With yesterday's explosion of activist energy, the LGBT movement may finally be shaking off its slumber and upping its game to win full LGBT equality. People in the community are mad as gay hell and not going to take it any more.
Involved in the day's actions were bloggers and netroots activists, legacy organizations like HRC and the new direct action focused group GetEQUAL. The day was messy, passionate, exciting, inspiring, and in some ways frustrating.
There was an explosion of energy, but will there be light to accompany the heat?
More important than the actions that took place, is the challenge presented by newer activists using the internet to organize offline actions to brick and mortar organizations like HRC and NGLTF that engage in more traditional forms of organizing.
The major question to be answered, of course, is whether online activism can result in offline political activity in the "real world." The answer is a resounding yes.
As a blogger who also works as New Media Director for an advocacy organization and who worked for HRC for five years, I think its about time the LGBT community realizes the internet can and should be used for more than hooking up. This kind "new organizing" that synergistically combines online communications with offline action has been used to great effective in other progressive movements and needs to be fully integrated into LGBT activism going forward.
To varying degrees of success, the players in the day's actions used new media to spread the word about what was happening, recruit people to attend events, shape the traditional media narrative, and provide an almost instantaneous play-by-play of events as they happened.
The day's actions will be debated intensely as the community tries to understand what happened, why it happened, why now, and most importantly, how we can do better.
Here are a few things I am taking away from yesterday's events:
Telling people to be patient is no longer an option. We must give people clear and effective actions they can take that will have a real impact.
There is no single "magic bullet" tactic that's going to get us full equality. We need to be in the streets, active online, and in the corridors of power.
We can't be afraid to make some noise nor should we dismiss the importance of putting on suits and ties and meeting with elected officials.
We may have different strategies, but we share the same goal: full equality for LGBT people. We should stop fighting each other and focus on winning.
There's more to effective political action than passion. Timing, strategy, and a well thought out plan are critical.
It remains to be seen what will come out of the day's events:
Will GetEQUAL become an influential player in the LGBT movement or will it fizzle out like Equality Across America, the National Equality March, and Join The Impact?
Will HRC adopt a more aggressive stance and put increased pressure on members of Congress and the Obama Administration to advance LGBT legislation?
Will LGBT groups work together on the kind of insider-outsider strategy necessary to move us forward?