Thursday was a crazy day for me. I woke up late. I had a ton of homework to finish. I had a coming out panel. I had a work meeting and my regular work hours. I hadn't scheduled in a revolution.
But that's exactly what happened.
Thursday morning - the day of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act blogswarm, the day of the Human Rights Campaign's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" lobby day with Kathy Griffin - something beautiful began to happen.
The "gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender and queer" rights movement grew up and became the new civil rights movement. LGBTQ activists got serious.
You see, everyday people's lives, livelihoods and reputations are on the line every single day because they are LGBTQ. They can get fired from their jobs, denied a promotion or not get hired at all, discharged from the military, tossed out of school, get pulled over for having
a disco ball on their mirror, denied access to institutions others are granted, denied visitation to their loved ones in the hospital, or shunned from their families. A million things happen to queer people just because we happen to be queer.
It's not so, however, for full-time activists like myself. I don't have anything on the line. So many activists complain about these folks "not getting involved enough" but they put everything on the line every day by living in the actual world battling against society's prejudices closing in around them. We don't put anything on the line.
Thursday it began.
Activists put their livelihoods and reputations on the line. In a big way. On a large scale. Before the eyes of the world.
Lt. Dan Choi, one of the most respected leaders in our movement, who has put everything on the line, joined dozens of other activists in leading actions around the nation by chaining himself to the fence of the White House with Captain Jim Pietrangelo. At the same time, National Equality March co-chair Robin McGehee was handcuffed and taken away from the action in a police car and later released on $35 bail.
But that was just the beginning. As the day progressed, it got more exciting. Kip Williams led a group of activists into Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco, as other activists occupied her office in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington DC until they were arrested by police in riot gear. They were later released without bail.
A paradigm shift
Civil disobedience has not been much of a tool of our movement lately. We're really concerned with maintaining our reputations, with not being confrontational. With being neat and clean and planned, planned, planned.
This action was messy and shocking and didn't get approval from "the powers that be," but I think we're looking at a new era in our movement. A paradigm shift.
As our movement matures, our emerging leaders will make an impact - not by their ability to make people like them, but by making people respect them - by demanding equality and taking risks.
Careful hasn't been successful, and we've all seen that. It's time we all embrace what Dan Choi and Robin McGehee did yesterday--and put it all on the line. After watching things unfold Thursday, I'm ready to get arrested for my rights. I would love to start seeing a high profile arrest a week. Our big gay divas should go participate in sit-ins in lawmakers' offices--imagine Gaga actually going to jail. Everyone who believes in equality should be ready to get messy and get in trouble for equality.
Civil disobedience is the new queer order, and I'm ready to see us embrace it.