Bil Browning

The Corporatization of the LGBT Movement

Filed By Bil Browning | May 01, 2013 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Bradley Manning, corporate support for marriage equality, military, SF Pride

I've stayed out of the Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshall pissing match mostly because I don't live in San Francisco. My thoughts surrounding the issue dealt mostly with the other acceptable players in the march who are severely tainted in their own right.

Now Glenn Greenwald and Steven Thrasher have come out swinging with pieces that echo my own private thoughts about the corporatization of the LGBT movement and how it has played out behind the scenes in this drama. Thumbnail image for greedymoney.jpgSince I've got a ton of work to get done today, I wanted to share two quick quips from both pieces and encourage you to read the entire articles. They're both long-ish, but, if you agree that corporations have taken over the LGBT movement, you'll be cheering so much that the time needed to read them will fly right by.

First from Glenn:

...While even a hint of support for Manning will not be tolerated, there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event's sponsors who are welcomed with open arms. The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn't want, and is now being sued by the US government for "allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web."

The list of SF Pride sponsors also includes Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called "spectacularly brazen in scope". Just last month, the same SF Pride sponsor received a record fine for ignoring a court order and instead trying to collect mortgage payments from bankrupt homeowners to which it was not entitled. Earlier this month, SF-Pride-sponsoring Bank of America paid $2.4 billion to settle shareholder allegations that Bank executives "failed to disclose information about losses at Merrill Lynch and bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch employees before the brokerage was acquired by Bank of America in January 2009 for $18.5 billion."
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Also in Good Standing with the SF Pride board: Clear Channel, the media outlet owned by Bain Capital that broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck; a pension fund is suing this SF Pride sponsor for making cheap, below-market loans to its struggling parent company. The health care giant Kaiser Permanente, another proud SF Pride sponsor, is currently under investigation by California officials for alleged massive privacy violations in the form of recklessly disclosing 300,000 patient records, and was previously targeted with criminal and civil charges, which it settled, for dumping a homeless patient, still in a hospital gown, on skid row.

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture.

A clip from Thrasher's piece after the break.

Professional Homosexuals fill the boards of organizations like SF Pride. As their organizations' chief fund raisers, they are beholden to corporate donors (of any ilk) to keep their outfits going. But Professional Homosexuals like [SF Pride Board President Lisa] Williams can also build very nice lives for themselves, in serving on these boards, as one of the handful of people who happen to also have a consulting firm that makes "strategic programs for non-profit organizations." When anything threatens this livelihood--even the hint of support for controversy--a Professional Homosexual knows which cheek her ass is buttered on. (Meanwhile, the same Professional Homosexual has no problem taking a steaming dump on Bradley Manning who, regardless of one's opinion of him, cannot be charged with profiting in any way for his own personal gain from what he did.)

To the Professional Homosexual, there is no moral quandary in selling out one's own queer soul, liberated by a once-radical movement, by accepting endless militarism and corporate greed in return for personal fortune. And since Professional Homosexuals control so many LGBT organizations and spaces, they threaten to drag the entire community down with them.
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The boys and girls from GLADD make a living (and a rather good one, at that) shaking down the likes of South Park and Ron Howard improperly using the word "gay." At the same time, their organization nearly imploded in 2011 when it came out that, after AT&T gave them $50,000 and while an AT&T lobbyist sat on their board, GLADD came out for an AT&T/T-Mobile merger and against net neutrality.

The real sins of GLADD are twofold. First, the people who pass through there--who consider their job to be the "public relations firm" of the LGBT community, as if it needs such a thing--learn how to manipulate media on behalf of other gay groups. They then--coincidence!?--land good jobs for themselves at the same groups for whom they have groomed fawning coverage.

Their other, more egregious sin is that they have perpetuated this stupid idea that covering the LGBT community responsibly means only writing and reporting nice things about gay people (and their sponsors). This fosters a new generation of impotent journalists who don't realize that, if you're doing your job as a journalist, people don't "like" you.

Last August, I addressed the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association with a screed about the evils of LGBT press flacks. Before I spoke, a representative from one of NLGJA's sponsors, Wells Fargo, got up on stage to talk about how he had always wanted to be a journalist; instead, he said without irony, he was glad to be at Wells Fargo, so that he could "work with" gay journalists to tell good stories about all the great things Wells Fargo is doing for the LGBT community.

Wells Fargo is also one of SF Pride's corporate sponsors.


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