Cathy Renna

Goodbye 2009, Bring on 2010

Filed By Cathy Renna | December 27, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: media, politics

First apologies for not showing my face here for a while. Let's say the year is ending with a rollercoaster ride and a bit of a bang, both personally and professionally.

DSC02910.JPGSince many of you know me I will not offer up the wisdom, stories and joy my wife and daughter bring me. Friend me on Facebook, you'll see. Oops, gave away a big 2009 highlight - Cathy finally joins Facebook.

But it is this quiet time of year (translation: holiday week, after the dogs get me up at 5:30 and before the girls get up) that I have been thinking about the high points of this year and taking the leap to make some predictions about 2010. I hope you will read this and add predictions and contributions of your own about what 2010 would hold for the LGBTQA community.

In no particular order and certainly not complete in scope, Renna Communications (now with the wonderful addition of Laura McGinnis) had the opportunity to work on amazing issues and projects, and the honor of having a bird's eye view of the movement's progress - and lack thereof - during a year of tectonic shift in climate and culture both in and outside our diverse communities.

Here's a short and incomplete list of what passed through our office in 2009. Hint: I posted about a lot of these: Lisa Larges fighting for ordination; the Easter Egg Roll; working with Harvey Milk's nephew Stuart, a fellow Long Islander; authors like Loren Olsen, Jennifer Storm, Bill Konigsberg, Joanne Herma and Linda Goldman; films like Training Rules and Two Spirits.

The premiere of Two Spirits in Denver in November was a high point of the year for me, as Fred's Mom saw this amazing film let out into the universe. Look for more screenings and if you are at Creating Change come to our special screening!

We had the honor to work with the LI LGBT Center, Ali Forney Center, Williams Institute, Family Equality Council, CBST, Reel Affirmations, Capital Pride in DC, Lambda Legal and others. And we cannot forget SAGE, which continues to grow and impact the lives of LGBT older adults in extraordinary ways. Their affiliate meeting was one of the most fun and fulfilling weekends my staff and I spent all year. But being with Jerry Hoose to the White House for the Stonewall reception (he is a true Stonewall Veteran) was just amazing.

But is was the latter part of the year where I realized we were sitting in the middle of some great change. the post-Prop 8 protests awoke a sleeping giant, I believe, and we are now seeing a change in tone, intensity and commitment in many areas of our work.

Working with Faith In America, we took head on (again) the mythology of the Gay vs. God dichotomy in the media and in our culture whether it was Newsweek's publication of Brent Vholder's moving story of personal change to understand the real harm the anti-LGBT teachings he believed impacted real people, to working with Projector Rev. Irene Monroe to debate the dangerous Bishop Harry Jackson. DSC02989.JPGWe were thrilled to be brought on to help in the battle for marriage equality in DC in late 2009. And I was super proud to see my wife and daughter walk into the mayoral bill signing ceremony.

But as we go into 2010 I also see tremendous challenges. Our community is facing some truly core differences in strategy and tactics, language and tone in how we achieve our liberation. I am looking forward to the 2010 Task Force Creating Change conference in Dallas and hope to have conversations that shape the way we can do things.

Shameless plug: I have 2 academy sessions and some workshops that address these very issues: are we a market or a movement? A set of diverse communities or Gay Inc? We will also be doing some terrific media trainings.

My prediction for 2010: we will see major changes in how organizations do their work, the growing role of the blogosphere in making things happen, improvements in how we work together and (personal interest) how we can better both hold the media accountable and use it to educate the public.

The lesson Prop 8 and other losses taught us is that we have time on our side, we just need more of it. But there is a lot we can be doing in the meantime, wisely and well and talking into account the core obstacles we face and the need for a new, bolder strategy to move forward. There are plenty of the obvious "big ticket" items like ENDA, DADT, all of the local work happening to end discrimination at all levels, the need for more visibility of our diverse community, more complex conversation aboou who we are, etc etc etc.

Those are the things you can bet I will be writing about in 2010 - no prediction needed.


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No offense, but this post is a long, narrative advertisement for a consulting firm. It's nice that Ms. Renna is a publicist and media consultant, but I'm not sure how her rather lackluster recitation of what she did in 2009 merits a prominent post. Can I get my 3 minutes back?

it certainly was not meant that way, but you are of course welcome to your opinion - my goal was overview and stimulate other predictions - what are your thoughts on where we are as a movement and where we need to go?

No offense, but I'd be offended if the first comment I got was someone who didn't want to do anything but crap on me and what I wrote. I wonder how many minutes you spent leaving that witty comment?

Oh well, Christmas is over. Back to the "Bah humbug" spirit so common in the comment section.

if this kind of comment hit the "offend me" level I would have quit doing this work a long time ago - but I check, three minutes into this piece (unless you are evelyn wood the speed reader) gets you nowhere near the end where I actually engage folks

bah humbug indeed

It sounds like you have really been on the inside of some very important developments, Cathy. I particularly value your opinion, as an insider, that how we do advocacy is going to change. I think that our advocacy efforts, while creditable in many ways, really do need to change if we are to start moving the ship of state in the right direction. I think there's a place for both marketing and movement and grassroots, and they can complement one another. Some people say we must remain ideologically pure, but the truth is we have to get everyone and everything we have on board, or little else will happen in LGBT rights.

Jillian - absolutely right - and I think this web site has been a great place for some of that discussion - and will be in 2010.

we must integrate the different strategies that are out there or we will simply continue to direct frustration and criticism inward, but we need to start talking to and trusting each other more

I think what we've been seeing is something those of us who've been around for a while knew was coming sooner or later: HRC's fall from political power and influence fueled by the LGBT community's popular rejection of their completely ineffective (to the point of sometimes even detrimental) advocacy style.

It's interesting, y'know? Those of us who were too young to appreciate the political revolution and rejection of the establishment of the 60's and early 70's when it was happening are now getting a chance to experience what that was like, with HRC and similar groups representing the antiquated establishment viewpoint and its politics, and UnitedENDA and other like-minded coalitions representing the young, loyal, and progressive opposition.

That's what I'm looking for most in 2010, for our community to finish its reorganization and power restructuring at the top and for the movement as a whole to become more cohesive in our goals and in our efforts.

I'm hoping that 2010 is the year that activists and LGBT's get past the idea that it's about any individual subgroup or about any particular organization, and start working on LGBT equality from a holistic perspective, one which by its nature precludes the notion of any group of American citizens being left without basic civil rights as others are granted theirs.

I guess what I'm hoping is that 2010 is the year we all figure out how to work together to create positive change, before its too late.

Yeah, I want 2009 gone. I had four friends die this year, one by his own hand. My favorite aunt is dying of terminal cancer and another very close friend, and well-known trans man, Maxwell Anderson, is in the hospital with an inoperable brain tumor and is not expected to see 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHEod3CGskg

But, I now have a girlfriend who I love and adore deeply and who loves me more than any girlfriend I have ever had. I have made many new friends, some from right here on Bilerico. Cathy, I am so happy I can count you as one of my new friends. A Happy New Year to you and your lovely family.

Rebecca Juro:

That's what I'm looking for most in 2010, for our community to finish its reorganization and power restructuring at the top and for the movement as a whole to become more cohesive in our goals and in our efforts."

I think many people share this sentiment. I don't think the community has even begun to reorganize or become more cohesive. The reason is we have a lack of new ideas and innovation. It is always the same "tried and untrue" ideas. 2009 felt a lot like 1992, Clinton's first year in office. HRC is still the same - even after 28 years and $550 million. GLAAD has millions in funding, but their "purpose" has been assumed by bloggers. NGLTF is still "training" advocates, but not inspiring anyone.

While the author is busy promoting her business and that's understandable, what about 2010? What about the new ideas or an actual strategy to win?

The LGBT Community needs to be inspired and our dysfunctional movement needs to be re-ignited. This will only happen with a plan to win. Only 1 out of 10 people in our community participates or contributes. That fact should encourage all of us to recognize that we do not have a strategy or plan and to be painfully honest about our future. We have been doing the same things, with the same groups, for decades - and we have little to show for it.

2010 must be the year we let go of the past (and all the tired tactics) and we seek a real strategy to create our equality. In order to do this, everything and everyone must be held accountable. This sleepy idea of "incrementalism," with the uninspiring goal of "one of the days" isn't enough.

If we truly want equality, we will need to create it. Our movement has never been focused on that goal. There will not be a political or legal solution. Our "demands," no matter what the volume, will not liberate us. HRC (and others making a living off our struggle) and their millions in contributions, will not deliver equality.

In 2010 we need to figure out how to create our equality. I suggest we start from scratch. I suggest we objectively analyze ALL efforts and account for ALL our resources. We need a new direction and we can start by learning to let go of organizations and ideas that have had decades to deliver, but haven't produced.