Bil Browning

HRC Rock To Win concert

Filed By Bil Browning | August 27, 2008 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Media, The Movement
Tags: Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper, DNCC, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, Melissa Etheridge, Rock to Win, Rufus Wainwright, Susan Sarandon

Yesterday when I was waiting the press area of the LGBT delegate luncheon, Jed Hastings approached me to tell me how much he enjoyed reading the blog. Jed is Joe Solmonese's partner and Joe walked over shortly after. We chatted for a few minutes and exchanged business cards.

After the luncheon was over, Jed gave me a call and invited me to be his VIP guest at that evening's Rock To Win concert. While I had a press pass already, who gives up a chance to be a VIP? Jerame was going to the Hillary Clinton speech at the convention and my floor pass had fallen through so we agreed that he'd cover the speech and I'd cover the concert.

I rode the train back to our hotel room and dropped off my laptop and (heavy) bag of assorted swag and electronics and turned back around to ride the light rail back downtown. crowdshot.jpgWhile figuring out how to get to the Fillmore Auditorium was a challenge (a train, a shuttle, walk a bit and then ride a bus the rest of the way), I still managed to get there shortly after it had started.

I picked up my press pass and then headed to the VIP check in. They gave me my credentials and I walked inside. The lower levels were packed already, but the upstairs VIP boxes had plenty of room to move about. Little did I know how absolutely amazing last night would be. Seven video clips of performances and some more pics after the jump.

Upstairs the alcohol and food were free, but the best part was the view of the stage. I apologize in advance for the fuzzy pictures, but flash photography wasn't allowed. I did manage to grab some video though of some of the acts.

ThelmaHouston.jpgThelma Houston was performing when I arrived, but after she'd left the stage, a big screen dropped down for the attendees to watch Hillary Clinton's speech to the convention. Originally a security staffer told me that Hillary Clinton would be on stage with Margaret Cho, and several other folks thought Hillary would make a personal appearance too. We wondered with each other how she was going to speak at the concert and still make it in time to give her speech at the convention. When the screen dropped down, everyone figured it out.

The room had quite a few lesbians and gay men who had supported Clinton vociferously through the primaries and her speech was met with thunderous applause and quite a few of the concert-goers were in tears by the time the speech was over. While I'd supported Obama, I found myself choking up on occasion and nodding my head with almost everything she said. It was the best speech of Hillary's life.

Margaret Cho came on stage next and gave a short monologue about same-sex marriage. I clipped my favorite part for Projectors on video:

iPhone users: Click to watch

Rufus Wainwright's set came next. I was exchanging text messages with Jerame about this time and noticed Cyndi Lauper come on stage to do a duet with Rufus and whipped out the camera to record as much as possible for him. (You can hear Jed and I talking about Cyndi at the beginning while I recorded.)

iPhone users: Click to watch

Shortly after I stopped recording, I noticed that Susan Sarandon and Melissa Etheridge were sitting in the next box over from mine. I walked over and introduced myself and told Ms. Sarandon that she was one of my absolutely favorite movie stars and activists. I told her to continue her very important work and she gave me a kiss. *swoons* Shortly after Alan Cumming joined the group while Jed got the job of letting the stars have some privacy. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to record or take pictures with any of them since a lot of other people were also wanting to hang out with the celebrities. (After I made it up to talk to Ms. Sarandon, everyone wanted in on that action!) I left the area to go downstairs and smoke and text Jerame to tell him what I'd been up to.

The convention had just let out and knowing that Jerame is one of the biggest Cyndi Lauper fans in existence, I let him know she hadn't taken the stage yet. Jerame ran the almost 3 miles from the Pepsi Colosseum and made it just in time for Cyndi's set. He and I recorded almost every single one of her songs - including her performance of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" with her son.

iPhone users: Click to watch

iPhone users: Click to watch

iPhone users: Click to watch

iPhone users: Click to watch

Etheridge1.jpgBecause Jerame is such a huge Cyndi fan, I didn't have much room left over to record any of Melissa Etheridge's performace. For our lesbian readers though, I did manage to catch the clip where she dropped down on stage and made love to her guitar. Funny side note: When I had my celebrity moment with Susan Sarandon and was gushing over her like a starstruck teenager, Melissa asked me, "What am I? Chopped liver?" Of course, I quickly told her that I loved her (and her music as well), but, well, I'd never had the chance to meet Susan Sarandon before!

iPhone users: Click to watch


I saw most of the queer movers and shakers running around the concert last night and not just celebrities. I chatted with a good portion of them and had a very nice time chatting with Jed and Joe about Bilerico Project and the tone of the blog concerning ENDA. I agreed that while trans folks have every reason to be angry at HRC for their stance on ENDA, at times the angry rhetoric had proven unhelpful for either side. (Anyone remember how Joe Solmonese was worse than Hitler? As has been pointed out to me by several non-HRC folks, that disgusting slur comparing the slaughter of millions of Jews by a demented bastard versus a political decision by a non-profit organization cost us quite a few readers - especially Jewish ones.)

I said to Joe that I thought the constant nasty remarks and bitterness wasn't helpful, but it was understandable. I told him that I was personally sick of the topic by this point, just because no one seems to be able to offer a solution or be willing to engage in productive dialogue as versus just assuming the worst intentions and smearing both sides with shit. While the topic is obviously relevant and important, after a while the constant berating and over the top comparisons has turned off some trans allies - including myself.

I told Joe that while I still firmly stood by my stance that ENDA needed to be fully inclusive and include gender identity, I wished some of our trans contributors would share more of the trans experience outside of ENDA. After all, I don't know the trans experience; I learn from Projecters on the site. When the topic stays the same and doesn't stay productive, I don't learn anything.

I invited Joe to rejoin the blog to share his opinion on queer issues. While I warned him that I was sure some Projectors wouldn't be able to respect our comment rules to be civil and not attack contributors or readers, I'd monitor the comments section to keep the comments on topic and, while possibly angry, not to the level of the disgusting Hitler comparison. I hope he'll take me up on my offer. The point of our experiment is to hear from all parts of our community, be respectful to each other and hopefully learn from each other.

As Jerame, Jed, Joe and I walked out of the concert to catch cabs home, Joe said he'd do a post about Joe Biden to test the waters. I agreed to go on the Agenda, his Sirius radio show. After all, communication is key; otherwise we're just talking at each other instead of with each other. I sincerely hope that our readers will extend the same courtesy. As anti-HRC as our blog has turned, I found it refreshing that Jed and Joe were still willing to extend a hand in friendship.

I accepted and while I still plan on keeping a wary eye on the political machinations necessary in the Capital, I hope Projecters will extend the same courtesy. After all, we're all on the same side - whether it's Susan Sarandon, Joe Solmonese or Jerame and I. We do this because we want the best for our community. We might have different opinions on how to achieve equality, but we have the same end goal.

As a wise man once told me, "Sometimes when you have a different opinion than someone, that doesn't make them the enemy; it makes them a friend you disagree with." If we're going to win, we'll need all the friends we can get. I'm glad to say that Joe and Jed get that - and we're still friends even through my own criticisms of HRC and those of our contributors. It shows their "true colors."

It was an amazing night of celebrities, good music and time spent with friends. I wish you all could have been there with Jerame and I to experience it all. I hope the videos and pics do it justice.

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I'm sorry, I disagree Brandi. Taking extreme rhetoric to the level of comparing Solmonese to Hitler isn't dialogue. It's not helpful in any way.

And as far as I know, Christ didn't demand anyone confess their sins to him, but to make peace with the Lord. And it sure as heck didn't stop him from talking to those who wanted to kill him, disparage him, or even those whom everyone else despised. I think Christ's message was one of tolerance and forgiveness.

So far, I haven't heard anyone from the trans community ask for forgiveness for the hatefulness that has come out of some of this. (Not that everyone needs to, of course, but even the author of the Hitler quote has attempted to stand by it. While the trans community is pissed at HRC understandably, it's also understandable why several Jewish readers would also demand a retraction that's never been given. If you're not able to do something yourself, it's hard to demand it of others.)

And as a constant negotiator, I've often found that the hardest ice to break is when you get two groups of people to admit that they both fucked up. Neither side wants to admit that most often. I see the same thing here.

My larger point though is that it shouldn't be uncomfortable for anyone to feel free to speak their piece on this blog. When Projectors make someone feel so unwelcome that they leave the site, that's taking it too far. Many trans folk have said they feel uneasy on other gay blogs just because they are denigrated and demeaned. I simply expect the same thing for all contributors at Bilerico Project - whether a regular cast member or a guest blogger.

It brings up several important points that would really benefit from being flushed out. I certainly hear and support your call to more civil conversation and dialog.

But I don't see this as a "trans community" vs HRC thing. The HRC is an organization, makes decisions as a whole, is responsible for the behavior of employees/volunteers, and can do something to reign them in when they get out of hand. The trans community is none of those. Treating us as if we are one entity is entirely unfair. I can see that's not what you're trying to do, but your phrasing turns too quickly to frame the issue as a conflict between two groups as opposed to an organization and thousands of individuals. I, for example, can apologize for hurtful things I have said, and feel that I can ask that of others as well.

The other thing I want to highlight is the idea that no one should be uncomfortable to speak their mind. But there are obviously limits. Right here your intent is pretty clear to indicate that Hitler comparisons are unwelcome (as they should be). In order to make people feel comfortable speaking there are some kinds of statements that must be unwelcome. Anti-semetism, racism, abelism, etc must be challenged in order to make everyone feel welcome.

I think the issue is that some people see Joe's statements (or his framing of information, the facts he leaves out, the questions he doesn't answer, not to mention the actions that don't match his statements) as transphobic, and therefore a part of what our community standards tell us must be challenged.

I don't have an easy answer, as I'd like to see Joe posting, engaging, and dialoging with a larger community, but even if he's talking about a completely different subject I predict it will still bring up a lot of perceived transphobia. How to deal with that is going to be a challenge for the Bilerico community.

Thanks Tobi, I agree. And it's not a trans vs HRC thing (or United ENDA wouldn't exist!). On TBP, it's mostly a small group of very (deservedly) angry individuals that hijack threads. We know this. I just wanted to try and implore folks to give Joe the same courtesy they would any other contributor. For example, a post on a vice presidential candidate shouldn't devolve into a "You're a scumbag" type of conversation.

I also agree that it'll be a challenge, but I think the dialogue is worth it. If we do this right, it can be a boon for the community.

I read Brandi's comment three times and I didn't see "Hitler" once. It seems you're the one going over the top in responding to one person on one comment. I suggest you save that comment to one who actually says the word.

Hero worship is so easy when they're giving you perks. Joe is trying to grease the palm of Bilerico's site to get better press. You bought right into it. How sad.

How is it hero worship or greasing palms for good press when Joe's always been welcome to post on TBP? As far as I know, Joe was never "banned" or asked not to post - he walked away from what he perceived as a hostile situation.

Jed approached Bil as a fan of the blog - why do we have to look for ulterior motives?

When it comes to HRC, absolutely. They don't do anything without an ulterior motive. "Money?"

Monica, if they're looking for money from me, they're sadly mistaken. I just don't have any to give! (You think blogging pays well?!)

I don't think I said anything about Brandi being the one to leave the comment, Monica. I don't remember who said it and wasn't going to bother to look it up. The point wasn't to demonize one person, but to point out the extremes some of the rhetoric has gone to.

Okay. I appreciate you clearing that up. It's sometime hard to follow the players without a scorecard, especially now. Because of the Convention, we get 10 to 15 new posts a day. It's hard to keep up if you're trying to read them on breaks at work.

I agree with the notion of violations of Godwin's law being unproductive. Also, I will say that, also not knowing off hand who had made the Hitler comparison, your initial response left me with the impression that it must have been Brandi. Thanks for clearing it up.

Try to enjoy that free time in Denver tomorrow.

This is actually a conversation Bil and I had last night. I get tired of being lumped in and labeled a "rich gay man" because I give my time and money to HRC.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I do what I do. I joined HRC when I was a few years out of college and made a pledge of $50 a month. It was absolutly a stretch but I viewed it as necessary and important. Let me back up, I am very lucky to have a college education and a good job. Period.
Nine years later, I give substantially more. I don't give because it makes a big difference in my life. If I choose to do so, I can hire a lawyer and draft wills, set up an estate and I can sit down with my living mother and make it very clear what my last wishes would be. And, she would honor those wishes. Again, I am very lucky. I am not going to tell you if I have and no, I do not have an estate. Here is why I give.
I give for the 20 year old gay man that does not know he may need a living will for his parter to make medical decisions. I give for the young transgender woman that needs a resource and a website to look at (yes, HRC is just ONE resource, I get it). And I give for all of the GLBT (yes T) individuals BEHIND me so that they will have a better life than I do with MORE RIGHTS.
I continue to give, fight and love our community. Please don't lump me into your preceptions...

I have no idea why I - or anyone who didn't make the comment you mention - should apologize for a statement I've never made. Anymore than you should be asked to apologize for the gay man who verbally assaulted me on the street last week with scarey comments. Are you suggesting that transpeople and their supporters making non-Godwin comments that were angry should apologise?

I'm not sure why you wanted to distract from your own story on the event by bringing the issue up in such a stilted manner. It seems more likely to invite emotion than the reason your seeking.

But - let's get back to the event. Did Margaret Cho make any mention of the last DNC Convention event she was invited to perform at? Must be some juicy stories there.


I'm sorry for the stilted flow in the story. Simply put, I'm exhausted. Utterly exhausted. Bedtime has been very late and getting up early; I don't think I've had more than 5.5 hours of sleep in one night - most often quite a bit less. I apologize for being sloppy.

You make a good point about everyone apologizing for the Godwin comment. I don't expect everyone to apologize for that one single remark (although I did expect someone from the trans community to tell the Projector they had crossed the line; instead as I remember, most defended it).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've become one of the trans community's biggest supporters and even I'm getting tired of the super heated rhetoric and seeming bitterness. The anger is real and I don't mean to diminish that; as a non-trans person while I can sympathize, I can't empathize. As a community we have different experiences.

But you'd be surprised how many e-mails I get, comments on other blogs I see, and people who stop me out in public who describe Bilerico Project as "too angry," "too hateful," or "always full of bitter posts." That's not the type of place we all want, I think.

I want TBP to be a positive source of information and opinion. I want all opinions to be welcome, even those we don't all agree with. I love the debate, but I can't stand the angry personal attacking comments. I guess after hearing the blog described as "full of angry hateful people" at least a dozen times this week, I'm getting a little sensitive. That's not the place I want the blog to be and that's not the vast majority of posts we publish daily. It's also not 99% of commenters.

Hence, my quote about friends we disagree with. I love all of our commenters and contributors and don't think ill of any of them. I don't agree with most of what a few contributors write, but I'm respectful in my criticisms of the ideas and not the contributor. I try hard to avoid hyperbole (although that's one I struggle with and readily admit it!) because it's not helpful. I try to monitor the site closely and spend about 12-16 hours a day working on it. I'm asking Projectors to spend some time improving the site too.

As for your question about Margaret Cho, I didn't hear her mention the last DNCC. I'd love to hear those stories too. :)

I think that anger over something as important as being lied to (and a history of deception) over fully supporting one's basic civil rights isn't an innapropriate reaction.

And sadly - it's the only one that's actually getting a response. In that sense - HRC is showing us how to effect their behavoir. Nothing else has worked. I'd like it if something else had worked over the last 15 years and I'd like it if I wasn't lied to - but - neither is true.

If only activists stood for niceness instead of evil? (with apologies to Don Adams)

HRC approved activism?

Good Morning,
Am/was I angry? Yes, of course. Did I have a part in that, absolutely.

I irrationally allowed that part of me that is still a little girl to hope and believe that "Daddy Joe" and the grown-ups would make it all OK just because they said that that is what they wanted to do. Sweeties, I've been around for 65 years, involved to various degrees in "The Movement" for 45 of those years, I really do know better. Sometimes you take what you can get, knowing that you will go back for, "just a little more" later (remember the salami technique).I grew up in a world that allowed a police raid on a dyke bar to culminate in sever beatings for 8 and gang rapes for we 2 underaged dykelets. This doesn't happen now. HRC, along with NCLR, GLCC's all over the country and a plethora of other GLBT Advocacy groups stand for all of us and that is why it doesn't happen. Folks, sometimes we forget that we are winning!!!

I work in a Forensic Hospital for men in a fundamentally red-neck area of north central Florida. I walked in cold and was hired as an openly Lesbian transwomon. Sure I'm fairly stealth. Some of those residents would not be able to not try to kill me if they knew, but my colleagues and co-workers including many Bible Belt fundamentalists, are friendly and accepting are friendly and accepting - sure it took some of them a while getting to know me (is this a strategy folks?) but it really is OK now. See, I expect it to take a while because I never forget, "If you think it looks really weird from the outside, you ought to have seen the inside of this trip"



A little Cyndi Lauper love and now you're all "yum, yum, yum - HRC!"? You guys are easy. :)

Seriously though, it's good to hear that Joe will be coming back to TBP. I think this is exactly the sort of place where conversations can be open and call screeners, no one controlling the agenda, no mounted police.

I'm sure it's going to get hot in here for him, but I really hope he sticks around and engages with the diverse community represented at TBP.

I am new enough here that I don't remember Joe's earlier presence, but I welcome him back. It would be good if he is able to engage with those who are frustrated or angry with some of his decisions.

But on our part, we need to be mindful of how easy it is to use words online which cut deeply. Its easy to wound persons in forums such as this. Doing so is unlikely to help anyone or anyone's cause.

I will retract the claws if he shows up. There are too many wonderful words in the English language to combine to make a strong and vivid point without deteriorating to the language I learned in the Navy.

The big question is, will he just post something and then run away and hide, not having the guts to comment on the comments? Many contributors do that. I get the feeling they see themselves too aloof and self-important to mingle with the commoners. If that's what he plans on doing, then there will no such thing as a chance to have an engaging dialogue. It defeats the point of him even posting here. If we care to read something from him, we can read his thoughts on the HRC web site. So, is TBP going to become an HRC auxilery message board and nothing more?

Thanks for pointing this out, Monica. Do you mind if I clip the part about other contributors "posting and running" (as I call it) and send it out to them all? It's one of my stipulations on joining the blog and I've noticed several of them slacking in that regard.

And "retracting the claws" is all that I ask. HRC may not be perfect - I've been a critic of various things at times. I'm probably the biggest blogger to actively critique them often.

But you can't start a dialogue with someone/some org that you hope to change if you (not you personally, of course) aren't willing to be civil. No one speaks to the guy ranting and raving on the street corner, but if you approach someone rationally and civilly, you can often get results.

Please, send it out. Many, many times I ask simple and very respectful questions or bring up ideas that I would like the contributor to elaborate further and it goes nowhere. People need to follow the example set by you, Alex and several others.

I want a dialogue. You saw the conversation I had with Dana and I'm willing to talk without the venom. I've already got my digs in with Joe by one time offering to buy him a glass of Southern Comfort on the rocks. A month later, I pointing out the Atlanta dinner theme of Las Vegas was appropiate because they were gambling with people's lives.

Here is neutral territory, the Switzerland of the blogs. The various factions get angry at times, but the Swiss offer some chocolate and things calm down . . . sort of. But, even the Swiss have those who like to stir up the s-word.

Angela Brightfeather | August 28, 2008 11:27 AM


First of all I'm glad you are having a good time, although I can tell, you will probably need a good 48 hour sleep after returning. And thanks so much for your reports and all the reports from the DNC coming from GLBT people. It's not as good as being there, but it sure gives everyone a different perspective on things.

I hope that you can tell Joe that I have a $500 reward out for anyone who can get Obama to answer the question "Will he veto an non inclusive ENDA?"

I have caught a lot of flack for doing this, but if he said "yes" we would all be able to unite and stop the verbal abuse. He has said, and his wife Michelle noted the other night, that he is in favor of an inclusive ENDA. But if he took a firmer stance on it, even HRC and Joe would have to reconsider their position of siding with Frank and we could all redirect our efforts towards the real opponents of an inclusive ENDA.

I am no fan of Joe S. and HRC, but communicating is the key and recently I have been concerned about Trans people who decided to stick it out inside HRC for the express purpose of "change from within". These Trans people, many who I have called friend for many years, are in a real Catch 22 situation, being not trusted on the inside of HRC and being called traitors from others on the outside of HRC. My concern right now is for my friends, and the only way I see out of this mess is through more communication and insuring them that they are still my friends. But I want them to start to do exactly what they have said they want to do, create change from the inside.

Somehow those of us on the outside of HRC have to communicate with our friends on the inside to let them know that there are any number of things that we can do to help each other.

The biggest roadblock to our communicating each other's needs and coordinating our efforts on the inside and outside, are the issues of incramentalism as adopted by Frank and HRC and this schtick about having to "educate" that Frank keeps on using as a tool to delay our rights.

On the first point, I just don't understand why we Trans people cannot agree that incramentalism is not a politically acceptable alternative. After all of us working for ENDA since 1993 together, it would be totally unfair to think that some of us have to wait for our equality and suffer in the interim. After all, if we have educated people enough for our Presidential Candidate to openly accept inclusion, why is it that Frank is allowed to live in his own insulated world and be able to cast our future in doubt?

On the second point, of having to educate more... this is such a terrible excuse. Not only have we been doing it for many years and on a constant basis, but it is so transparently being used as a means to deny equality in this case and as a ploy to redirect the issue at hand.

My answer to "more education" is go to Google and type in Transgender and spend the next 800 hours reading about it. I have never, ever, heard of a support group for gays, going to a lesbain gathering and explaining the reason why they should be included in ENDA or lesbians having to explain their being included in ENDA, or bisexuals having to explain to either gays or lesbians why they should be included. What makes Transgender people so unique that they have to justify also wanting employment protections that are equal to the others?

If Joe S. comes back to this list, I think that might be the first question I would ask him. Exactly what is it that he does not understand about Transgender people that justifies our not having the same equal rights?

But hey Bil. have a great time tonight and enjoy the show. Everyone there is a part of American history in the process and thanks again for all the time you take to report the news and views.

Meghan Stabler | August 29, 2008 12:30 AM


As one of those you refer to as "inside" I would be honored to spend time with you. We met briefly at the Congressional Hearing where as an HRC Business Council member I submitted written testimony, and where my business council colleague, friend and brother Diego Sanchez testified along with other admirable voices for our needs. I don't work for HRC I maintain a job ( which is no longer a career ), I am also active in other areas such as a member of Obama's National LGBT Steering and Policy group along with other "trans" notibles and Tobias Wolfe and Rep. Tammy Baldwin. I am on other boards and committees including one focused purely on healthcare. I am active and to my detriment for my career, effected by discrimination in work and in health needs. But I am here, like you, like Monica, like my dear friend and big sister to me Donna, like Mara, like Ethan and countless others.

I'll state here. I am NOT for a split ENDA, the only words I say in or out of HRC surroundings are for the sole focus of an inclusive ENDA.

I fully expect that in typing the above, to be slammed by some, flamed by others, as has happened in the past. All I ask is that people get to know me, get to know Diego, know our focus, our passion and commitment to "OUR" needs for equality - regardless of Identity OR Expression of Gender.

If anyone would like to talk, please call me, YOUR voice will be heard and your words will be added to mine moving forward.


Thank You for your coverage of the DNC it is great to have first hand coverage! You are right about "I don't know the trans experience; I learn from Projecters on the site. When the topic stays the same and doesn't stay productive, I don't learn anything." What would you and the non-trans like to know about us? Maybe it would be a great topic for Bilerico? I'm sure if questions were asked they would be answered!
My personal feelings about HRC and Joe are to be very hurt and angry with the agreeing to use us as a bargaining tool! Would I be civil to him if he posted here? Of course I would! I personally need to understand why HRC continues to hold us Trans-people as outsiders and not worth protection? A lot of the trans-people that post may only know each other because of the groups and blogs that we may subscribe to and have not actually met at least In my experience. Again,What would you and the non-trans like to know about us? I will be glad to answer from my perspective! It would be great if others T's , CD's and others answered from their's!

What a great idea for a post. An open topic where people put down a few things about themselves. If I was a contributor, I would have started that, but there are some great supportive non-trans contributors that would probably consider your idea.

However, with the flood of posts during this and the next convention, we may need to have a slower time for this so it would not be shoved into the archives in a short time.

Bil as a T I've tried to make my comments towards hrc and Enda as friendly and reasonable as I can.But when the Chuck Wolfe post started calling Barney Frank and Hrc heroes to the lgbt I took offense to that.I did reply to a comment by Gregg C in a manner that showed my frustration and my distaste for Mr.Frank and hrc and will continue to be frustrated until somebody does some explaining as to why they took that action.I'm not talking about some lame hope they buy it excuse but the real meat and potatoes version.Like I've said in previous comments I'm not looking for an apology just the reasons.Only after I've seen their reasons can I decide if Hrc and Barney Frank are worth forgiving.I can't really see your logic in blaming the T for any part of this mess other than maybe those T's who claim leadership didn't rise to the occasion.As for what's the T experience like, I'd be happy to be part of a question and answer forum sometime after you guys catch up on your sleep.

So Joe's gonna post? I'll believe it when I see it. And read it. And edit it. And reformat the HTML. And schedule it. And comment on it.

If you think for one minute that I strategized on how to grease the BP wheels, you are 100% wrong. I read the blog, recognized Bil, and introduced myself as a fan. And I am. One of the things I appreciate about the blog is that it has many contributors. I can pick and choose and read what I want. All on one site.
I work in the private sector (not for HRC and not for a non-profit) and the thought of asking Bil for money never even crossed my mind. If you could have seen Jerame watching Cyndi, or Bil meeting Susan...that made my night.
Thanks for the education. FYI, I used to give a good sum of money to my Catholic University. A few years ago, I wrote a letter to the President of my alma matter stating why I was pulling my money and giving it to a grass roots organization that gives college scholarships to gay, lesbian AND transgender students.
I think the thing that most annoys me right now is that since my name was made public on this blog, I have been called a "rich gay man" and I have people insinuating that I don't know how, where, and to whom my money should be given.

I am not coming back to this comment section for precisely the reasons that Bil has highlighted time and time again.

Well, gee that went well.

Look, folks, I think that we do stand the best change of working this out by talking to each other in a polite manner. We can debate without arguing; we do it here all the time about less emotionally changed issues. The anger that I see here from the trans community is well justified, but it is about more than ENDA and goes back to things that were pulled by HRC long before Joe came on the scene. I think that Regina's idea is a good one--we should all get to know each other better, and that goes both ways: none of us really know Joe as a whole person or know anything at all about Jed save what has been posted here.

Having Joe and Jed, Meghan, Diego, Dana and whomever else around here is a chance to start an open dialogue and just TALK to each other.

Not coincidentally, the reason I have been scarce around here and at Pam's is that I am doing what I can to work for local candidates who are pro LGBT rights (across the boards). Even though these folks are not running for Federal positions, they interact with the people who are and, more importantly, I am giving the volunteers who are working on their campaigns the talking points on our issues (including inclusive ENDA) and they in turn are passing them on.

For the record, I have been spending a lot of my time working with Democratic candidates and volunteers and I have yet to run into ONE person who is against TRANS-INCLUSIVE ENDA. In fact, we also had a Green candidate who had a couple of trans volunteers working on his campaign and they told me that they got a lot of support for inclusive ENDA when they mentioned it to people as well.

You and Bill took my comments wrong. I stated that HRC doesn't do anything without an ulterior motive. I wasn't saying that Bil would give HRC money, but by being given "good press" elsewhere, it can get donations from others. Of course, it'll take a lot more to have Bil won over.

And, can't you see the connection between you not donating to the Catholic University as being the same reason why many LGBT people have stopped donating to HRC? Your unintentional anology completely highlights the problems HRC is facing. I couldn't have come up with a better anology if I tried.

The comments that Brandi and I had are tamed compared to what can be said here on TBP, and still remain well under their TOS. If Joe, you and HRC people are not willing to tough it out and stand your ground on what you believe, then the idea of dialogue is a pipe dream. It is tough out here for trans people and we can be battle-hardened. But, we know when it is time to talk. Running away doesn't solve anything. It just makes our position look more correct. If HRC becomes pig-headed on talking with us, then who do you think is going look good?

The olive branch is being extended, but it does come with thorns. You going to be brave enough to take it, thorns and all?

HRC is rightly criticized here and elsewhere for saying one thing and doing another, for choosing the failed strategy of "incrementalism" over inclusiveness based on the false analogy to the black civil rights movement (all you have to do is listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech (
and read about his response when LBJ asked him to "cool it" while LBJ worked to convert the many racists in Congress ( hear his resounding rejection of incrementalism),and not devoting the same resources to promoting the rights of transgender people as it does to same-sex marriage and other primarily LGB issues. It does not, however, advance our cause or promote the kind of dialogue that is essential to achieving equal rights for all of us to simply deny reality.

Brandi provides one example in this thread. She asks whether anyone has "seen [HRC] spend a Dime on Education of all these congress people who need Educating on Trans issues to get ENDA passed?" My (rhetorical) question to her is to ask whether she thinks it didn't cost HRC at least "a Dime" to assign its employees to work with Congressmen George Miller and others to organize the historic congressional hearings on transgender employment discrimination that happened earlier this year? Was that effort enough to lead me to trust HRC in all matters? Of course, not! But I am grateful for the part that HRC, along with many, many others, played in making that hearing the success that it was.

Similarly, elsewhere I have encountered incredible anger at HRC for rightly and eloquently condemning the so-called "trans panic" defense when the murder of Angie Zapata tried to justify his actions as a reasonable response to learning something he probably already knew -- that Angie still had a penis ( These critics claim that HRC's statement was an attempt to co-opt the trans rights movements and make itself the sole organization speaking for the trans community. Whether or not that's HRC's plan, I am grateful for HRC's unequivocal condemnation of the attempts by the murderers of Angie and far, far too many others to blame their victims for their own actions. In this case, HRC said exactly what needed to be said. Why condemn them when they do the right thing? It drives me crazy when we allow our emotions over the past to shoot ourselves in the foot by condemning the efforts of those who are genuinely helping our case, imperfect as their efforts may be.

I don't like HRC and am nowhere close to trusting them to say and do the right things to promote equal treatment for trans people, but, when they do, I'm willing to give them credit. I hope others will take their blinders and do the same, while still holding HRC's feet to the fire on trans rights issues.

Back up for a second. I don't represent HRC. I don't want to engage because it is not what I am about.
As for your liking my big difference. I wrote the President, gave my money to a different organization and moved on. you have no idea what school I am talking about AND, so much good came out of my time at my school that I am still proud to be alumni.
Perhaps there is maybe one single thing you can think of that HRC has done for you? Just one?