Monica Roberts

Join The Club, Lt. Choi

Filed By Monica Roberts | March 30, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, GLBT issues, Lt. Dan Choi, military, Monica Roberts, people of color, USA

DADT Lt Dan Choi2.jpgrepeal activist and founder of the West Point GLBT group Knights Out Lt . Dan Choi was recently quoted in a Newsweek interview as saying he felt "so betrayed" by HRC.

I have great respect for her (Kathy Griffin) as an advocate. But if [the Human Rights Campaign] thinks that having a rally at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to wonder. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a joking matter to me. To be at Freedom Plaza and not at the White House or Congress? Who are they trying to influence? I felt like they were just trying to speak to themselves. If that's the best the lobbying groups and HRC can do, then I don't know how these powerful groups are supposed to represent our community. Kathy Griffin and [HRC president] Joe Solmonese said they would march with me to the White House but didn't. I feel so betrayed by them.

Join the club, Lt. Choi.

I experienced the same disappointment and moment of epiphany about HRC in 1999. It led me to join other transpeople who had the same moment of clarity to found NTAC over a decade ago.

it also led me to the conclusion that African American transpeople need to do more for ourselves in terms of fighting for our rights since white run and led organizations could not be trusted to effectively advocate for us and our issues.

You have not only discovered how your trans brothers and sisters feel about the Human Rights Campaign, you've echoed some of the same concerns, complaints and comments LGBT people of color have articulated about HRC for over two decades.

And by failing to support you at your White House protest, HRC once again has reinforced the perception that people of color are only welcome in the GLBT movement to provide melanin for photo ops, not determine policy or set the agenda for the movement.

One thing we people of color know all too well as Frederick Douglass reminds us, power concedes nothing without a demand. If the people leading your movement are too busy sucking up to the same powers instead of confronting them on behalf of the powerless people you purport to represent, it leads to an ineffective movement.

It also manifests itself in leaders that are resistant to doing anything that may put their own comfortable position at risk or engage in "tough minded" confrontational strategies that anger the defenders of the status quo they so desperately want to be a part of.

Lt. Choi, thank you for speaking your mind. You have now joined the expanding ranks of people across this nation who are seriously questioning the fitness of HRC to lead the GLBT community toward achieving the goals of full societal equality and fairness for our people.


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Yeah, you weren't the only one thinking that, Monica.

Although I do have to wonder about the context. He said he felt betrayed not by HRC's lobbying tactics or anything, but because Joe Solmonese didn't go get arrested with him on the spur of the moment. Did he really think that Joe would actually do that?

Judas Peckerwood | March 30, 2010 8:34 PM

It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. How many times do Solmonese and HRC have to fail the leadership test before the LGBT community kicks them to the curb?

It wouldn't have made any difference if Solmonese and Kathy Griffin marched to the White House, or even got arrested.

This publicity stunt went mostly un-noticed. Thankfully.

Judas Peckerwood | March 30, 2010 9:16 PM

Oh yes, AndrewW, just like those other failed publicity hounds, MLK Jr. and M. Gandhi.

It's 2010, the World has changed.

People know about our struggle - that's not the problem. Getting people to stand with us is the challenge. These stunts don't do that.

Judas Peckerwood | March 31, 2010 2:33 AM

So true, AndrewW, so true. After all, NOBODY in India or England knew about the struggle for Indian independence in the 1940s, and certainly NO ONE in the U.S. had any inkling about the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Andrew, I have a different perspective. You wrote...

[quote] It's 2010, the World has changed.

People know about our struggle - that's not the problem. Getting people to stand with us is the challenge. These stunts don't do that. [/quote]

I think not. I'm sure you are familiar with the book "Rules for Radicals". Movement from a win/lose situation never occurs until the situation has first become a lose/lose situation. Therein lies the key to civil unrest in any form. It is a matter of getting society to back off because messing with the 'N...' just makes life worse for 'the establishment'. Joe S. and the HRC seem to have decided they should play footsie with politicians when they should be stomping on the fancy shoes in Congress to put an end to politics as usual.

I would say we need more "stunts" not less. Just my humble opinion.

The LGBT Community invests more than $50 million a year on HRC and their "political games." I agree with you it is a total waste of money. We will not win politically as long as we insist on being a "weak minority." We must create a powerful majority of people that support equality. If we don't do that, we will never succeed in the political arena.

To suggest that a few of us should run around and make "some noise" and let everyone know we're angry - doesn't add to our ranks. In fact, it is counterproductive.

Would you rather hear someone complain, or ask for help? That's our choice. People know we're unhappy and many of them agree that it's unfair, but angry reminders, in the form of publicity stunts, do not inspire people to join us.

Your perspective is interesting. You seem to think it's about people joining us. Hardly. Surely you are a better scholar of history than to buy into the notion that victory is achieved by swelling the ranks with sympathizers. Victory is achieved by creating a lose/lose situation when your opponent presumed he/she was the winner in a win/lose situation. It's never about lessening your pain but increasing the pain of the opponent to a level your opponent no longer finds tolerable. Ho Chi Minn knew that and so did Truman. The list is exhaustive. It can be done with awesome weapons such as Nagasaki or it can be done with passive non aggression as Gandhi and MLK Jr. chose. But it must be done or you remain the loser.

Stunts? So Rosa Parks was a stunt? Mahatma Ghandi defying the salt tax was a stunt? Those people getting beat on that bridge into Selma? Stunt?

Yes to all of the above.

I wish I was brave enough to pull stunts like any of them.

Dan Choi is.

You can call them stunts if you want ,but, stunts are what get attention. Btw, this "stunt" was noticed by Newsweek. I say that is a pretty good "get".

It was "noticed" by a Blog on Newsweek.com and briefly on CNN and MSNBC. It really wasn't noticed - thankfully.

You really want to compare Dan Choi who comfortably attached himself to the White House fence, to Rosa Parks defiant stand, or Mahatma Ghandi starving himself and eventually being shot to death or Bloody Sunday, were 600 people were beaten almost to death?

Choi's publicity stunt is not comparable. In fact, it's insulting.

One of the problems of the GLBT rights movement is not enough of these 'stunts' have been done to advance the cause of GLBT rights.


Perhaps you could tell us HOW these stunts "advance the cause of GLBT rights."

Everyone already knows about us and our struggle. It's not a secret. Why attract attention? How does that help us?

And perhaps you could tell me Andrew, how you GLB rights struggle id doing right now without the 'stunts' and what you would do to advance GLBT rights without them.

You go first.

Explain how these "stunts" help us. You're the one promoting them, not me.

No Andrew, you first, since you seem to think that a civil rights movement can succeed WITHOUT direct action.

I want to understand your logic behind what you stated or if you're just selling woof tickets to be contrarian.

Tell you what Andrew, maybe you'll answer MY question without dodging the issue.
Perhaps you could tell me how your GLB rights struggle is doing right now, and what you would do to advance GLB rights.
Notice I left out the "T", because that seems to be the norm these days.

Thomas Johnson | March 31, 2010 6:55 PM

Ugh, you all exhaust me. This is why we can't get anything done.

Judas Peckerwood | March 31, 2010 8:03 PM

Well just sit back and put up your feet, then. Why work for equality when it will eventually just fall into your lap anyway, right?

Thomas,
You're getting 'exhausted' over this minor debate?