OK, so after the biggest flip-flop since "I was for the war before I was against it," I'm now gearing up to ready for my first March on Washington. Bil Browning jokingly threatened to go through Bilerico.com and find all of the instances where I said I would not be attending the march and repost them all prominently. Like Madonna, "now I find I've changed my mind." Why not? A lot of great things could happen.
If you're still against the March, I have no intention of trying to change your mind. I probably share many of your same reservations, believe it or not. However, I've personally weighed out the pros and cons for myself; not the pros and cons for everyone, mind you, just my personal reasons for going and not going. I still maintain that the March's planning process has been... let's say... less than perfect. Then again, perfection isn't a requirement for being a good activist or leader. Just an attempt to do what's right at all times.
I've donated my money to Maine, Kalamazoo and Washington; actually three times to Maine NoOnOne. In fact, I've given more to NoOnOne this year than I've given to ANY of my other usual favorite causes. I'm not going to quit giving, either.
But when all of the bills were paid, there was money leftover in the pot for me to do something else--and that something is going to the March. I don't see this as a vacation. This is an opportunity to meet and mentor some people I admire.
Some of the folk I sincerely hope come to the March and that I'm able to meet:
- The other Bilerico contributors, too numerous to mention (especially Michael Crawford, Alex Blaze, Tobi, Fr. Tony and Waymon Hudson)
- Dana Rudolph, who I--like a moron--completely left off the above list!
- Dana Beyer, who I also stupidly left off the list!
- Rod McCullom, one of the world's best bloggers!
- The Pam's House Blend Contributors (especially Pam [of course] and Autumn)
- Michael Jones from Change.org
- Joe Jervis from Joe My God
- Michaelangelo Signorile
- Chris Geidner of Law Dork Blog
- Toni Broaddus and other state leaders
- Andrés Duque of Blabbeando
- Rea Carey
- My cohosts on Lundon Calling Ace Lundon and Lance Helms
- of course, Cleve Jones and Kip Williams and everyone involved with the march
- All my awesome readers and retweeters
- All my old friends in D.C. (Lane Hudson) my old friends from the HRC and those I'll pick up on the way (Bil and Jerame)
I'm excited to meet all of these people, but more importantly, I'm excited to learn from these people and connect with them. When we get to D.C., we're going to have an opportunity that we've never ever had before in the LGBT community. This is our first national summit since the advent of new media and the dawn of net organizing. We're going to be able to plan and implement a nationwide strategy and network to support change at the local, state and national levels.
An Opportunity To Do Something Truly Meaningful
What we do with this opportunity is up to us. There will be a lot of great people in D.C. with whom I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun. However, I specifically isolated the people above because I believe these are some truly great minds in our movement right now. If we were to get all of these people together in one room with the goal of creating a solid and workable strategy, I'm convinced we will have one. Some of these people have already proven this--Lane, Pam and others helped create the Dallas Principles.
The Dallas Principles are a perfect foundation. We must use the Principles as a backbone to build a multi-level nationwide strategy that includes all parts of our community. Here are some goals that I have for possible outcomes from our summit in Washington:
- FIRST: We must not leave out any level of action: Local, State and Federal. Each of these is important, and I won't begin to argue why here. Each can also help the other, which makes them all critical parts of the puzzle. While we can not leave out any letter from the alphabet out, we also can't ignore any level of involvement. How will we create an atmosphere in LGBT leadership that encourages and empowers local movements, without supplanting local leadership while at the same time growing our State and Federal/national organizations?
- SECOND: We must create a framework for a two-pronged approach to advocacy on both the State and Federal level that doesn't compete, but instead works in concert: one prong dedicated to the passage of an omnibus LGBTIQQ Equal Rights law in all fifty states, as well as on the Federal level; a second prong that--in the meantime as we wait for this omnibus LGBTIQQ Equal Rights law--will continue to win with laws protecting parts of our goals, as has been successful on the State level in some states (if not most to some degree or another) and to also continue working toward our first win at the Federal level.
- THIRD: We must create a system that utilizes and deploys our current resources while simultaneously cultivating new resources from the ground up. We have a profusion of resources and connections, but we should not only rely on old models. We should continue using the old models to our benefit while looking for new models and strategies to reach our goals. A big focus on youth and grassroots here would be crucial.
- FOURTH: We can't forget about real life! What are we doing to try to lift up those who are struggling while we wait for our lawmakers to grow some balls? Our lobbying and activist organizations should do what they can to support groups that provide services that benefit needy LGBT people now. Community Centers, campaign funds, student groups, Legal groups, youth services groups, psychological services support and economic charities are important and need to be bolstered to the prominent status of our big lobbying groups.
I came up with these criteria unilaterally for my own "amusement" for lack of a better term. However, I welcome other goals for what will go down in D.C., as long as they are inclusive and don't put down the work that activists have been doing and will continue to do around the nation. I'm open to more suggestions.
What should guide any agendas is that we focus on the resources we have--including and perhaps most importantly our human resources--and embrace those in setting our goals. "No more crumbs," or "Federal strategy is a losing strategy" language is divisive and ultimately defeatist. We have a fabulous history with some incredibly innovative leaders. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. These must all be tossed aside to have any success here.
Backward-looking thinking will also be counterproductive. We must commit to not making the mistakes of the past, but we also must not dwell on those mistakes either. Our best leaders will help us deal compassionately with open wounds, but also deal with these wounds quickly and constructively--converting finger-pointing into problem solving.
Most of all, I hope that we come out with something constructive after this event. I would not be going if I thought it was merely going to be just a big ole D.C. party--and if it turns out to be nothing more than an ego-trip, I'm going to be pissed. I'm going to D.C. with goals, I have a feeling I will not be the only one.