with our different agendas, personalities and egos.

Agree or disagree with the march, they've done something fantastic; in a totally uphill-battle kind of way. They've maintained a totally professional face amidst the months of criticism and the nit-picking (especially coming from the likes of me) and have slowly earned our trust and support by remaining positive and standing firm. We all ought to learn a little something from this.

Our Own Worst Enemy

A few months ago, Queerty slammed Servicemembers United for their "Voices of Honor" tour promoting the 'Don't Ask/Don't Tell' repeal; merely for pairing up with HRC, for all I can tell. Our leaders aren't perfect, and we are rougher on their missteps than Detroit is on its Red Wing goalies (they're not very nice, in case you don't know... we used to go through them like champagne on New Years).

Just last week in a fit of frustration, Gays United Network's Nakhone Keodara circulated an extremely bitter and unprofessional release about the Gays U.N.'s pulling of support of the Courage Campaign's efforts for the 2010 repeal of Prop 8. The infighting and name-calling has done, well, nothing. It makes us all look bad, and gives heart to our enemies.

No, instead we all need to take a second and say: "Just because this isn't the way I would do things--or even if its not exactly the most sensible way to do things--this is my brother or my sister. They are not evil. We're working toward some common goals. Maybe there are some differences, but in the end, we all want one another to be liberated."

Shalom!

So I throw my support behind the march. I only have one request: Pam, Waymon, Joe, Andy, and... Queerty: could you please update your posts so that where the list says "Phil Reese, Talk Show Host, 'Lundon Calling'" it also says "and Bilerico Contributor." I wouldn't mind if you also added "President of the Champaign-Urbana chapter of the Judith Light Fan Club."

Cleve, Kip and gang, please also see to the change and assure its added to any future releases of the list.

Also, if you use my picture on any of the promotional materials, bitches, make sure that you use one of my skinny pictures. I have a stockpile already pre-picked. Just check in with me, and I'll send them to you. You know where to find me.

Also, its my birthday today, so please donate to the LGBT cause or campaign of your choice in my name, and if any of you actually know Judith, I'd love to meet her!


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Glad to have you on board, Phil - whether Ace signed you up as his co-host or you were contacted on our own. :)

That list of 140. They are March supporters/endorsers, but they are not saying that they will march, right?

True... I certainly have no plans to march as of yet, and I'm on the list. However, I think its an easy assumption to make (and one I'm sure the March organizers wouldn't mind us make) that if they're ENDORSING IT, and they have the ABILITY to be there, and the TIME, they will be.

I haven't the ability myself. I wasn't planning on going. But some (COMPLETELY PLATONIC) sugar daddy might change that now!

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Thank you so much for your valuable and intelligent contribution! I'm sure that your organization takes a lot of pride in your statements here!

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Honestly, you know nothing about me. When I sent you my private message to you, I criticized a specific action as being unprofessional. I made no character statements. In this post I make a specific observation about a specific communication I received as a supporter of the group. It made me very sad to see.

Nakhone, you're just plain wrong here. I've been getting my hands very very dirty in LGBT activism for almost a decade now. I've held leadership positions, done work all over the country, lobbied our US congress twice, lobbied my state house numerous times, and set up the first ever scheduled in-district meeting on LGBT issues with Congressman Dave Camp from Michigan--a man who had been for 8 years avoiding any contact with any LGBT people in his district.

I wouldn't expect you or anyone else to know any of that. I don't intend to wear my accomplishments on my sleeve. However, not tooting my own horn does not necessarily mean I do nothing for the community. Your unfair reading of me is not based on anything that you know first hand. You are angry at me because I called you out on something that I did not appreciate getting in my inbox from the leader of an organization I was supporting. I did so first privately, to which I got a very nasty reply, and then mentioned passingly in a post that more or less had nothing to do with you when it was obvious from our private exchange this was how business was going to be conducted.

I don't expect you to respect me in any way--I think it would be silly at this point to expect anything but vitriol from you--but you are not an authority on Phil Reese and what he has or hasn't done for the LGBT community. Please don't speak as such.

Yeah, well, now you know how we feel. This is what discrimination coming from our own white brothers and sisters have done to us, it becomes vitriol. So, in a way, you're getting a taste of your own medicine. Imagine having to live with this type of 'vitriol,' or CLASSLESS discrimination coming from the white LGBT community, if you want to talk about class. As far as your email to me concerning the Gays UN's press release, you were less than diplomatic in your tone. Nasty and catty is what I got from you. It was all in your approach, Phil. I wouldn't go throwing stones if I were you. Before you go preaching about class and professionalism or diplomacy make sure you do a spot check on yourself cause honey, if you spot it you got it.

I think the point is Phil WASN'T contacted by anyone. They just added his name to the list, which is a professionally inappropriate way for them to work.

Anyways, Phil this article doesn't sound like you. It seems more like you're losing your voice as you're trying to walk this fine line that you were forced into.

I think we need to be focusing on these smaller local issues. I would love it to see Jones take that march right on up to Maine. Now that would be the right march to make and then he'd finally have my support.


Josh:

I understand your frustration. But Maine and California are not the only states in wuation here. There are hundreds of thousands of Gays and Lesbians who live in other states. Live in Ohio wheres thers not even an anti-discrimination law statewide. Come here and join OUR FIGHT?

See the Mrach is a demand from the GOVERMENT for EVERYONE to be RECOGNIZED AND OUR RIGHTS TO BE GIVEN.

In my opinion going the State by State route was the absolute worst decision that our so called "organizations" made. 50 seperate fights that all have the chance to be overturned and taken to the ballot box insterad of fighting Washington for full rights and recognition. Imagine if all the money that has gone to all the state fights over the years would have been focused on Washington where we might be and the pressure that would be on Obama at Congress at this point. Instead we chose 50 seperate fights that will peobably take 50 more years.

The March is FOR EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. To show our solidarity and what we want and demand for everyone. If the Mrach fails. Its because of the people who hemmed and hawed and took away from the strength and statement that it could make.

Hi All,

Thanks for your enthusiasim.
For another perspective, check out my 5 Concerns about the March For Equality.

I want to see your skinny pictures PhiL!

Phil - thanks for plugging the local battles. I have, in my abrasive little posts, been trying to call attention to the importance of the battles in Maine and Washington state, but what I'm seeing day after day on virtually all the major lgbt websites is that 'the community' is focused on the march, with precious little attention left over for the state referenda. And today's installment of Bil's interview with Cleve Jones has totally disheartened me. It sounded as if Cleve considers Maine not just an annoying distraction, but an unworthy endeavor.

I gave one week of my salary to the "No on 1" folks in mid-August. And I was watching the TBP contribution gauge in the sidebar and planning to use that as the vehicle for a second installment when my September paycheck arrived. But I'm now convinced that it would be throwing good money after bad.

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Very VERY classy. I have no idea why I questioned your professionalism in the first place. I guess I stand corrected! You're clearly VERY professional.

Typical of a privileged white boy to sling mud and then turns around to accuse a minority person of "being bittered and unprofessional" when we challenge the status quo. That's what happens to us marginalized and oppressed minorities, especially within the LGBT community, we resort to shouting in order to get through to the thick skulls of the white gay LGBT population. Call it what you want, but I stand by my decision to recant my support of the 2010 Campaign because our community is not ready to go back to the ballot. I see it as my responsibility as someone in a position of leadership, whether you like it or not I am in a position of leadership and I do have a responsibility to voice the concerns of the disenfranchised among us. Besides, I'm on the ground here in California attending meetings, am contributing to the canvassing efforts and have gone to the Campaign Boot Camp, Equality Summits and other events as it relates to what's going on in California. What have you done, Phil? I haven't seen you at any of these events and yet you have the audacity to criticize my positions? You need to check your motives and look deeper into why you feel it is appropriate to brandish the critics within our own movement as our own worst enemies. As a writer, you know that somethings need to be talked about and sometimes hardline positions are not comfortable. However, what you're failing to acknowledge and realize is that you have cover because you're a white man and anytime someone of an ethnic origin or any minority has the gall to speak up they automatically are branded as the enemy. That's GENIOUS? Really? Quite honestly, we agree more than you realized. Yes, I tend to see the picture when it comes to the marriage equality movement. I did and still do think we have to fight this battle on all fronts, nationally and locally. You don't know how hard I've fought with the local activists to try to get then to pull focus and transition into the national movement. They've been so California-centric and I have been vocal in calling on them to rethink our strategy. And, now that the National Equality March is upon us, I tend to agree with Karen Ocamb--the person I blasted for criticizing the wisdom of said March--and even you because I think we could put the resources to better use, such as sending volunteers to Maine to help with their efforts. We can't afford to lose Maine because we are a national movement and losing Maine will make it that much harder to win marriage equality back in California. This is not my first time at the rodeo Phil. I was recruited by NGLTF back in 2004 to go to the Power Summit and then I served as a volunteer Co-Chair on the Fundraising Committee of Georgians Against Discrimination Campaign, a battle we lost. We never got our acts together in Atlanta for the same reason, chief among them have been the white LGBT populations patronizing attitude and unwillingness to acknowledge their white privilege and listen to the people of colors in Atlanta. The Campaign structure was a mess and that's why we lost. I've gone door-to-door in that state having bigots slam the door on my face or old ladies running from the door like I'm a monster. I've gone canvassing here in LA and having to revisit the pain of me being kept outside of my dying lover's hospital bed. Have you done any of that, Phil? Have you experienced white gay men, some of them are close frinds, telling you to your face that they don't find Asians attractive? I don't think you have. Yes, I have a right to be bitter and unprofessional because there has been a lot of hurt that I've endured within and without the gay community. You don't get what's going on in California and you should stop pretending like you do because you're reporting on hearsay right now. That's what pisses me off.

Days before I even casually mentioned your email in my post this came from the Bilerico Project:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/08/gays_united_not_so_much.php

Is Bil Browning racist too?

Being privileged does not mean that I CAN'T criticize you ever. I said you acted unprofessionally. You did, Mr. Keodara, you did! You can't just scream "white privilege" whenever somebody white pisses you off by calling you out on a bad move. My criticizing you had nothing to do with me being white, just as your being unprofessional had nothing to do with you being Lao.

I have spent years fighting against racism, Mr. Keodara, and worked actively--ACTIVELY--in diversity, multicultural organizations. I come from a multi-ethnic family with immigrant grandparents and have witness racism against my own kin. Racism against my friends, loved ones and lovers. Once again, you don't know me.

I will not take back what I've said about your unprofessional action, and take big time offense at your continually inflamatory remarks about me because your feelings were hurt. I never said anything about you personally.

Get over it.

I happen to agree that Prop 8 was lost for the exact same reasons you do--minority communities are often overlooked by campaigns, and especially by white gays who tend to be frightened by them. However, I was not calling you unprofessional because I disagree with you--I AGREE with you--I was calling you unprofessional because you have a lot to learn about writing as an agent of your organization. When you're writing on behalf of your organization, you're not writing you own damn opinions, unloading, venting your own feelings. You're writing on behalf of everyone who has invested time, energy, support and cash in your organization. You can't call names, you can't be vicious. You can disagree, but you have to be civil.

THAT, Mr. Keodara, is why I called your letter unprofessional.

I'm done with you. I don't want to waste any more energy on this. I try to surround myself with positivity, and clearly interacting with you that's going to be impossible. If you continue to attack me PERSONALLY on here, you're not getting a response. You're just going to be talking into the wind.

I couldn't careless if you criticized me for being unprofessional. I know I was. That I don't begrudge you because you were dead on and 100% correct. However, you owe me an apology for clumping me as one of the worst enemies of our movement in your post. That's what I take major offense to.

I will never, ever get over that until you apologize to me on a public level.

I'm done with you as well, Mr. Reese. And, I'm done with trying to educate the LGBT white community because frankly I don't think it is my responsibility to do so.

And, to answer your question about Bil Browning. No, Bil is not a racist. And, Bil didn't write a post mentioning me under the title "Our Own Worst Enemies."

If you can't see that as slanderous, mean-spirited and cruel then your apology would mean nothing but empty words. A waste of breathe really.

I am wasting my time.

The infighting and name-calling has done, well, nothing. It makes us all look bad, and gives heart to our enemies.

No, instead we all need to take a second and say: "Just because this isn't the way I would do things--or even if its not exactly the most sensible way to do things--this is my brother or my sister. They are not evil. We're working toward some common goals. Maybe there are some differences, but in the end, we all want one another to be liberated."

I DO NOT FEEL THAT NAKHONE KEODARA IS AN ENEMY OF THE MOVEMENT.

I'm sorry that you understood it that way. I can see why you did. I meant that as hyperbole WE are our own worst enemy. not Nakhone, but our spirit of undercutting one another. Hence the last part there.

Anyone working for the movement is NOT working against it. And that is my point. When we send the same hatred and meanness to our fellow activists that we also send to our enemies on the far right WE BECOME OUR OWN WORST ENEMIES.

Nakhone, I value the work you do. Nothing in my piece was meant to imply I don't nor that you are working against the movement. I think its counterproductive to our movement to send out profanity-laden press releases attacking OTHER activists.

Does it undo the good you do? No. You still do great work. But wake up! Slinging mud at a fellow activist only divides the community and makes us spend our energy on this garbage.

BUT

I want to say clearly once and for all, I DON'T THINK THAT YOU ARE AN ENEMY.

End of story.

Apology accepted, Phil. Thank you for clarifying your posts. It was shock to my system that someone would think that of me. I do appreciate your suggestions and you're right that I have a lot of learn about representing an organization.

Quite frankly, I have taken a step back and soften my approach ever since the OUT West Campaign Bootcamp because I realized that our collective pain is all the same. When the oppressors are hating on us and persecute they only see us as homosexuals and nothing else, no race, no ethnicity, no national origin comes into consideration. As a result of that revelation, I decided to work on what's in my control change and let the chips fall where they may in other things that are out of my control. It doesn't mean that it isn't hard.

As I said before in my prior responses to you, Phil, I really value the pioneering work that you do as well. Seriously, and I really mean it from the bottom of my heart here, when I say the article that you wrote about racism within the LGBT was the cause of a community-wide discussion. I don't know how useful it was but at least we got to have a discussion and see good in some people. So, you can imagine the shock and horror I felt to have ran across this post. Anyway, it's water under the bridge now. Let's move on!

Most recently, from my protest at the Saddleback Church last Friday, I have a better understanding that we're all stuck in this same failed system and there's a lot of good in the world and to go and generalized is less than useful.

Anyhow, I appreciate you clearing up my name on this issue Phil. Thanks again!

Peace!

Mr. Keodara, he said that you were acting unprofessional and your continued posts of rants only solidifies that perception in others. Phil was put on something he wasn't asked to do and he has taken up the cause for it, when he could have chosen to direct his energies elsewhere. I wouldn't necessarily agree with that or do it myself, but I respect his choice. You can choose to be respectful of that choice as well or you can continue acting in an unprofessional manner.

Josh, I respect that Phil for being gracious in taking up a cause that he didn't necessarily support initially. Like you, I don't know if I agree with it or would do it myself and I do respect his choice. However, what I'm upset about is his clumping a certain segment of the community as our worst enemies. We have a responsibility to call each other out and I respect that Phil is living up to that responsibility and holding me and others accountable for our actions, but it is disingenuous to call us the enemies of the movement for doing what we feel in our heart is the right thing to do. He doesn't have to agree with my approach or my reasoning behind it and he should take his own counsel in his post that maybe he needs to take a step back and see it from another point of view other then his own. That's all. I know I cuss in here and other places due to my frustration and just plain anger. Put, to categorize me as the enemy and casting himself as the good guy is somewhat, um, self-serving? I don't know, I could be wrong, but that's how I see it.

Why are we fighting internally when there are more obvious enemies elsewhere?

Pamela Schaub | September 30, 2009 9:09 PM

I have know Phil Reese for going on eight years now. In that time, I have found him to be an active and enthusiastic voice in the quest for gay rights, and his momentum in this movement has only increased during his post-grad years. Personally, I worked with him in our university's gay/straight alliance in which we promoated the group through a variety for membership drives and social events, participated on a speakers panal relaying our coming out stories to a variety of classes to make others aware of our existance and concerns, canvased for GSA events including our gay and lesbian movie festival and guest speaker panals, and he personally spent countless hours planning for and putting in to action our Pride Week events including speakers, a banquet, a march, etc, and in addition, we were very closely with the department of multicultural studies to raise awareness of our diverse gay and lesbian culture and make know coming out effects those of diffent backgrounds. So to say that Phil Reese has done nothing for the movement is slanderous, cruel, and unwarrented, and the comments made against him were clearly made out of spite and insecruity in being a do-nothing themselves. Though he did not originally back the march personally in the beginning, it was only because he takes a "think globally, start locally" attitude. If you want to affect change; start where you live. If everyone does that, it will start to affect the whole. I personally am torn on the idea whether the equality march is a great idea. On one hand, marches are not cheap, far from, and wouldn't that money be better spent supporting local chapter of HRC, school GSA progams, GLESEN, and other glbt programs that function on a local or state level? On the other hand, the march would bring a great many people together and as history tells us, there is strength in numbers. A million voices is certainly louder than just one.

In closing, I would like to say that this is not the time for petty bickering and caddiness; we, as the GLBT community, need to be on the same team. If we start bicerking amongst ourselves, what does that accomplish? Percisely nothing. Divded everything that we have worked for for decades ( gay marriage, adoption rights, overturning don't ask/don't tell, domestic partner benefits, etc.) will crumble and fall apart if we do. We all have our differant interests, causes within the whole, and changes we want to see, but the fact remains that each and every one of those things is a part of the bigger picture and working together is the only way for all of those dreams to become realities.

Wow! Can I just send a virtual *HUG* to Phil?! I think back to when I met him years ago. I was an undergraduate just wanting to finish college. I would not have become involved or active in any manner if I had not met Phil. His enthusiasm and positive attitude made me feel welcome and helped me find my own voice. When I realized years later we again wound up in the same geographical location I was thrilled! I knew I had a go-to guy when I was ready to let my voice be heard again. Not all of us are willing to stand on the front lines, not all of us are ready to post and be heard and march. Some of us seek hope in others. Some of us are better at supporting those who support a good cause. Some of us are glad to have a friend like Phil who will go out there and work at something for the rest of us! Discrimination is discrimination. I can not even imagine trying to compare who was/is discriminated against more or worse. How does anyone else know that the way they were discriminated against hurt them more than the way I was. Of course there are the big issues out there. The major events that happen. But when we are essentially working towards the same goals how can we waste time fighting with those on our side?

Kathy O'Malley | October 1, 2009 3:45 PM

I just wanted to add my comments about Nakhone Keodara. I have known Nakhone for awhile and I know that he is a very, very passionate person for not only gay rights, but human rights and he works tirelessly to do his best to make this a better world for everyone. I hope that all people who are working for gay rights can work together in harmony, that way more progress will be made.

Tristam thats great of you!

But as far as people forgetting about the other "fights" I don;t think that the Mrach does that. As far as taking valuab;e resources away perhaps but I am sure people know what they can afford and they are not taking away from one to go to another. That imagining is as bad as a Public Option will lead to Universal health Care. You really don;t know and one does not lead to another.

As far as Queerty I would actually put them as NUMBER 1 Public Enemy. hauslaub and his minions have been bad mouthing and slamming the March for months for no toher reason as to create controversy and get people to read Queerty which is beginning to fail miserably.

And Frankly Phil I could care less if you endorse it or not even reluctantly after the point. I don't your endorsement is going to get anyone to go thats not planning too.

If your mistaken endorsement is such a HUGE THING take it to Cleve. Because personally I am about sick of negative nellies. Right now ANY PLAN or ACTION that can help futher our cause is a good one. We need to support each other instead of being back biting sniping bitches, (Except for Joe Solomese. Please feel free to trash that overpaid sucker into eternity.)