Few things are certain when it comes to gay activism: polls can be misleading, the right can be shrewd and what seems like a sure thing can crumble without a moment's notice. For example, remember when Proposition 8 seemed like a conservative pipe dream, a ploy or publicity stunt? Then the Mormon Church got involved and -- well, we all know how that turned out.
No one progressive effort looks like another- not when you get into the logistics of it all, because activism's all about adaptability.
Adaptability -- that word kept repeating itself in my head during the Netroots panel discussion "Marriage Equality: Building a Movement Online." The panel, which included Open Left's Adam Bink, Freedom to Marry's Michael Crawford and Julia Rosen from the Courage Campaign, among others, focused on the different ways and means activists used during the marriage fights in Maine, California, Iowa and elsewhere.
Though that panel concerned marriage specifically, it provided insight for activism in general. Progressive battles are all about context. What works in Maine may not be appropriate for Iowa. Activism, then, must not be so rigid that when the winds of change blow, the movement breaks. Activism must be malleable: ready to shift gears with each new development.
Like matter itself, activist energy cannot -- or rather, should not -- be destroyed. It must be changed and shaped with each situation. If we use the same tactics, we'll never keep up with our ideological opponents who are constantly developing new ways to keep us down. It's absolutely essential that LGBT and progressive movements do the same.