Viktor Kerney

Is It Okay to Disagree?

Filed By Viktor Kerney | September 08, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement
Tags: civil discourse, difference of opinion, LGBT activists, LGBT community

Dear LGBT community,

We are fierce, opinionated and a force to be reckoned with. The one thing that bugs me about our community is how those having a difference of opinions are treated. For some reason, it feels like when anyone has a different view about specific LGBT topics, they become the enemy of the state. It's treated as a sin to have diverse opinions about anything involving our issues.

For example, many believe President Obama hasn't done enough for our community. However, there are many who believe the president has been good to us. The minute you voice that particular view though, you are considered an Obama apologist or an Obama-Bot. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen pro-Obama supporters get hounded by the anti-Obama folks on LGBT blogs.

Another example just happened right here on Bilerico Project when Bil wrote about Joe Solmonese leaving the HRC. The overall opinion seemed to be that Joe and the HRC were green-faced villains. Those who opposed that notion were one of the following: an HRC spy, anti-trans or a self-hating rogue. The reactions were proof that a different opinion is not always welcomed in an environment that should be open to a wide array of viewpoints.

I don't know how we moved into this mindset, but it needs to stop. We need to weigh all sides of the situation in order to create the best solution. It's okay to have different views on issues and it's okay to challenge others. But the minute we suppress others from expressing their opinions, we become our own worst enemy. We are better than that; and it's high time we start acting like a motivating force rather than a group of bitter barkers.


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I think the biggest problem Viktor's indirectly referring to is the Bilerico comments section and the self-appointed thought police who seem to have taken over. Anyone who says anything not specifically hewing to far left dogma gets shredded.

It's a big reason why the number of comments have dropped so low on the site and the number one complaint we hear about the blog. It's stopped being a place for conversation as much as a spot for castigation.

It's mind numbing. Hell, even other Ed Team members and I barely comment any more. There's no use. The first comment on any post is usually a negative nitpick. It drives off readers, contributors, and other commenters.

The venom I often see in the Bilerico (as well as some other LGBT sites) comments has not only greatly reduced my willingness to comment on a post of interest, it has cut down on the frequency with which I visit the site. Bilerico is a great community resource, but I only have the fortitude to visit it once or twice a week, rather than everyday like I used to. I know I could ignore the comments, but I always end up reading them, and the tone of the dialog too often leaves me feeling like the LGBT demographic vents our worst bile on each other.

It's frustrating, because I feel like there used to be some great conversations which substantively added to the content of Bilerico essays. Mixed in with the nastiness, there still are sometimes.

I wish you'd join in the comments section more often Wintersong. Your comments are always interesting and thought provoking. You're exactly the type of audience and participant we'd like to encourage instead of drive off.

I'd say, Bil, that the thought policing isn't exactly about a far-left dogma as much as it is anti-institutional dogma. People who have nice stuff to say about Obama, about progressive religious groups, about HRC get targeted because we're supposed think that Obama is our enemy, Christians are our enemy, and HRC is our enemy. This view accomplishes nothing but it is well-represented in the blogosphere.

Thanks to Viktor for this good post!

Good point, Kevin. "Far left dogma" isn't quite the appropriate turn of phrase. It's more about hewing from the group think or the super-politically correct identity mafia who show up to stir shit without actually trying to start a conversation about their thoughts on the matter. I don't mind people expressing themselves, but attacking an author in the name of feminism, trans rights, circumcision - you name it - is ridiculous.

Anyone who dissents or has a different viewpoint from a few folks who've seemingly taken over the comments section is quickly dismembered.

Yes, it is the case that often the first comment isn't overly productive, and drives away readers and commenters.

Like the first comment in this thread.

It starts at the top.

Bil, I agree. I have seen this on Bilerico, but not generally in the gay community overall. I've been particularly disturbed by an apparent bigotry against Christians among Bilerico commenters, but I have also seen other examples of intolerance for different opinions.

I agree Viktor. We should be tolerant of other people thoughts. By all means express your beliefs and try to tell people why you believe such things but respect others and their thoughts.

In my opinion it's usually the coming together of all sides that leads to the best solutions that help the whole. If we fight ourselves we divide ourselves.

There's a huge, huge difference between disagreeing about tactics, and calling out another person or organization for actively supporting bigotry. In the case of HRC, it was crystal clear that every single person "defending" the organization was either honestly ignorant of or willfully erasing the organization's consistent and repeated history of working against trans rights.

This is so absolutely true. HRC's terrible history on trans rights is well documented from long before this Century started. To express your dislike for this organization because of this history can get you verbally "castrated" here on Bilerico. It's interesting how it appears that it can become a one-way street on opinions here, and the effort to factor in a person's long history when you read their remarks means nothing. Younger LGBT people believe this history with HRC is all a figment of our imagination. How many times does a person have to experience discrimination by HRC before their opinion is validated?

Monica, please list these issues, because many of us do not see multiple accounts of 'bus tossing'. I need to see more information on the issues you talk about.

As I understand this, you want me to do your research for you? Google it and it will keep you busy for weeks. And, if you don't wish to do that, then I'm not going to waste the valuable time in my life to prove to you we aren't liars.

Or you could stop pulling a FOX and back up your argument with these things called "facts." When you only throw out generalities and half of them aren't true, your credibility is called into question and facts are usually requested.

I don't have to do you or Viktor's work just to make YOU happy. If he can't find it himself, then too bad. My credibility doesn't hang on your say so or what you think of me.

You got a lot of "you-know-what's" to talk about credibility. You brag about being trans supportive but the first time HRC or Joe gets harassed here, you're on them like nobody's business. We get to see your true colors, just what Ethan and Marty had found out.

I'm not asking you to do the research for me. But I will say this, when I make points, I back it up with info or links. Also, I'm not calling you a liar; but if you can't back up your points, it doesn't look good on your part. So please, don't just say stuff and then get upset when someone ask you to elaborate.

Let's be clear here. You are one of the people mentioned in Viktor's post for the off-the-rails personal accusations with no basis in reality like Viktor is "an HRC spy." You are one of the most complained about commenters for the nonsensical accusations (see: people get verbally castrated for being anti-HRC on a blog known as not being that positive to the group) that spout from your keyboard constantly.

But I have to agree about the "one-way street on opinions here." That's why he wrote the post. But you're part of the problem (see: "HRC spy") and refuse to be part of the solution no matter how many Ed Team members or your friends or other contributors have talked with you about it. We've turned off your account for probationary periods more than once. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be that sad to see you go anymore. I'm tired of the venom and senseless accusations. Hell, on the Solmonese post you even tried to say I refused to publish your guest posts because I love HRC instead of just acknowledging that the feedback you've had is that you submit too much stuff constantly to different editors and that the posts aren't up to our standards. It's just become ridiculous.

Seems I struck a note with you. Good. I never called Viktor an HRC spy, so where did that come from? You have only turned off my account once. And, what does my submissions have to do with this latest comments? It was on the previous one and not on this one. Are you trying to provoke me for some reason? I thought trans people were good with trigonometry, but you have tangents down to a science.

Thanks for making my point for me.

From the post Viktor references. It's after you attack him for being "rude" for saying he thought HRC wasn't as bad as everyone else in the thread. You reply:

MonicaHelms | August 29, 2011 1:24 PM

Yes you are being rude, and intentionally ignoring the facts. I was one of those 1000 trans people at Southern Comfort in 2007 who heard Joe tell us they would only support a fully inclusive ENDA. Two weeks later, he threw us under the bus so he could be considered a nice guy to Barney. Are you ignoring two decades of facts for any particular reason. Are you an HRC paid spy? I know what I'm talking, but you apparently don't.

The point about your previous comments is because you have a history here. This is an ongoing problem and you've been a large part of it over the years. And once again you just deny the behavior and turn your comment instead to an attack on the blog instead of taking a look in the mirror and realizing you're one of the main culprits being talked about. It may escape you but it's blindingly obvious to most everyone else.

Okay, I did call him an HRC spy. I'm cool with that.

Really? Are you aware how ridiculous you sound? I know this may be mean, but good grief!

You're right. But, this whole string is ridiculous. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't make this crap up. I think I'll sit through all of the SAW movies this weekend to calm me down.

I rest my case. Ridiculous. Part of the problem.

Ya know what I perceive in those who berate others for having contrary opinions in an overtly hostile, negative way as being very weak, fearful. In my view we learn the very most from others who may have contrary opinions, thoughts, ideas. If we are to grow as individuals, if we are to affect change in the world, do we not benefit from disparate thoughts, ideas? To paraphrase Henry Ford "How can we grow, improve, if we all agree, all the time?" We must encourage rational, independent thoughts and ideas, not merely tolerate such.

Allow me to use myself as an example. I am a very open transsexual woman. I am a good, caring, loving person. I am a community volunteer working with groups within and without the LGBT community. I hesitate not to express my thoughts and ideas about whatever business is at hand. It is clear to me that other members on these boards, committee, organizations do not merely tolerate either myself or my thoughts, opinions, but rather solicit them. We engage in constructive dialog. We debate. We are all of equal voice. The fact that I am trans, a woman of 65 years is irrelevant. Is this not what we in the LGBT community want from the community at large, to be valued as good, intelligent people, equals?

But let's be truthful that those on the other side have been just as bad. I have been called delusional or worse because I have had the audacity to challenge President Obama's record on GLBT issues. One poster on another blog accused me of being childish. It's funny Bil but you do the thing you accuse others of doing in your post above pointing fingers at those on the far left for incivility while not acknowleging it on the other side.

True enough. I responded above to say "far left dogma" wasn't a good word choice. See above, Tim. :)

I think tbe venom is not just on Bilerico though.
The interweb allows people to vent in a manner that they would not in real life.
Personally even if I strongly disagree with an opinion (for example I strongly disagree with the notion that Obama has been anything other than a dishonest opportunist and a bitter disappointment to the LGBT community) then I try not to engage in personal insults.

I

Good point, Steve. It's not just Bilerico - and several site's comments section are much more toxic with personal insults and putdowns. I think my biggest complaint is that we started as a place for dialogue and the comments section were a large part of that. Now few people comment versus how much traffic we get - and most cite the critical-no-matter-what comments (especially contributors!).

I also find it interesting we are talking about civility and not treating others as the enemy when example 1 was the comments sections of a piece that was basically a hit job on Pam Spaulding because someone didn't like the timing of when she released a story. It then pushed to knock down more by saying everyone knew and it wasn't a secret.

Are you saying the post wasn't civil or the comments? Because a post that is critical and disagrees with the timing and way a news story is handled is not the same as attacking someone and calling them names. As I recall, Bil didn't call anyone any names, he just said it was kinda shitty the way the story came out and the timing was really bad.

By your logic, your own comment is uncivil.

There is a difference between criticism and incivility. People need to learn the distinction.

I don't know that I'd call it a "hit piece" to report on what the talk is around town, Tim. That wasn't my intent. But since there were several factual inaccuracies that hadn't been corrected on her original post and staffers here were pissed it seemed appropriate to report on that.

Thank you Viktor. Thank you Bil. This article is right on the money.

Bullying and personal attacks in the comments section are childish, fruitless, destroy any meaningful exchange of ideas and discourage new readers. They hurt the website by damaging its credibility.

We have far too many enemies out there already. We don't need to help their cause any more by spewing venom at each other.

LGBTs are as diverse in their lifestyles, beliefs and politics as any other demographic. The sooner we all realize this, the sooner we can respectfully agree to disagree.

I like hearing differing opinions and viewpoints, because I learn from them. And I've learned a lot from reading Bilerico.

True, Viktor, but I also can't tell you the number of times that I have seen criticisms of President Obama's handling of issues be simply dismissed as racism as well (I'm not saying you, specifically, of course...).

That's a form of bullying as well (with the exception of the times content of the racism actually is racist).

I've said it before and I'll say it again; no blog is as reflective of the diversity of the LGBT community as Bilerico. I love reading many different opinions and reading and hearing the back and forth conversation and I am tolerant of different perspectives (even conservative perspectives; and there are some issues where I actually do have an opinion which could be considered "conservative"). But the personal attacks are a turnoff.

I forgotten I have gotten the racist label or that I was really a Republican trolling the gay blogs.

"content of the racism" s/b "content of the criticism"

I may comment further later, but for now I will just say that I have learned to never be surprised at the way in which groups of humans can develop "hive mind" viewpoints that don't tolerate evidence or arguments to the contrary. I have long seen this in LGBT circles, and I see it out in the major world with (some) churches, community groups, and state and national politics. Seeing the truth in both (or multiple) sides of an issue requires a type of mufti-dimensional thinking, and some people don't have that mental capability -- and with some, it is a mental capacity that comes with age.

I try my best to argue about ideas, not about people. There are rare exceptions, which are usually public figures. For example, I said Rick Santorum was an idiot, and that Andrew Sullivan had his head up his rump when he said, "AIDS is over." I have made many sarcastic remarks about Joe Solmonese. I think we expect public figures to have a tough enough skin to take such insults. I can't recall the last time I insulted a fellow commenter in a similar, direct manner.

Another thing we need to stop doing is making excuses for people and organizations which don't measure up and continually fail to keep their promises. HRC gets the reaction it does from many in our community because it spent years, decades in fact, earning the reputation it has. Same with Obama. Sure everyone should be tolerant of opposing views, but that doesn't mean being silent when others try to tell us things that just aren't true, things that are backed up neither by fact or lived reality. Personally, when I smell bullshit, I'll continue to call it out.

It's not a matter of opinion if HRC or Obama have failed to keep their promises to our community. They have, it's fact. They made promises which can be cited (ENDA, etc.) and then didn't deliver. That's not a matter of opinion, it's the truth, and no amount of excuse-making or political weasel-talk is going to change that.

As we've been taught so often by these people, the easiest way to ensure that those promises will never be realized is to keep quiet, and the best way to ensure that our issues do get attention is to keep their feet to the fire, loudly, proudly, and not to let up for a second.

I will continue to speak out, both about what's true and about what's right. If someone thinks that's a matter of opinion, or that we'd somehow be better off remaining silent and compliant, that's their problem, not mine.

"don't measure up" according to whom?

According to what standard?

The Bilerico Project? Washington insiders? The NAACP?

I'm sure that some immigration rights organizations would love to have what HRC's track record appears to be with this Administration.

I think most of what you've said I can agree with, Becky. And when you argue your case (even forcefully) you don't resort to personal attacks or dubious assertions like someone is an HRC spy. You keep it above board and stick to the facts. That's always welcome. Opinions are encouraged. Assholes aren't.

Even at it's worst some of the comments here, were way better then at Queerty.

While I may not have always agreed with her, I do miss the perspective of Yasmin Nair comments.

Have you noticed she doesn't post much anymore either? Or that a lot of the usual contributors have simply walked away thanks to the constant nitpicking and personal attacks? These folks volunteer their time to provide entertainment and information for our readers only to get slammed for some imaginary slight most of the time.

We need folks like Yasmin if we're going to examine ideas thoroughly and thoughtfully and step outside of the hive mind that AJ references above.

On her last article, I made a nasty remark about Yasmin, which I regret. I apologize. The girl is thoughtful and kind hearted.
Viktor and Bil, your points are well taken. I've sometimes indulged a mean tone, and I'm fixin' to change it.

I don't know how we moved into this mindset

"You're either with us or against us."

That statement by George W. Bush seems to have dictated political and even cultural arguments ever since it was stated.

It was interesting to see how quickly Pam was made the villain in the Joe story, here on Bilerico. What did people think? That the story just fell out of the sky and right into her computer? Someone IN HRC would have had to tell her this. Ya think? Apparently, not. The sport of shooting the messenger is alive and well here on Bilerico.

The excuse that the timing was shitty is an excuse to hide the fact that she scooped Bilerico by two full days. It just means that her inside people at HRC is better than Bilerico's inside people. And, if you were to ask real journalists, they would tell you that if you get a story, you don't ask the people whom the story is about when would a good time to post it. You just go with it. It's not rocket science.

HRC people blaming Pam is indicative of HRC's basic problem. When they screw up, they NEVER apologize, and turn to blaming others for their mistake. Joe never apologized to lying to trans people at the 2007 Southern Comfort. (For those who are too lazy to look it up, here's a link to what he said: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_GhTiBO8Cw) There are several links on YouTube. So when the HRC people heard about the story, they were pissed at Pam, when they should look inward.

And, Bil jumped on the "blame Pam" bandwagon because of the long-time feud they have. It goes both ways. The Hatfields and McCoys have nothing on these two. (That is an analogy, in case anyone missed that.) Bil has used his bully pulpit here to bash Pam on several occasions. The idea that someone inside HRC gave her the story at a "shitty" time didn't seem to cross anyone's minds. His wanting to have a calmer blog gets thrown out the window when he gets a chance to give Pam a hard time. Anyone on his "shit list" gets raked over the coals, forever, and I've been on it for years.

Here's something to read, Viktor. http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-transgender-community-hates-hrc.html
And here's one posted on Bilerico: http://www.bilerico.com/2009/02/hrc_throws_trans_health_equity_under_the.php Happy, now, Bil?
And another one: http://boycotthrc.wordpress.com/
And this: http://www.queerty.com/hudson-takes-on-hrc-trans-stance-20070928/
Here: http://www.towleroad.com/2008/02/hrc-defends-pos.html
And this is related: http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2516

And these were found on the first two pages of Google when you plug in "HRC, transgender." When do I get my pay check for being your researcher, Viktor?

Though I think Monica can be harsh she hit the nail on the head here. Should reporters ask politicians when is a good time to break a story about them. When I read the story here it sounded more like a petty fight than a real story. I wasn't even aware of the bad blood between the two. When you make statements like everyone knew it just comes off as petty. If it wasn't a secret then what did it hurt to report it. If you just wanted to point out the inaccuracies I could see it. But the addition of the everyone knew plus the oh no the staff didn't know pushed it to a different level.

I'm not even going to bother responding to any of your childish conspiracy theories about some feud, Monica; next I'll be spy for something.

I will say this though: If you ask a "real journalist" how to put out a story like that, you make sure you have more than one anonymous source before rushing to publication to claim a scoop. And if you screw up the facts, you apologize to your readers for misleading them and issue a correction. The only thing correct about that story was that Joe would be leaving. He didn't get fired. His replacement hadn't already been named. He wasn't leaving immediately.

Right now I don't have a comment on the rightness or wrongness of anyone's views on Obama or the HRC. This is meant very generally:

I think there's always been a tendency toward internecine vicious in LGBT communities. Though with each new generation less scarred and damaged than the previous one, the GENERAL tendency toward intra-community viciousness may be lessening.

However, communication within the U.S. has been becoming more rabid and aggressive, probably for the last 30 years. Seeing folks we don't agree with as "evil" seems to come even more easily to a people (U.S.ians) who've always been able to fall into that readily.

LGBT communities have over the past few decades become more involved with politics on our issues, and I think more unified in our politics. Some of this is due to lower costs for being involved in pro-LGBT activism, and some is the growing strength and experience of our activist community and institutions.

Part of it, though, has also been due to the ever greater organization of those who are our enemies. We have had to become more aware and more committed to counter them. A big change was the conscious orientation of the Republican Party against us, a trend perhaps coalescing around the 1992 Republican Convention.

Our relative political unity reaches toward concensus on some issues. On those issue is where the nastiness toward those with minority opinions is worst.

Those who call for greater political civility within LGBT communities can test the consistency of their resolve by considering whether we should ALSO be civil toward LGBT Republican conservatives. If you think it's perfectly fine to make an exception in civil treatment for LGBT people who have politics like those of GOProud, you aren't all that serious about trying to dial down the hostility.

For the record, I loathe the politics of GOProud and Republican conservatism generally, while I can respect individuals who hew to conservative principles and think for themselves. For what it's worth, I'm probably to the left of most LGBT people who hate people with GOProud-like politics, and I'm far to the left of GOProud.

I think we, the majority of LGBT people who are to the left of GOProud, benefit when we treat its sympathizers with civility. We don't need to make them feel any more bitter, alienated and angry at the rest of us than they already are.

In the second paragraph above, "internecine vicious" is supposed to read "internecine viciousness".

I have noticed that often the default situation in Internet communities is to personally attack the messenger and ignore the message.
If Bilerico doesn't want that situation, its staff should give the example of better comments instead of retreat from commenting.

Good point, Lu. It gets tiresome dealing with some of the folks, but leading by example is always best.

I've seen the opposite, completely unjustified attacks by Obama supporters. I expect to see more of them as we get closer to the election and this time around I hope that they're criticized. I'm not in favor of banning people or cutting remarks but I do see the point of criticizing personal attacks, if the policy is applied across the board.

I've seen people run off for opposing Obama, especially before the election. Serena Freewomyn was called vile sexist names by a veritable lynch mob of Obama crowd and nothing was said or done about it that we know of. Monica Roberts, in spite of the fact that I'm an avowed socialist claimed that that I was an RNC troll on several occasions and again, nothing was done about it. Before the election one Obama critic was told that his comments ''were mighty white' of him, a totally unjustified accusation of racism.

My opinion is that Obama supporters, given his abysmal record of betrayal, his open contempt for us and his clear bigotry, should expect at a minimum to have their ideas criticized. Personal attacks like the ones I described above don't inform the conversation much but criticism of ideas, including asking Obama supporters how they can justify support for support Obama's wars, his union busting and the fact that he's to the right of Nixon do clarify the discussion. If you're asked why you're supporting the lesser of two Republicans, you have to be able to explain that without taking it personally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XypVcv77WBU

You know, I don't always agree with you, Bill, but I've always respected your ability to argue your points without resorting to childish name-calling or insinuating bad intent on the author's part. You've been a regular reader since we opened the doors and I've always valued your opinions. I've learned a lot from your comments.

Thanks.

What I learned from you is that political criticism is far, far more devastating than personal criticism.

It is. I have to think about political disagreements. If you just start insinuating bad intentions or resort to name-calling, I'm going to tune you out. I think we've had some fine roaring arguments and debates on the site, but there's never been hard feelings has there?

I'm a socialist and a revolutionist and my politcs are very different in all respects from those of liberals and centrists, and to tell you the truth I suspect I piss off a lot more people than I get angry at.

And no, no hard feelings.

Perhaps it may be that I don't have enough issues, or serious enough issues compared to those affecting some other people, and I don't read every article on Bilerico, let alone every comment, but it seems to me that the issue of lack of civility and questioning people's motives seems painfully common on sites whose readers are trying to make the world a better, not a badder, place.

Obviously people and organizations should be called out when they fail to perform and when they renege on commitments that they are perfectly capable of honoring. But there really aren't too many people that I know of in the GLBT community who are deserving of persistent ad hominem/ad feminam attacks. Some may be deluded or seriously misguided, but let's face it; there are far more character flaws in the organizations and individuals who want to see us dead, or at least disappeared. And we should save our venom and animus towards working against the people who are actively hostile to us.

I'm telling you :

Transsexuals on this site and others have become VERY nasty, and mean. It wasn't like this several years ago.

Apparently they think it helps their cause or helps them gain admiration from fellow transsexuals. But it has its limits and I don't see it as persuasive or enhancing the public image of transsexuals. But then I don't share the same agenda or ideology of most transsexuals. I may not be perfect but I'm not mean.

I whole heartedly agree. Not just the transexuals though - a lot of the transgender women have also joined the brigade of soldiers intent on pursuing a scorched earth strategy that's turning off quite a few allies.

You, however, are always welcome because of your thoughtful comments. You're right. You're not mean; that's something a lot of folks could emulate.

Really Bil? What "scorched earth strategy" do you mean? How many times since 2007 do I need to hear from a cis gay man or lesbian that "trans* people don't belong in the LGB"? How often do I need to be called homophobic by a gay man simply because I transitioned? How many times do I need to see play out in my own daily life cis straight men "getting it" more easily and more profoundly than cis gay men?

Couple these with some easy national and state-level events that show institutional disregard for trans people by LGB orgs. Can you honestly say that as a community the LGB hasn't actively earned the level of distrust and guarded alliance we now have?

I'd say that 2002 ESPA SONDA was the "scorched earth" moment that resonated and set bargaining away trans issues as a valid winning strategy.

I'm just talking about the transsexual vs transgender debate that seems to be raging in the past year or so. There's so much vitriol over small differences that it's keeping folks from joining in the discussion for fear they'll just get flamed.

Bil, the entire transsexual v. transgender arguments have been pretty much precipitated by about 3 people. Those people have been identified on other threads yet, except in one case, you've (you and your board) chosen to allow them to continue derailing threads. That was your choice (and your editorial board) entirely... so don't blame it on the other trans people who post here.

If you have a real problem with many of the trans people who post here (perhaps myself included?) then please don't be coy about it because your behavior is coming off as rather immature and passive aggressive. If you're not appreciating what certain commenters are bringing to Bilerico, then be out with it, publicly clarify the reasons why (in other words, don't ban someone in secret) and block them. For myself, if I see a thread with which I strongly disagree, or has a twisted or uninformed perspective on trans issues, I will continue speaking up. From my perspective, if someone posting here about Joe Solmonese and the HRC has little or no knowledge about his negative history with the trans community, then either they shouldn't be posting or they should expect to be called both on their inaccuracy and their insularity for not even bothering to research their topic before they write about it. Honestly ask yourself would you respect a straight man writing about Stonewall if he hadn't bothered to read much about it?

I think I've been pretty clear about one of the main culprits that I see. As for you, personally, you challenge people and state your opinion. Have you ever been TOSsed even? I don't remember it if you have. I usually find your comments stimulating even if I don't always agree with you 100%. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing - it's just the constant negativity that's driving away folks.

I completely agree Bil. As someone who has been a steadfast supporter of trans-equality, I was getting to the point of, if people can't even agree on what to call themselves, how do you create good policy?

Luckily I have some trans friends in real life who put it in perspective. They said, ignore them, mainly they are folks who couldn't organize themselves out of a paper bag. They would rather have fights about little things online than do the hard work of pounding the pavement. That was very helpful.

Just like the comments here do no reflect the diversity of the lesbian, gay, or bi community. They don't reflect the whole trans community.

Many of the debates here remind me of the old adage that goes something like- "never have the stakes been so high on issues that matter so little."

"How many times since 2007 do I need to hear from a cis gay man or lesbian that 'trans people don't belong in the LGB'?"

This is not a simple issue, LRTgirl -- I have been one to say that trans issues do not need to be included in every LGB(T?) forum, simply because for some audiences, educating and overcoming bigotry regarding same-sex coupling issues is daunting enough.

The most recent example is the workshop at the 2011 NAACP convention. Here the arrangers were hoping to make some headway at addressing the vision that civil rights are for everyone, including LGB and T people (Julian Bond's remarks were particularly clear about this), and the whole event has been tainted by trashings of Don Lemon and the other arrangers because there was no T-territory in the terrain being covered. The controversy burned the arrangers of the event to the point that I am concerned about whether the event will be re-attempted in future NAACP conventions. If it isn't, this is unfortunate indeed because such presentations are sorely needed, and in the organized Black movement particularly.

Although we are both sexual minorities in some broad sense, homosexuality is about sexual attraction/orientation, and transexuality is about gender identity/orientation. In a world that is still in the middle ages regarding sexuality (culturally speaking, not medically so), where many Joe's-on-the-street can't tell you the difference between the words "sex" and "gender", insisting that "LGBT" is a monolithic concept confuses as much (and as many) as it clarifies.

I do think that, because of our sexual minority status, our "queer-ness", that LGB and T are natural political allies. But the insistence that every LGB discussion invariably must include T issues is as unworkable as the converse. Some discussions needs to be LGB-exclusive, and some discussions need to be T-exclusive.

P.S. The "transgender vs. transexual" issue is a particular tempest in a teapot. Some trans people decide to transition, and some don't. I support the choice of either. If this friction involves any more than that, then I don't get it.

A.J. I can respect your comment here. I just want to point out something that I see often gay/lesbian people saying something close to:

"This is not a simple issue, LRTgirl -- I have been one to say that trans issues do not need to be included in every LGB(T?) forum, simply because for some audiences, educating and overcoming bigotry regarding same-sex coupling issues is daunting enough."

Making it seem that trans issues are so much more mysterious and confounding to the average person than same-sex attraction and that discussing these take away from the (more important?) issues around sexuality. Personal experience, as well as historical events and laws, seem to paint a much different picture.

People "got" transsexuality enough to start passing laws to recognize transition well before the modern gay rights movement started. I have the luxury of choosing who knows my trans status and when they know. So, I can have discussions with regular old folks all the time who view me as "just" a straight gal... when I bring up any trans topic, people just "get it" - some guys are really girls. While they miss some nuance, they get that it happens some times. Straight guys, even liberal supportive ones, are still really squicked by two guys being intimate.

So, while I am less and less a fan of "LGBT", it has little to do with trans issues taking away from LGB discussions. If anything, the level of dominance that the LGB have in the media at the intentional and explicit expense of trans people and issues would point to the fact that the LGB, if not continually reminded that trans people exist, will ignore and sideline trans issues.

Bil,

I enjoyed your thoughtfulness on the blog until scroll down and see phrases like "pulling a FOX". FYI 30% of GLBT persons voted Republican in 2010 and many libertarians, independents and right wing gays also completely give up on discourse or participation because of the vitriol and phrasing like you're using. Are there any right or libertarian leaning writers on this site? I quit commenting and even visiting places like this and Towleroad for that reason. If GLBT leaders and left wingers in the movement are so confident of their beliefs, why must it always be name calling instead of discussion? After being called personally or seeing people I have personal respect or admiration for being called crazy, bigoted, stupid, nutjob, racist, or ugly for the 50th time without real responses to argument, you just give up and don't waste your time.

Perhaps you should consider finding more diversity in your voices on the blog, especially where politics is concerned. If nothing else it'd spur discussion to have a thoughtful right wing gay on here, and would truly test this poster's premise of whether people can converse without bomb throwing and hateful language. Also seeing the same self-appointed gay rights leaders have another forum for the same voices and ideas grows stale when it's always the same arguments and reactions to every news story.

Best of luck! :)

FYI 30% of GLBT persons voted Republican in 2010 and many libertarians, independents and right wing gays also completely give up on discourse or participation because of the vitriol and phrasing like you're using.

If you want a conservative or libertarian slant then go read GayPatriot.

(FTR, I do read the posts at GayPatriot about once a week and I've had occasion to comment there).

I know that my statement sounded like snark but it is...part of the problem here?...

Like other media, blogs have come to have self-selected niche audiences that do result in a sort of an echo chamber affect. You say that 30% of LGB's voted for the Republican side in the 2010 elections but that still means that 70% of LGB's voted for the Democrats and would seem to be "left leaning."

Some people here at Bilerico would argue that since it seems that 1)same-sex marriage is one of the primary issues that is discussed and that 2) marriage is a conservative institution in and of itself then many of the discussions here do have a veneer of conservatism simply because of the marriage issue (and the same would have applied to discussion of DADT...it being a military issue).

And there are some commenters here who do have views on issues that could fall under the heading of "conservative" (Rev. Emily Heath's posts on evangelical religion, for example).

Again, it's a lot of it has more to do with perception.

I'm not looking for news in a conservative slant. I'm looking for gay people to have real discussions about issues without name calling. That's the whole point of the post, I thought. Telling me to go read news somewhere else really doesn't help anything. People only finding news that reinforces their own viewpoints and never being exposed or honestly considering that people can be educated, nice, polite and have discussions and disagreements that don't escalate into fights is the problem.
I don't consider "Chrstian" and conservative or "Christian" and libertarian the same.
Part of the reason the GLBT movement has faced so many failures is that the bourgeoisie self-appointed leaders of the gay rights movements have embedded themselves so far into left wing issues that all the baggage of the left on things like immigration, feminism etc can no longer be separated out and people like those who post on this blog can't imagine a gay person thinking differently from them. As gay people who demand the rest of the world put themselves in our shoes and treat us as equals, we sure don't seem to bring the same respect we expect from others when they deign to disagree with us in any way.
Kudos to the original poster, but getting a cheetah to change its spots isn't a game most are too enthused to try and play.

Timothy, we actually agree on this more than we disagree.

It's not simply LGBT blogs that have become kinda sorta niche audiences and echo chambers; quite a bit of media has become like that in the past 20 or so years.

There's a niche for darn near everything. You seem to be suggesting that Bilerico should be all things for all people (or as many things for as many different people) LGBT and that's a nice ideal but...I think that the marketplace dictates that that may not be necessary.

For example, as I said, "marriage" is an issue for traditionalists and conservatives, traditionally even if the idea of same-sex marriages seems radical to some.

Sometimes, the different and maybe clashing POVs is already there but you can't see them because of your lenses.

Religion; pretty much any religion...that's an argument for respect of tradition in many different ways. That's a "conservative issue" in and of itself when taken from a certain perspective. Like the "marriage" issue (or Joe solomnese's stewardship of HRC, for that matter) that's in the eye of the beholder as well.

Timothy, just out of curiosity, exactly where did you get this 30% stat and what is the basic methodology of the arriving at that percentage? Only speaking for the trans community, many of us aren't even out, much less identifying ourselves on polls as trans and I would imagine there are many gay/lesbian/bi people who wouldn't ID their sexual orientation in this situation either. Moreover, where the poll/study was taken could have a profound impact on its findings. Just saying, I don't buy it... because from the queer/trans people I've known, it's more like 10% if even that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/05/gay-voters-republicans-doubled-2008_n_779111.html

Perhaps the fact that you can barely put the percentage in your own life at 10% should make you question whether you really accept people of differing viewpoints in your life.

Ginasf,
I've seen the roughly 30% figure in the mainstream media a number of times, for the 2008 presidential election and a few congressional and presidential elections before it. The figure very slowly was trending upward and I think the figure for 2008 was 31%. (I don't know the figure for the 2010 election.)

I'm further left than most LGBT people, and even I can see how hateful many people in the left of center majority of LGBT people are toward LGBT people they discover to be Republican or conservative. I can easily believe that a great many LGBT people are in the closet in regard to their general politics.

I'm old enough to remember it wasn't always like this. I'd say in the '80s and before, LGBT Republicans weren't necessarily respected highly, but they were still accepted in the community. That isn't the case now.

I'm bisexual, and have discovered anecdotally that a lot of L and G people are bisexual to some degree, often to a significant one. Yet, bisexual people within the L and G communities mostly aren't evident. Based on that, I can easily believe that conservatives in the L and G communities are mostly not out about that. Who needs the grief from "our gay brothers and sisters"? (I don't know how things are in that regard among transgender or transsexual people.)

Actually, I'm not sure the voting figure is for LGBT people. It may only be for gay and lesbian people.

There are different kinds of conservatives and Republicans. There are the more moderate, and as far as many left of center LGBTs are concerned, the saner Republicans in the Log Cabin club. Then there are the hardcore Fox News-doting people of the GOProud variety. You can't assume that every person comprising the 31% of LGBT or L&G people voting Republican in 2008 are hardcore GOProud types. Many probably held their noses and voted for Republican candidates as the lesser of two evils.

"I've seen the roughly 30% figure in the mainstream media a number of times, for the 2008 presidential election and a few congressional and presidential elections before it."

Thanks for the 'specifics.' If it's in the mainstream media therefore it must be true... mainstream media is so knowledgeable about LGBTQ communities. *sarcasm over*

ginasf, Timothy isn't wrong about the 30% figure if it were only applied to the 2010 midterms but prior to the 2010 midterms he's wrong...but not much.

I would say that roughly 20-25% of LGB's (I'm unsure about the T) vote Republican pretty much every Presidential election; from what I've read, George W. Bush got 25% of the LGBT vote in the 2000 election.

Thanks for clarifying that.. and yeah... I agree. While it is obviously an important discussion for trans folks to have, we don't need to keep having it in places where it is clearly a derail.

Is it ok to disagree? Absolutely.

Is it ok to to voice one's disagreement. Yes.

Is it ok to disagree and expect that others will be silent? Not so much.

So very much of the LGBT community here is dealing with issues that are deeply and intensely personalized. Passion quickly washes away speed of thought, and a sense that one is "safe" here is often cover for shifting the attacks from one of ideas to one of persons.

Viktor asked for a history of the way that trans people are treated by the HRC. Instead of getting that, he was challenged on the basis of his own ignorance, when the now four year old surge of trans voices into the blogosphere is heavily based on that very idea, and the notions have been discussed over and over again.

And yet, rather than explaining that, it was simply left on him.

Here is a surprise to many. Cis folk do not always follow the events and trials and tribulations of trans folk. Straight folk do not follow the trials and tribulations of gay, lesbian, or bisexual folks. Gay men don't always pay attention to lesbian stuff, lesbians don't always pay attention to gay men stuff, and no one really gives a damn about bisexuals.

What all of them do pay attention to is what happens to all of us, regardless of the other lines that cross. HRC is generally pretty darn good for most cis folks who happen to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It is, in fact, unreasonable to expect them to really pay attention to what the hell the HRC does to trans people.

That isn't because of the GLB angle, either. The question of sexual orientation really has nothing to do with it. It is about cis people not really understanding or caring enough to understand or being caught up in the stereotypes and limited experience of transness they have.

It is, in simpler but apparently more difficult to understand terms, the result of a ciscentric society.

Viktor's experience, to use him not as a target but as an illustrative example, is a ciscentric one. It is unreasonable to ask him to step out of such a world since he has no way to understand how to.

The same applies, however, and with equal fervor, to the wider population of generally negative folks who spend their days saying things like gays live 20 years shorter because their lifestyle is a really nasty, filthy, disgusting thing.

It is unreasonable to expect them to understand or care or put effort into grasping things.

Here's the problem: after centuries of marginalization and decades of demonization, all the LGBT collective has is a fight to make something unreasonable -- equality and equity under the law and in society at large -- become reasonable.

To be seen, to be heard, to be known and often just to be.

And here we are, in a nation (and other nations) where the general state of affairs is not great but a damn sight better than most people in this world have. And that includes most of the LGBT people in the world.

And almost always, the disagreements come about because we have different elements not really understanding each other and finding themselves desperately trying to make something that is unreasonable become reasonable, and as a result of that desperation trying to make it happen no matter what the price, no matter what the cost.

To Viktor, in 2007, Joe stood before what was the largest gathering t-of trans folk at the time and promised the HRC would only support an inclusive bill.

Less than 6 weeks later, HRC was only supporting an exclusive bill. And they penalized the people who voted against that. Now, I can go through the archives here and pull up those stories for you. Truly, I can. It'll take a couple days.

Before that, they broght many trans people to DC to lobby for an ENDA they said was going to be inclusive. Monica Roberts was one of those people. And they were betrayed by the HRC, who went to the person who had helped organize such, a trans woman, and said that the Trans stuff had to be taken out or wouldn't get to the floor. They made a deal, and did not consult the other trans people coming out there, or even let them know.

You want evidence regarding that, I refer you to Monica Roberts. First person accounts are always the best.

Also, talk to Donna Rose and Jamison Green. They were part of the HRC for a few years, and they were there, behind the scenes, during the 2007 debacle. They quit in protest over it. Again, first person. Always better information. You might also ask them why they got involved with the HRC -- both did it to try and help build a bridge because of the history of abuse.

Most of the animosity within the trans community, at this time, comes from that 2007 experience, and the way the HRC has handled the anger of the trans community.

That was built up by a previous director, a lesbian woman, who stated that the HRC wasn't going to work for trans stuff.

And the history goes back to the very earliest days of work by the people who started it, when they refused to include trans related language in an effort to pass a state level non discrimination ordinance.

Again, I can give you links to all of it. However, to go to those links, you must remember that you will be dealing with a lot of very angry people. Their toes have been stepped on, metaphorically, and they aren't inclined to be friendly to someone they see as telling them that the people who stepped on their toes were just not that bad.

It was their foot, after all.

But, really, that history doesn't matter. What matters, right now, is that for whatever reason, the trans community sees the HRC as a foe. Some of us, a few, are being skeptical but letting them give it a shot at repairing the damage. And more will do so once Joe, who has, for better or worse, come to represent everything that is wrong with professional organizations that work for equality and equity, steps down.

And trans people have said, in much the same way that gay men have said it, that lesbians have said it, that our Africa American brethren have said, that historically is the way that most of the botom o the pile people have done things over time, is that they are not to be trusted, not to be friends.

And being friends with them means, sadly, that you are not friends with trans people.

Which is stupid, I'll agree. But this isn't a reasonable thought process; this is one of passion, of emotion, of frustration. I mean, for crying out loud, its not like we're looking at politicians and doing the same thing, or businesses and doing the same thing, or our own "heroes" and icons and saying the same thing when they cross a line we don't like.

Can we disagree civilly? In truth, I'm not certain that we -- the greater we, the LGBT -- are capable of such. There is, for all of us, too much at stake, and emotions run high in these waters.

Should we? Absolutely. The disagreements stop any of us from moving forward by inhibiting the impact of allied will and uniformity of approach, which is pretty seriously important in social rights efforts.

But look at how we deal with our opponents. Read some of the titles to online threads out there. Read the comments on posts.

We are, in the grandest tradition, treating everyone equally. Everyone gets treated like crap.

Perhaps, instead, we should start treating everyone like someone, instead.

This HRC screwed us story is getting old, very old. Like four years old. No one at HRC stops you from going to government or corporate officials on your own, or with other state and local groups. But you just keep feeding this fire that trans people need to hate HRC in order to be credible. If someone says "Hey let's move on", they are considered naive and clueless to the cause. New trans people come along and unknowingly get swept into the culture of hating HRC as their acclamation to transgenderism.

Stop acting like we live in a dictatorship and Joe Solmonese has you in a prison. The man is not Muammar Gaddafi.

By the way I was at SCC 2007 that day helping to put on the employment day that included Solomonese talking. I think the man did what many heads of lobbyist organizations do; over promise and overestimate their influence in Congress.

I've also seen you claim he raised money out of that day with some sort of financial exploitation motive, don't think so. It likely cost him more to fly in that day than anything HRC took away.
I was around those tables all day long making sure attendees had what they needed. I did not see many folks signing up for HRC memberships.

The chairman of SCC from that year, NCTE, Donna Rose and others blew the whole thing out of proportion, told everyone to get mad, and ever since the majority view of public trans activism has been to run around acting pissed off, pouty, and obnoxious, meanwhile SCC as a vehicle for positive influence has continued to diminish.

The HRC did such things.

They are, indeed, perceived as such. Yes, many leaders did get extremely angry and they did make sure it got out there.

There's also a great deal of skepticism about how the HRC is going to handle the 2012 CEI.

The key is to be aware of such things, and to watch and see how they handle them. Ten good things to one bad one, and the HRC been doing those good things. Not as fast as many would like, and the good things get dumped on for not being good enough or right enough or whatever.

But they still happen, and it takes time. I've also said that I'm willing to see what they do. I also noted that eventually, they will *have* to focus on Trans issues. Not because of any push from the community or some sudden responsiveness, but because they exist and are most likely going to want to continue to do so.

It is old news. But then, so is world war one and it has reverberations still felt today. So is 9/11 and look around. Things which have significant impact in a community tend to hang around for a quite some time.

Incidentally, I don't act like we live in a dictatorship. On the other hand, to say that the HRC doesn't have significant political sway in comparison to other LGBT organizations would be incorrect. They do.

That gives them greater importance.

I'm not ignorant about this issue. And to be honest, I'm getting tired of the excuses and finger pointing. Bad decisions were made, but are you going to sit there and complain and whine, or are going to do something about it.

Bad decisions were made, but are you going to sit there and complain and whine, or are going to do something about it.

Excellent question, one I've asked myself on several occasions and even addressed in posts here when I was a contributor.

My answer is two fold.

First, I'm not gong to sit here and complain and whine. back when, my first reaction was anger, so I vented a bit (whining, really). Then I thought some, and made a statement that I've stuck by since. I suggested a specific course of action I wanted to see taken and stated a penalty within my power to apply.

One could argue my suggestion was unreasonable (and many have), and it may have well been to other people. To me, it wasn't. It wasn't taken, and I applied the penalty.

So, I did do something about it.

Beyond that, however, I continue to do something about it. As Gina pointed out indirectly, I've made statements regarding the actions of the HRC over the years. Sometimes that stuff is positive, sometimes it is negative. The negative stuff tends to be recalled more readily, but it wasn't whining. It was recalling history and keeping it in mind so that those errors made in the past are not forgotten.

That is also doing something.

I spoke about the HRC in terms of an example of what you were talking about. I provided background information because it was not immediately apparent that you were familiar with some of that, and I was also using the opportunity to give Monica Helms a bit of a nudge in a rather passive aggressive fashion that she once in a great while responds to ;)

I will say one thing very positive came out of the whole thing that ultimately came down to those who joined the United ENDA coalition and those who didn't.

It spurred a great many trans folk who otherwise would not have become involved in the wider community into speaking out more loudly and being involved in more things across the board. In my case, it led to my being a contributor here for a short while. It ultimately led to my commitment to the organization I'm now in charge of -- and I have a great deal of empathy for Joe Solomonese as a result, and I've had additional information presented to me in the interim. It hasn't changed my opinion, mind you, but it has made some things more readily apparent than they were before.

For one, fundraising is hard work, for another, begging sucks as a job.

So I am doing something about it long after the fact -- several somethings, and I do it on a daily basis.

However, note that you and I are, at this moment, engaged in one of the problems that underlie what you were talking about in terms of your post here.

Instead of discussing the nature of the disagreement, we're talking about each other, as people. That's the failure. I probably could have simply ignored the "personal" stuff and dealt with something of greater substance regarding the questions of why we have such a hard time disagreeing with each other, but then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to use the fact that I provided background information and offered to provide evidence of something you asked a different poster about in order to aid in communication (and talk about something without disagreeing, which is often based in one side or the other not having enough information), but, because of the strong emotional resonance that is attached to this subject, suddenly we're talking about mistakes made several years ago and can one of us stop whining about it?

We went from talking about how hard it is to disagree peaceably to one of us whining.

The reason that we have a hard time disagreeing and being what amounts to reasonably civil is illustrated therein wonderfully.

And none of us are innocent of such. Not me, not you -- none of us. We've been hit hard for so long that our first reaction is hit back twice as hard and since we learned to fight dirty early on, we fight dirty.

Oddly enough, put us all in the street and say march for your rights, and we will. And still call each other whiners while we do it.

I really find that "gays live 20 years shorter" crap highly amusing. If that were true then I should have died 6 years ago. No male in my family has lived past 75 in my paternal line, and only 1 lived to his 90's in my maternal line. Since that man rolled his own cigarettes and drank 3 shots of Wild Turkey until he died at the ripe, and still perfectly cognizant age of 94, I will follow my Great-Grampa Charlie's example and continue to smoke, cuss, drink, and "calls-em-as-I-sees-em" until they haul me outta here.

Heh. The reason I used that specific point was that it was recently resurrected by some idiot (I'd normally use my signature f-w term, but it might cross the line here) and that it is as asinine a point as the one I was using as a comparative.

Which, I'll say somewhat more clearly, are the ideas that it is unreasonable to ask that cis folk understand trans stuff and back off their ciscentric thinking, that it is unreasonable to ask LGBT people to wait on being considered equal and attaining social equity, that it is unreasonable to expect straight people to stop being so damned heterosexist and back off that kind of thinking.

I'm actually surprised no one picked up on that in some respects, but not so much in others.

Ah well...

As someone that is new to all this and admittedly is not completely educated about some of these topics, I have a few things to say. Forgive me, if they sound naive or "hokey"

I have my own blog and for a while, I was posting about gay political issues, of course injected with some of my own views. But, I recently stopped posting anything of a political nature or anything good or bad about HRC, GLAAD, etc. Not because I don't have strong opinions, but because of the immediate slew of hateful comments I would receive, most of which I would not even publish because they were so ridiculous.

My main point is that, as a "community", it is shocking to me that we can't be more respectful about each others opinions and viewpoints. It was not so long ago I was looking to find positive messages about the community that I was about to join. What I found was too many places that just told me who to hate, who to not trust, who to not buy from, etc. This was extremely frustrating. There is a difference between educating people about issues and hate, plain and simple.

It makes "us" look like a group of hateful extremists. The exact thing that we fight against.

I still think we should eliminate the comments and try out something along the lines of the Andrew Sullivan model where comments are submitted by email and we have someone sift through them and post excerpts from the ones that present new or interesting perspectives. So that there is a dialogue with the ideas presented but readers don't have to wade through the bullshit.

I've stopped reading comments for the most part. I used to love the conversation. But way too much of it now is just the same 5 people saying the same thing every. single. time.

I also wonder if there's correlation between the new "headline" format and the diminished number of comments. Are page views down? I think I probably read only about 1/4 to 1/2 the number of posts I used to read. With the old format, a paragraph or two was often enough to pique my interest. With so little on the front page, it's easy to just glance at headlines and decide I'm not interested.

Translation - I don't like it when people disagree with me. I want to "filter" them out of the converstion because what I have to say is not bullshit but what they have to say is.

Yes, it takes us back to the bad old days of the dominance of newspapers and magazines, where the editors and publisher decided what viewpoints would and would not be seen. If they didn't like what you were saying, they'd make sure it never saw the light of day on their pages, no matter how many letters to the editor you wrote. If they wanted to keep a particular viewpoint entirely out of their publication, they could, and readers would have no recourse.

Yesterday I strted to make the same suggestion as Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer concerning following the Andrew Sullivan model and eliminating comments. Bilericao continues to have a great roster of top-notch submitters, but unfortunately so many of the comment threads seem to be an increasing morass of non-civility, and often reveal a stunning amount of vicious pettiness that makes me sometimes ashamed to be part of the LGBT community. Try it for a couple of week,s Bil, and then evaluate the results.

I second this.

I think it would be ideal if some posts allowed comments and others didn't. For some posts, the whole point of the post is to ask readers for their comments and to precipitate quality discussion. On others, if Bilerico editors know beforehand that the post is going to invite a cat fight, then turn the comments off.

With all due respect, A.J., this is an amazingly bad idea.

"We know in advance that this post will provoke heavy criticism, so we'll just turn off commenting for it. Why should we be accountable to our readers?" In some ways its even worse than turning off all commenting, because at least that would be consistent and not self-servingly arbitrary.

We in the Wood Party feel very strongly about the present weak drafting of the Local Government Bill, and we intend to fight.

Viktor, excuses? For what? what do use see as an excuse in Toni's post? It appears that you wanted examples from Monica Helms to explain (justify?) her anger for the HRC. Toni took the time to compile that information for you and present it in a way that wasn't an indictment, simply a list of events and responses.

Dismissing this as "excuses and finger pointing", while the height of civil discourse you so desire from trans women, doesn't make it so many trans women will line up to present you with similar information in the future.

Sometimes when a group has a strangle hold on access to government (make no mistake HRC is the goto on all things LGBT to the government) the only thing you can do is point out their "bad decisions" because the problem is so deep and so long that they won't notice it themselves.

But, you know, once again a gay man tells a trans women to "get over it" and another trans woman is there is play nice tranny. What are we doing in the LGB anyway... totally not seeing the benefits?

yeah, the privilege aspects (cis v. trans for the most part, although there are others) are more or less going unsaid in this post.

A lot of the personal vitriol (as opposed to heated and passionate exchanges on the issues, which I love) usually surrounds issues of privilege.

C vs T lies at nearly all the major problems within the acronymic collection of groups.

But whenever I talk about it, I do that bad thing. You know, making visible certain cisprivielges and such. Never a positive expereince there, and I'd rather do it face to face these days than over the internet.

Hell, some folks online think I'm white, make a decent salary, and some even think *I* am cis. Given those extremes and the knoweldge that all points in between are possible, its just not worth my limited resources -- especially when there are others who still have the energy to do so still doing it.

Ciscentric thinking is huge. And look at what my pointing it out got me?

Still, while not precisely a fair question, I've done my share of that kind of crap, and so what the hell, I answered it.

I'm not telling to get over it. And it was not my intent come off as dismissive. If you see it that way, I apologize. Again that's not my intent. However, I would like to see some action. I appreciate Geena's post and think that regardless of the past, it's time to learn from it and move forward.

Well Viktor, I agree: "that regardless of the past, it's time to learn from it and move forward." - Personally, from 2007 on I've seen less and less reason to be involved with the LGB as an openly trans woman. In a very real sense 2007, and the resulting very vocal calls from some gay men for trans people to get out of the movement (that continue to this very day) changed the political landscape for me. Allowed me to reassess where and on whom my time and energy is best spent. For me, and plenty of other trans women who came out as gay men before transition, "moving forward" really means "moving out".

This is a bit of beating the horse, but "moving forward"and learning from the past means staying aware of the past.

We forget it, all too easily. Especially those who occupy a niche that is dominant socially and culturally -- they will tend to forget a wrong done to others.

How many straight folks actually remember who the hell Harvey Milk was and why his murder was such an important thing?

Even if they saw the movie, they often don't know or get it.

But having the movie means they will be reminded once they do know it, once they do get it. It means that the injustice done to him will live on in our memories for as long there are those who point it out.

Why do so many people cite MLK's "Dream" speech? Why did we do a Malcolm X film?

To keep such things in memory.

Why was it important that the lives of people of color and LGBT folks who were slain in concentration camps be recalled?

We do it to keep alive the memory of what mistakes were made, and why we cannot repeat them.

So while you may not have intended to express the idea of "get over it", that was what you did. Which I don't mind, because I'm used to it and I 'm actually willing to get over it.

I'm just not willing to forget it, lest someone repeat the same mistake, regardless of intentions, again.

Viktor, moving forward means moving away from bigots like Obama who control the Democrat Party and it means dismissing HRC, refusing to contribute them and absolutely rejecting their attempts to derail the fight for equality into a fight to collect money to pay bloated staff salaries.

Moving forward means embracing political independence, mass action and a clear, militant, 'won't take no for an answer' program for equality which includes passage of ENDA, or better yet an inclusive Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing equality on the job, in housing and in access to government services. It means fighting to impose severe financial penalties and long jail sentences for political or cult leaders, especially the leader of mega cults like Obama bbf Rick Warren, intimately connected to the 'kill the gays' movement in Uganda , der Papenfuehrer and Obama BBF Lonnie McClurkin. Moving forward also means supporting other real struggles like the right to same sex marriage.

Some questions Viktor.

1) Do you really think anyone should support Obama's ugly sabotage of same sex marriage in California in 2008 and HRC/EQCAs the role in it? Obama blasted us on MTV and at Rick Warrens bigotfest, galvanizing the bigot vote. HRC/EQCA let that pass without comment and continued to run their insipid ads. Our side got frightened and demoralized and the bigots were energized, the polls reversed and we lost, unnecessarily and unexpectedly. (Ask me to prove what I'm talking about Viktor. Ask me for links and stuff. Please.)

Second, do you think that those who point to HRCs long list of failures, it's self appointed leadership and their obscene salaries and institutionalized transphobia are simply whiners? Or do you get angry because HRC is an undemocratic organization that's mainly a tool to reelect Obama?

Third, ENDA's been in the hopper for the last 15 years, and in that time HRC has made tens of millions and what do we have to show for that effort?

Four, exactly why should we waste our time trying to change HRC when we could be building another mass march on DC, exposing the bigots who run the Democrats and Republicans.

You began this discussion claiming that you were part of some kind of oppressed, suppressed minority of Obama and HRC supporters. You provided no proof. Not one citation, not one quotation. Just the complaint that people don't like you support for HRC and the Bigot in Chief. No one's been roughed up or driven out for supporting HRC? We know the opposite is true, they roughed and injured up an activist trying to express her opinion. "Catherine Cusic, a 63 year old lesbian from San Francisco, was forcibly evicted from this weekend's HRC dinner gala after she stood up during Joe Solmonese's keynote speech. According to witnesses and Ms. Cusic, while she had leaflets in her hand about HRC's ENDA debacle, she had not given any out before hired security grabbed her by the arms and literally dragged her from the room, down a flight of stairs and threw her onto the street. Ms. Cusic documented her injuries…" Bilerico July, 2008

Five. Viktor, I'm curious. Has that happened to any HRC or Obama supporters. Has anyone been hurt - not their feelings but physically hurt - by mean spirited, name calling GLBT folks? There's an election coming up and Obama supporters had better get used to the fact that millions of people despise him for his wars, his union busting, his bigotry and his four trillion, seventy four billion dollars given to the rich vs. the 80 billion given to meet the needs of working people. (Ask me to prove what I'm saying about the money too, Viktor. Please.)

Bill, in a lot ways... You just proved my point.

If my comments proved your point, Viktor, then your point is that it's wrong to criticize Obama and the HRC. You failed to answer any of my questions, which were formulated to allow you draw a distinction between personal attacks on supporters of Obama/HRC and criticism of Obama himself or the HRC 'leadership'. Do you think even a little criticism or bigots and movement hustlers is OK and if so, where would you draw the line. Is calling for a boycott of HRC fundraising too much? Does calling for the defeat of Perry and Obama, who share the same bigoted position on same sex marriage and states' rights, cross the line. Should such viewpoints be forbidden?

Which is it, Viktor. We're talking about two absolutely separate questions and I think you're combining them. So please explain for us whether you really think that criticism of Obama's pigheaded and bigoted opposition to same sex marriage is a personal attack on you? OR, do you think advocating political action independent of the Democrats and Republicans is a personal attack on you.

Do you want us to 'move forward' deeper into the swamp of two party electoralism and raise even more money to support HRC's staff in the style they've become accustomed to?

And, why don't you ask me to prove that Obama's 2008 'gawd's in the mix' campaign sabotaged same sex marriage in California or if his union busting attack on the UAW helps deepen the depression and artificially maintain unemployment? And I'll up the ante. Ask me to prove whether or not Obama sighed every rotten Teabagger bill that crossed his desk? You know, the ones that have twice extended the Bush tax cuts for the obscene wealthy.

I am confused too. You may not like the way Bill addressed the president but he has not attack you. He asked questions about how you feel about certain stances the president and HRC have taken. I don't always agree with Bill and his rhetoric can be rough but he is not personally attacking anyone just their ideas. If you are talking about his characterization of the president one I don't believe in he has the right to believe it and he backs up why he believes that with the rest of his post. And his questions are worthy of being answered.
For the records many of these points are the reason I stopped supporting HRC. They have been slow to criticize the problem when he has made missteps. They backed him when he wanted to kick DADT down the road. They have been mute on Obama's lack of support for marriage equality. I closed my ATM machine to them about 2 years ago and have encouraged friends to do the same. The money that was slated to them has now gone to groups like GetEqual.

Not that I'm encouraging extremism on either end of the spectrum, but I hope that everyone does realize that the intentions expressed by the O.P. are essentially the same as those used by Maggie Gallagher and her ilk when they occasionally try to cast the "culture wars" as just a difference of opinion and justification for why our rights should be up to the will of the people (as well as arguing that we're the ones doing the discriminating by not being "tolerant" of their point of view).

We, of course, know better, and realize that such a fundamental denial of rights should not be up for discussion as if it were a decision like whether the toilet paper is best rolled over or under (much less that it should be up for a vote of the majority). However, we do have to realize that people have equally strong opinions about trans-rights issues and the amount of discrimination that continues to be allowed under the administration of a man who promised to be our "fierce ally" (among other things) and they tend to see such moral/values-based issues in just as stark black-and-white, right-or-wrong terms as we do over our LGBT rights in general. Hence, it doesn't surprise me when people who do hold such strong views wind up lashing-out at the people who they believe "just don't get it."

That said, I don't think that personal attacks are called for, by anyone, even those of us who want to refer to Maggie and company with some rather choice words. It's far better to argue the issues on their merits (or lack thereof) rather than resorting to name-calling. But I think we do need to be more sensitive to the feelings of those who are still feeling more disenfranchised than the rest of us.

Rachel Bellum | September 11, 2011 7:56 PM

When I first found Bilerico a few years ago, it completely changed my opinion about the very concept of blogs (after some time passed reading the site I was even inspired enough to contact Bil to investigate how to set up a small site of my own; thanks for being kind enough to humor me Bil).

I found very knowledgeable contributors submitting pieces. More importantly though the comments section was incredible. There are lots of places to find experts professing on some subject. The comments section had other contributors debating the topic as well as whomever else wanted to weigh in. Anyone could enter the debate and engage anyone else at will. Besides elevating the experience to a new level, I thought it was one of the most democratic forums I had ever seen.

It was not however some mythical paradise. There were plenty of crappy comments. Ugly comments. Thoughtless comments. Lots of thoughtless comments. And some of them were occasionally made by contributors as well.

Those were either relatively easily ignored or often turned into learning experiences by that same democratic forum.

Most importantly, it was heads and shoulders above any other such popular forum (much less LGBT) than I had seen. I could be wrong but I do believe that the standards at Bilerico directly led to some other LGBT sites working on improving their own comments section.

I would probably lose interest in this site without a free access comments section.

I've seen some contributors directly stating that they find the comments section offputting and have decided they would rather spend time elsewhere. To my mind that probably means either they do in fact belong elsewhere, or they are not putting in the effort to actually convince people of their position. On at least one occasion it has come across as being troubled because people weren't properly applauding his/her (trying to avoid any signal as to who that person was) pronouncments, to me at least. Even knowing more about a subject than me doesn't necessarily mean I am obliged to automatically accept your opinion as fact, especially the more extreme that opinion is. Experts can be wrong as well. I am capable of learning and of being convinced. Try me. I believe most people are as well.

What I would like to see is contributors again actively engaging in the comments section, and not just each other but the public as well. There probably does need to be some guiding of behavior (whatever I'm guilty of to date I hereby apologize for), but I would not enjoy seeing contributors lecturing others on how to properly comment (people will not engage if they are treated as intellectual inferiors, and I beleive this is a cheap way to debate). I think it's better to primarily lead by example, and to perhaps take alternative methods on the most egregrious examples.

I believe the comments section (combined with a genuine dedication to provide voices to all sections of the community at once, and the occasional non-queer) made Bilerico into something that couldn't be found anywhere else.

Rachel Bellum | September 11, 2011 8:04 PM

I think every contributor who submits a piece should be actively engaged in the comments section for at least that piece, and ideally for some others as well.

Contributors here are not paid. We are busy people who write for Bilerico because we care about the issues. I would post a lot more, but I just don't have time. So, as much as we might have to say, we can't always be "actively involved" in the comments. If someone comments with an interesting idea, a novel point of view, or if someone says something that is inaccurate, I try to weigh in. Otherwise, it's not worth the time it takes to respond to every personal attack and off-topic tirade or just plain nonsense.

Rachel Bellum | September 12, 2011 8:59 PM

I am also a busy person who is here because I care about the issues. As I assume everyone else here is.

I never suggested that every off-topic tirade, personal attack or plain nonsense should be responded to. In fact, I believe you'll find, among other ideas, me suggesting that I usually ignored the things I found to be such.

Forgive me if I'm mischaracterizing your response, but do those three categories describe everything you find in the comments? Are you (or anyone -no intention to be personal) really so busy that although you can write a post, you can't ever check back in to see if there's something in the comments section that merits your attention? And on a continuing basis?

I believe what made/makes Bilerico special is the interaction of contributors and commenters (I kind of hate to even make a distinction in name) as peers. I honestly believe that moving to, or closer to, a format of "experts" lecturing the "public" can only reduce participation and readership.

You can characterize my comment however you wish, but I think I used pretty clear language. We write here for free. It is not your place to suggest or demand that our contributions here as writers come with any additional obligation.

Rachel Bellum | September 13, 2011 9:57 PM

Actually I'm free to suggest anything I wish. Up to now this has been a community where all are free to at least attempt to contribute. Bil, Jerame and whomever can do with that suggestion as they like.

It is my understanding that originally Bil expected contributors to do exactly as I suggested.

I believe I was quite polite to you, and I believe your need to put me in my "place" answers my questions.

Rachel,

We're not here to serve you, so please stop acting as if we are. Steven was not telling you you could not contribute; he was merely making it clear that we're not required to respond. We're also not portraying ourselves as aloof "experts," although we are in fact here because we have some degree of expertise in something; Steven's simply trying the economic of blogging. You seem determined to pursue the fiction that this is merely a hobby on our parts.

Bil doesn't pay us, and we're under no contractual obligations to keep engaging with commenters. I've made my views clear on this matter many times, and not experienced any pushback from Bil or the Edteam, especially in light of the bile that has frequently washed over my posts.

I imagine you spend enough time on the web to understand that every writer has a different way of responding or not responding to commenters.

As someone who has frequently written here and elsewhere about the demands on writers, I feel compelled to weigh in here and support Steven's remarks. All of us who write here are also juggling various jobs and activist lives, which precludes us stopping in every now and then to check in on comments sections for a "gig" that is absolutely unpaid.

Even if we weren't so busy, there is nothing built into the structure of this particular format - free blogging - that requires any of us to respond. At any rate, the comments section frequently take on lives of their own - on my last post, on Dan Choi, I neither engaged nor responded to anyone, for various reasons, some of them noted here, but that did not stop a discussion from happening. Regardless of the quality of such discussions, they can clearly take place without the engagement of the writer. So what's the problem?

Finally, even if we *were* paid: writing on a blog is not activism/public dialogue, and paid writers and journalists need to get on with their work of writing and reporting. I decided a long time ago that my work continues elsewhere, and my writing is meant to give people a perspective that they can debate amongst themselves. If they have issues with how it works out in the real world, people can always carry on those discussions with me elsewhere, or, here's a thought, carry on different work in their own real world activism and writing. By all means feel free to challenge me, *on the ground and in real life,* on why I and/or the groups I work with don't support hate crimes legislation, or the push for gay marriage, or the prison industrial complex in the work we do. Or: hurl mud at me in the comments section. Your choice, really.

Which is to say: Comments sections are just that and, frankly, I don't relish the idea of "debating" matters with people who often exist only in their own imaginations, if they exist at all, to put it bluntly, and/or who often use these threads to throw out - and sometimes throw up - garbled bits that indicate they barely understand the distinctions between, say, a socialist, an anarchist, a leftist, a necrophiliac, and a neophyte. Even as they declare themselves all of the above. In the same thread.

No one expects Paul Krugman or Noam Chomsky to carry on their work of changing the world by wading into comments section. The rest of us may not be at those heights, but we are part of the world we live in, and writing for free is only one part of it.

I will sometimes weigh in on someone else's post to offer suggestions or a reponse but as for my own: Responding to comments is, for most of us at this point, a distraction. I'll respond by making changes if someone points out an actual factual error, and I'll occasionally respond to commenters off-line, if I find their perspective of value - regardless of whether or not they agree with me.

But beyond that: comments often indicate that too many people aren't even bothering to read our posts carefully. Over the last few years, it's evident that a large majority of commenters show up simply because it feels grand to be seen as "taking on" someone who may have a degree of visibility on the web. I'm not required by anyone to wade through and see which ones make most sense when commenting has become, for too many people, an exercise in crafting an avatar - I mean that word to mean more than the little icons that appear next to a name - and has little to do with actually making sense.

Steven is right: It's not your place to suggest what we should do. You can continue to contribute here in any way you see fit, but please don't tell a bunch of unpaid bloggers that they're obligated to respond to you or to anyone else. We are not the change you seek. If you'd like to see more, I'd see about guest posting here, and engage with people that way, if you like.

And that should read, "Steven's merely trying to explain the economics of (free) blogging."

Rachel Bellum | September 14, 2011 3:14 AM

Yasmin,

I am prepared to accept some culpability here for perhaps not making my suggestion sufficiently clear. As I said to Steven, I was not demanding that every comment be replied to. I believe that was clear. What may have not been sufficiently clear was that I was not demanding even that every post get replies or even get them on some schedule or even that every contributor necessarily behave the same way. As someone who has managed volunteers, I think in some ways those might be good aspirations, but hardly strictly feasible.

I never described contributors as salaried employees who weren't working hard enough. I do believe I remember reading a while ago that Bil intended for contributors to be actively involved in the comments section. I don't believe he ever set or tried to set standards (just a guess based on observation and that same vague memory I’m not trying to suggest inside knowledge), nor was I. If there was a post from Chomsky for instance, I agree with you that interaction in the comments would be doubtful (though I would assume if such did happen that it would be seen as demonstrating a democratic character). I would assume that most writers would want to see what was going on with a submission, but as someone who often has a lot going on in my own life, I can certainly understand that schedules and availabilities vary. Nor did I attempt to set any kind of criteria as to what comments might warrant a reply. If nothing else, that could vary a lot based on the nature of the post. While I have enjoyed posts from both Sara Whitman and yourself, I think it's fair to say that they tend to be different and generate different kinds of comments.

I can also understand that a writer might be annoyed by feeling like people are misreading his/her work. I’m feeling that way about my comments on this thread myself. When that crosses over into another level, I’m sure it can be very disheartening. When it’s a piece someone has spent a lot of time on, I’m sure that must be very difficult. Ultimately after speaking with Bil that once (as I mentioned above) who clearly felt the need to warn me about that possibility and a negative experience (and I would like to believe additional more respectable reasons like too little time) that’s why I haven’t pursued blogging even in my own small way.

I do however think that contributors replying to comments add significantly to the site. And I don't think that turns contributors into hobbyists.

I have from the very beginning of this particular discussion referred to contributors as experts. And continued that distinction throughout. Even though I would assume that on almost any, if not any, post there are readers who are themselves in some ways experts on that subject. I believe in that way I have been quite deferential. I'm sorry you feel I haven't been deferential enough. I feel I have learned a great deal reading the posts here the last few years, but I have also learned a great deal from the interactions in the comments section which often add more depth to the discussion.

The articles I personally enjoy the most are the ones that set the stage by providing information for a lively debate in the comments section. Reading knowledgeable commenters and contributors interact in such circumstances usually elevates my understanding of a subject very similarly to a good Q&A following an interesting lecture. However lectures alone often become dry and boring, especially over time.

I don't think it's an attack on anyone's expertise to suggest that a major factor in what has made TBP such a vibrant community is its comments section which to my mind has been notably different than any other site. I firmly believe that one of the attractions here is the public's ability to engage experts and each other so readily. And yes, I believe that imposing structures to lessen that [such as the suggestion that all comments be filtered through editors and only chosen excerpts published] will only work to lessen readers’ involvement. I believe that if TBP were to move toward an attitude of thou shall not question the experts; it would harm the nature of the site as well as readership levels. As someone who enjoys reading TBP, I don't want to see it undertake a model I genuinely believe would be harmful to it. I believe TBP serves the public in an important and unique way, and if anything I would like to see its presence grow.

I also believe that TBP has distinguished itself by attempting to bring together all aspect of the queer community simultaneously. If I felt someone was suggesting changing that, I would also want to suggest otherwise.

Now, in some sense, you are here to serve me [although I find that an ugly phrase and perhaps a tired Americanism]. Not just me of course but all the readers. The site is not for contributors to submit articles to each other, but to the public. If a contributor only wanted to speak to people that contributor accepted as a peer level expert on the subject, I'm sure you all (generally) have access to the means to do so. I don't discuss my research on this site both because it would probably bore people (besides being irrelevant to queer topics), and because it wouldn't provide meaningful feedback for me. I publish it (or at least try to) in the relevant journals. However, when I do discuss it with people, I do my best to make it accessible and to treat the listeners as equal participants.

And with all due respect, I honestly believe you and Steven are wrong. If readers/commenters are relegated to their "place" as only eyes to read posts and notice advertisements, they will be less involved and will treat TBP as just another site among the many which act the same way.

Although I haven’t mentioned it previously, I also believe that the presence of contributors (experts) in the comments helps to elevate that portion of the discussion. I believe one of the reasons the comments sections of many sites are so worthless is that they treat it as an ignorable and disposable area fit only for groundlings.

In a post entitled "Is it OK to Disagree?" I think I should be able to disagree with Steven or you about the value of the comments section without being relegated to my place.

Ultimately the economics are that if readership were to drop too low we would all lose a site which I assume we all value. I assume that you both are making suggestions you believe will serve not just yourself but TBP. As a reader, so am I. As a reader I have commented on what I believe has made TBP special and why I believe it’s important to continue that tradition.

Rachel,

Your misreading of my words as you did with Steven. Whether deliberate or not, such misreading is a major reason why writers like me don't bother responding.

Your words: "I do however think that contributors replying to comments add significantly to the site. And I don't think that turns contributors into hobbyists."

No. It's perfectly clear from what I wrote that I absolutely did not suggest that responding turns us into hobbyists. I meant that this is not something we do for a lark, and that we don't have the time to keep responding to comments - like these, for instance, where someone takes the occasion to manipulate and twist our meaning in order to keep a conversation going.

As for the economics: you completely ignore the idea of writing as labour: “Ultimately the economics are that if readership were to drop too low we would all lose a site which I assume we all value.” What part of, “We don't get paid to write here” does not make sense to you? Readership does not put food on our tables or pay our rent. Academic journals are one model – and a hugely exploitative and faltering one at that – but that model does not work in a world where people actually write for money and where that constitutes their livelihood.

Once again, no, I'm not here to serve you. Seriously, please check your arrogance. And where do you get the right to make presumptuous statements like this: “The site is not for contributors to submit articles to each other, but to the public.” Seriously? You think I get up here and post my pieces for other contributors? Perhaps you also imagine TBP salons every Friday, where we all chat over wine and cheese and make fun of commenters. I mean, really, please. Get real. I noticed, elsewhere, that you also suggested that TBP should have regional sites – clearly, you failed to notice that there were, in fact, such sites in the past. And they didn't work out because they were unsustainable.

Here's my suggestion: Make your own website. Put all the labour you want into creating a readership the way people here have. Get a bunch of committed, bright, people who also know how to write to produce interesting work that will actually draw readers. Do all the labour for free. Keep trying to pay rent/your mortgage and the rest. Then we'll talk.

I wanted to respond to you in part because I suspected you would be an excellent case study of the very problems I've been discussing, but I must say I'm floored by the extent of your refusal to understand the basic logistics of this enterprise. You've ridden roughshod over our explanations and then twisted them to mean something completely different, just so that you could continue to engage our attention.

Thanks for proving my point. I'm done.

As for the economics of writing, I don't think that this will prove at all helpful to you because it doesn't appear that you even dignify writing as labour, but here's what I wrote, for those who are interested:

http://www.yasminnair.net/content/make-art-change-world-starve-fallacy-art-social-justice-%E2%80%93-part-i-spring-2010

And I shall blame all the typos up there on a lack of morning caffeine.

To Geena,

I believe your statement "meanwhile SCC as a vehicle for positive influence has continued to diminish." is in error, as SCC is not an organization involved in changing the political climate for transgender people. It is focused entirely within the community. SCC has no membership othere than a Board of about 6 people.

I believe Cat Turner was the 2007 Conference Chairperson and to the best of my knowledge has never said anything publicly about Joe Solmonese.

SCC is not and has not been a lobbying entity. It's purpose is to provide a safe atmosphere for the transgender community to come together for education, fellowship and personal growth. SCC is a life changing education conference for transgender people. SCC provides free medical exams to the transman community under the auspices of the Robert Eads Health Foundation. SCC provides around 50 scholarships each year to needy transgender people that can really use the information and fellowship that SCC provides. If you talk to any of the Board Members, their understanding of the conference is to help the transgender community and save transgender lives. SCC is an entirely volunteer organization. The closest SCC comes to politics is the seminars exhorting transgender people to take a more active role in politics.

I will say that the reason SCC gives out so many scholarships, and the reason so many people cannot come to SCC is because they are under or unemployed because of a lack of inclusive ENDA. And I am not talking just about transsexuals.

Disclaimer - I am one of those unpaid SCC Volunteers, putting in over 200 hours a year finding and scheduling volunteers for the conference and loading and unloading trucks with conference equipment. The only time I get to see a seminar is when we are short a proctor and I sit in the seminar as a proctor. SCC 2011 will be my 7th conference and 6th as a volunteer.

Deanna

>I believe Cat Turner was the 2007 Conference Chairperson and to the
>best of my knowledge has never said anything publicly about Joe
>Solmonese.

Not true, video clips from his speech were posted, and the whole he's a hypocritical liar ball was started rolling with the intent to get people mad at HRC.

>SCC is not and has not been a lobbying entity

It sure tried to be in 2007. Not as a registered entity but as a forum for advocacy it has always been open as you state here...

>The closest SCC comes to politics is the seminars exhorting
>transgender people to take a more active role in politics.

Exactly, and its ability to influence the community at large has diminished

>200 hours a year finding and scheduling volunteers for the
>conference and loading and unloading trucks with conference
>equipment.

I was involved with SCC for years. I know the structure. Baby I have SCC street cred too.

It's so far down on this thread now that I suspect that only those who have clicked the little box saying "notify me if somebody comments" even care. But.......particularly if Bil and Jerame are reading, I thinik that all of this causes a lot more time, effort, stress (if not worse), that is really worth it. This is a great blog, my two good friends......but what I sense is that the comment morass is dragging it....and you....down. It's decision time, I think. And I think both of you know the right thing to do.

Time for the "Thread Coroner" to declare it dead? For now...

Do we need a coroner to declare this thread to be dead ... or do we need a paleontologist to declare it a fossil?

A thread that is being actively posted to clearly isn't dead.

I don't think this matter will lie down and die, or be killed by the closing of a single article's comments.