Michael Crawford

The Gays are Pissed. Now What?

Filed By Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: gay protests, gay rights movement, LGBT allies, LGBT rights, LGBT unity, Prop. 8, Prop. 8 protests

Every other blog post is about gays erupting in righteous anger over the passage of Prop. 8, hate-monger James Dobson's induction into the Radio Hall of Fame or some other issue. But, what are we accomplishing other than giving people an opportunity to act out?

Two Wives.jpg

Don't get me wrong. I love seeing LGBT people rising up and screaming at the top of their lungs "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!" I just think we need ways to channel that energy and passion into the kind of action that is going to build support for LGBT civil rights and win equality.

Wolfgang Umana at an Obama rally in Virginia

We need a 50 State Strategy for Winning LGBT Equality with buy-in from national and state organizations committed to bringing together the financial resources and amazing talents of the LGBT community to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and advance equality across the country.

Just as Howard Dean moved from "the scream" to masterminding the 50 state strategy that helped the Democrats regain control of Congress and elect Barack Obama as president, we need to takes a systemic inventory of what resources are available in every state and commit to rebuilding the movement from the ground up.

That is going to require our organizations to stop being so damn territorial and require that we all get over our individual biases and grudges to unite around a common agenda for full LGBT equality. A key thing proven by the Obama campaign is that "we is far more powerful than me."

We need to talk to our family, friends and co-workers about the damage that hateful amendments like Prop. 8 are doing to our lives. We can no longer sit back and let our loved ones get away with saying that the love us while voting for candidates and policies that enforce second-class status on us.

As we enter the Holiday Season, take the Prop. 8 Holiday Season Pledge:

Thumbnail image for Prop. 8 Holiday Season Pledge.jpgI pledge during this Holiday Season to talk to my family, friends, and loved ones about how the passage of these anti-gay referendums affect my life and my happiness.

I will ask them to stand up for me and help me fight future efforts to take away my rights and to deny me basic human dignity.

Between Wednesday, November 26 and Saturday, December 27th, we will have an amazing opportunity to changes the hearts and minds of friends and family who will be able to help us defeat upcoming anti-LGBT amendments.

And most importantly, we have to come out of the closet and be open and honest about who we are. We cannot expect others to treat us with dignity and respect if we are unwilling to demand that dignity and respect.

I understand that for some of us issues like age, economic status, HIV status etc can make it extremely difficult to come out, but far too many of us live lives in gilded closets waiting for others to win our civil rights. We are fighting for our lives and we need your help!

The passage of Prop. 8 and the other anti-gay policies that have passed in recent years are but a hiccup in our fight for LGBT civil rights. Within days of our loss, we turned from sorrow to outrage. We are coming back stronger, harder and hopefully smarter than ever.

This our moment. This is our time. And, we should never give up!

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Hey, if people are pissed and energized enough.....why not a national GLBt strike? For two days no LGBt person works or buys a damn thing..if you want to make a point about economic realities and who's being screwed this would do it.

How about it HRC?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 9:58 AM

I love your passion, but the reality is that boycotts seldom work. Something else that engages people and shows our numbers needs to be figure out.

Well, and quite a few of us can't afford to take two days off of work without pay. :( It's doomed to failure just because the most vulnerable of us can't participate.

Jill Johnson-Young | November 14, 2008 11:38 PM

It's set for 12/5/08 already. We disappear with our time, talents, and money..."A Day Without Gays."
Riverside CA

Skip the turkey this year unless your family is already accepting. It will turn into an argument expecially if they are religious. Stay with Facebook and your local LGBT protest groups for moral support. They are now your real family.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 10:10 AM

We can't hide online if we want to achieve full equality. We need to be out and open talking to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers about our lives.

It's not about gaining approval. This is about fighting for and keeping civil rights for 18,000 married gay couples in California, 12,000 in Massachuttes, and numbers are adding up in Conneticut. Probably 50,000 married by Jan. 1st. That's 100,000 people not getting 1,138 Federal benefits allowed to straight couples. Many straights don't get it because it doesn't pertain to their lives. Ellen had to call the "View" to explain that they were all wrong about the issue. NoOnProp8 and other groups failed to educate on the issues. A defenseless young LGBT just coming out to the family over the holidays doesn't yet have the talking points. How could they defend against the teachings of the church their family hears every Sunday ? They may just come away from the family gathering even more depressed with a sense of defeat.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 11:56 AM

I am not talking about gaining approval. I am talking about exactly the same thing you are: getting and keeping civil rights for LGBT people.

In order to do that we will have to increase our base of support and educate people about our lives.

One of the things that the "out in their faces" protests do is to dispel the myth, nurtured by years of negotiating and compromising rights to get "the best that we can, " crumbs that we quietly plead for and greatfully accept from the hands of the oppressors whose jackboot is firmly affixed to our necks as we take the small morsel; the myth that we are docile, quiet, and without the backbone to lead a cultural revolution on the streets.

Suprise, Christian Right! We still do have the spirit of Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera in our ranks. We are done with medicating ourselves with the opiate of "incrementalism" or compromise.

All of us, all of our rights, and NOW, thank you!

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 9:53 AM


I saw the new movie Milk about Harvey's life. It is an amazing and inspiring film. I will be writing about it soon.

"We are done with medicating ourselves with the opiate of "incrementalism" or compromise."

Words to live by, for all of us.

You are my hero.

Please publicize any events in the D.C. area.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 12:01 PM


I live in DC and will be posting about the upcoming march that will be on Saturday at 1:30 beginning at the Reflecting pool near the Capitol Building.

More details are here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=47698021210

You can also join the DC for Marriage Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/DC-for-Marriage/42377064318?ref=ts

Michael, while I agree on the worth of a "50 state strategy", I think that it must take into account that not all GLBT communities in all states are at the same place in our journey. Along the coasts, mostly, the marriage equality ship has either arrived in the harbor (Massachussets, Connecticut) although the dis-embarking process has been jeopardized (Prop 8 in California). In others the pros and cons of civil unions vs. full marriage equality are taking place. Elsewhere, in too many places, the boat has either been sunk by a "Marriage Protection Amendment" and the name of the game is perhaps long and arduous salvage before proceeding. Somewhere in the middle is the situation I experience in my own state (Indiana), where we've successfully beaten back such an amendment but antigay forces will surely ressurrect it. So in my state, at least, anything approaching pro-active marriage equality legislation (by whatever name) may be a number of sailing days/weeks/years away.

I'm particularly concerned over the near-demonization of civil unions that may be laudable and make perfect sense in one place but which would be detrimental where the name of the game is at present is to simply pry the door back open or to keep it from slamming shut on even the most modest of marriage equality measures. While there may be cogent arguments that as in the racial area, "separate but equal is not equal", in some states at some time there may have to be a tough choice when one is within reach but the other remains much further away. I'm concerned about the ability to just preserve the ability to have that discussion.

The voices of protest an energizing and have their proper role. But so does careful reflection, not as a diversionary drag on the inevitable movement forward, but as an ever-vigelent check on the seaworthiness of the compass.

I'm completely done listening to the voices of the self proclaimed moderates that always caution us about asking too much or going too far that seek to make us live incrementally.

After the last 18 months of Obama-mania where far too many homos spent all their time, money and energy (Mr. Crawford) focused on the Presidential election, the last thing we need RIGHT NOW is more restraint coming from those same weak willed compromisers of equality.

The NO on 8 campaign was run by a bunch of know it all over educated focus group fanatics that wouldn't know passion or intensity if it bit them on the ass and we paid for it.

Keep you calming words of (supposed) reason and prudence to yourself, please. The election was only 10 days ago. We can worm our way back into being hand wringers and fools sometime in 2009 when it is time to convince ourselves to shut our mouths again before the next election in order to not embarrass the Democrats.

For now it is time to scream our bloody MFing heads off and inspire each other and stop being patient and timid.

You can stay home and strategize, Don. I'm sick to death of waiting for the "smart" people to save the day. Go hug a Democrat.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 5:19 PM


You outrage is adorable. Now do something other than just attack people.

I am not a "weak willed compromisers of equality." I just have little patience for the bitter, holier than thou leftist rantings of some supposed radicals.

Deal with the fact that different people have different ways of fighting for LGBT equality.

I am not asking you to believe what I believe and you shouldn't expect me to believe what you believe. The only thing matters is that we are both committed to full equality for LGBT people.

BTW, I considered every minute and every dollar that I invested in helping to make Barack Obama the first African-American president in history well worth it.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 5:11 PM


My thinking about a 50 state strategy is not focused exclusively on marriage. I recognize that states are at different places and that different strategies and tactics are needed.

My point is more about providing staff, training and financial resources to state groups so that we can help them to better reach their goals.

At HRC, a key focus of mine was working with state groups to advance their legislative agendas.

I will be writing more about what a 50 state strategy for LGBT equality could look like.

I'm headed to Utah for Christmas. And I'm taking the pledge, Michael. Please pray for us! Seriously!

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 2:55 PM

I have been to Salt Lake City. There were lots of cute gay boys.

One word, Michael: amen.

I just want to give a shout out to the wonderful signs in the pic in this blog post. Love it!!

Oh, and I want some magic undies, please :)

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 13, 2008 4:40 PM

Michael -- we're not waiting until the holidays. We're dealing with it now in our family circles. No need to wait 'til the turkey's served. Your relatives might even be grateful you're not dumping on Aunt Tilly in a manner that could cause her to heave on the candied yams. Do it early and give everyone some time to process.

And, Charles, you're right. People should make sure they have all the proper data and emotional support they need lined up before dealing with the ignorant and unprepared to love well. But they don't have to have all the answers. The truth of their own lives is a powerful thing if they're able to handle the consequences of telling it. Referrals to expert data can always come later.

As for infrastructure and movement building, as folks facing oral arguments with the Iowa Supremes in December and having just gotten hold of an embargoed release from the Des Moines Catholic Diocese that puts gaining a marriage ban amendment at the top of their legislative agenda for the upcoming session, we'd like to assure you we're swimming as fast upstream as we can -- but that the current here is swift and the rocks many and sharp. As Bette would say, "It's going to be a bumpy ride."

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 13, 2008 5:41 PM


I didn't say that people should wait for the holidays. Everyone should go for it when ready.

I do think that the holidays offer a good time when people are together to have the conversation.