Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Is It Time To Rise Up Yet?

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | May 15, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, HIV/AIDS, LGBT civil rights, marriage equality

The LGBT civil rights movement is in disarray.HarveyMilk.jpg

We must live in shame and secrecy to serve the country we love, but which seems to hate and despise us.

Is it time to rise up yet?

AIDS funding has dropped, leaving thousands of our sick and dying in crisis.

Is it time to rise up yet?

We are denied the simple right to get and keep a job free from harassment.

Is it time to rise up yet?

Our youth are prey to an epidemic of homelessness and suicide.

Is it time to rise up yet?

The marriage equality movement has been stopped, and DOMA still rules the land.

Is it time to rise up yet?

Many of our leaders have called for this to be a week of protest, culminating with Harvey Milk Day on Saturday, May 22. Harvey was born on that day, but he wasn't born to be a national symbol. He became one because he stood up for himself and his community.

Will you tell them you reject their prejudice? A list of local protest activities after the jump. Rise up!

Larry Kramer issued a clarion call this week when he said:

I beg of us all. Re-assemble! Re-unite! Fight back once more with the passion and honor and truth and unity and brotherhood as we once did. We once accomplished miracles. Why do we not recall our glorious fights and build anew upon them? They treat us like shit because we let them treat us like shit. When will we get that into our heads and hearts and fight back?

If you want to pretend we're equal, or that making progress incrementally after 40 years of a movement is sufficient, fine. I'm glad your life is working for you. But I'm with Larry Kramer.

These activities have various primary causes, but their underlying root is the same:


Check Equality Across America'[s website for a list of local actions. Also look at the sidebar, which has a number of actions not on the main list. Facebook's Harvey Milk Day Actions Page also has some actions listed that aren't yet on EAA's page.

There are actions in many major cities, including places where you might not expect them, such as Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and New Mexico.

Some of these actions may be small, but in combination with others around the nation, they combine to make a larger statement.

In New York City, where a crowd of 100 gathers every few minutes at major bus stops, we don't expect more than a few hundred for our Harvey Milk Day March on Saturday the 22nd. But I'm going because it's not about being at an "event." It's about my need to speak up against homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination, and for civil rights like ENDA. (Click here to send letters to your Congressmembers with one click.

Get out into your community and rise up!

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great post.....

LGBT people are not going to "rise up" and "protest" or "demand" because we've GROWN UP. It's 2010. The world has changed.

Larry Kramer, David Mixner and others in the "business" of LGBT "advocacy" have nothing to offer but "keep on fighting." It is foolish. We are much smarter than simply complaining, and demanding and shouting.

This pre-arranged "call-to-action" is part of the GetEqual strategy of starting a movement based on anger, demands and inconveniencing people. It has been a complete failure. It has been a waste of $500,000 from Jonathan Lewis (Progressive Insurance). After the first few childish stunts, most have gone un-noticed.

Because these "childish, stupid" publicity stunts DO NOT change any minds. They DO NOT create any sympathy or support. But, Kramer, Mixner and others are simply stuck in the Past. This isn't an effort to win - because these efforts don't change any minds - they are simply trying to continue to romanticize the idea of being an activist. It is very easy to complain in the streets and make "empty demands," especially while your fellow protesters are patting you on the back. GetEqual has become a carnival "side-show" keeping us guessing "what stupid stunt is next?" It is embarrassing.

Wake up - these so called "direct actions" are NOT helpful. Nobody cares if YOU are angry. Nobody will change their minds because YOU are angry. ANGER isn't enough - we need SMART. We need to figure out how to get people to join us, NOT avoid us.

The GetEqual strategy of demanding (while hoping to make the news) is fading even faster than Equality-Across-America and Join-The-Impact. This isn't your Grandfather's America. Robin and Kip (and others) who think "bitching" or "slapping people in the face" is effective need to grow up. We suffer disappointment all the time - we get discouraged - but, crying like babies doesn't create any progress. GetEqual will be out of business by July.

It's a shame to see the silly waste of a half a million dollars, but maybe people are finally understanding why these self-serving "activists" are not helping our movement. The evidence is NOBODY is participating and NOBODY is contributing.

We've grown up. We know we need to be smarter, not louder. Kramer and Mixner should either grow up (too) - or shut up.

Jennifer B | May 15, 2010 8:38 PM

@Andrew your way off base my "couch" activist friend. Could you please share with me your thoughts of wisdom and how over the last several years you have contributed at all to the movement?
I will give you a few minutes to catch up with the rest of us that are living and fighting for equality in 2010.
Your use of the term "stupid" in every other sentence only speaks of your lack of GLBT history and what social justice movements are/mean (not to mention the need for a dictionary). The only thing embarrassing are ignorant self righteous individuals such as yourself posing as caring members of the GLBT community. The self hate display with a side of hate for the world around you is counter productive and honestly very sad. It is my hope that members of the community such as yourself can decide once and for all to get off the couch and actually do something for a change. We do not need anymore Sunday afternoon couch quarterbacks my dear. Get in the game. I welcome you to join me, I have been fighting for 20 years and I will fight another 20 years for all of us.

@ Andrew...
Crap, why don’t you just come out and say it?

“You will be assimilated”

Since no one else seems to be willing, I'll be the bad girl and say it.

Andrew, how long have you worked for the people who are seeking to deny us access to our rights?

No, really. Your posts are like a textbook example of fifth column efforts.

Probably a DNC insider. The problem for the DNC with direct action is that it calls out the Democrats on the fact of their own hypocrisy, and they're starting to get angry that we're succeeding at actually capturing the attention of the public here and their to the fact.

Predictably, it's much easier for you to be paranoid than to simply provide some evidence that "protesting" and complaining are effective.

Those of you promoting this so-called "rising up" need to provide some rationale for these self-serving publicity stunts. Tell us HOW they create support for our efforts. Tell us HOW they change minds?

Yet I have.

And, in the process, I've asked you several questions.

So, apparently, what I'm left with is the knowledge that they do work, and that you consider me nobody and no one, and that you are hell bent on a consistent effort to demonize something that has, ultimately, allowed you to have the opportunity to be here and say the same things over and over again, ignoring previous history and commentary.

No, you haven't. Feel free to use this opportunity.

Tell us HOW these "demands" or publicity stunts create support for our efforts. Tell us HOW high-profile complaining changes minds?

Does anyone know if the Family Research Council pays with check or with cash?

Damn Jillian, you're starting to sound like...well, um...me.

I totally agree with you on every point and it's long overdue. I'm not a big Larry Kramer fan, but he hits this one right on the money: They treat us like shit because we let them treat us like shit.

Have we finally had enough? I certainly hope so.

The problem with Kramer's appeal is who is he referring to as "they?" His quote:

"They treat us like shit because we let them treat us like shit. When will we get that into our heads and hearts and fight back?"

All of the the data and research I have acquired suggests that the "they" is about one-third of the adult American population. It's not ALL of our fellow citizens - it's a minority. The world isn't against us - please stop pissing on everybody.

When you engage in childish acts of anger and self-serving displays of "fighting back" you are targeting everybody. You are offending and/or dismissing the two-thirds that WILL support us. None of these displays of anger and self-aggrandizing "publicity stunts" inspire the majority of Americans to support us and join our fight for equality.

During the last few months I have asked ANYONE that promotes these "direct action publicity stunts" to demonstrate HOW these stunts and expressions of anger against "them" actually change any minds. Kramer didn't suggest how that happens. He's just doing the same thing he's been doing for decades - that doesn't make it effective.

Many of you continue to refuse to accept the basic principle of accountability. If these stunts are effective please provide the rationale. Please provide some kind of logic or compelling evidence that if we just protest enough we'll create more support.

I do not need to compare my investment in our struggle with anyone. I am doing what has never been done before - figuring out how to win and paying for it. That's my contribution. Because it is an investment, I think it is necessary to hold every tactic, strategy, method and organization accountable. Anyone who cares about our success would do the same. We should spend our time, our money and our passion on methods that actually work.

If you still want to support Kramer-Mixner calls to "fight," ask yourselves WHY these "calls to action" and the accompanying publicity stunts have been IGNORED? Why isn't our community responding? Why is GetEqual not only laughed at, but ignored by the media?

All I can ask you to do is think about it. Think about WHY we continue to focus all of our attention on "they" (the ones that disagree with us) and nothing on the two-thirds that would join us? We don't need to fight, we need to enroll people. We need to become a strong majority (for equality) instead of a weak, angry, frustrated and aimless minority. We don't need to "assimilate," we need to get people to stand with us no matter what our colorful differences are.

It is easy to complain. It is easy to protest. It is easy to "rise up." It's a lot harder to change minds. But, until we do, we will fight a winless battle. 50 years is enough. Stop fighting and start thinking. We are much better than marching around complaining or trying to irritate people. We are smart enough and creative enough to actually WIN.

I am preparing to win, not fight.

If it was only a small minority working against queer people, their status as human beings would've been voted away in a referendum years ago.

You have to look at it on a State by State basis. But, nationally it less than one-third that are against us. I suggest we ignore them. They are all about fighting, too. If we are about winning, we need to focus on the two-thirds that support us.

That's not a fight. They'll join us, but we have to ask them. That's takes effort. Complaining does not.

How many times have others countered these shallow arguments of yours, here and elsewhere? Seriously, who is paying you to spam these boards, and how much? Or are you playing the part of brick wall for free?

Nobody ever has. Do you want to be first?

Dispute the facts Jamie. Use math. Make your case fro public displays of anger and frustration. Tell us all how this helps us.

It's important.

The case has been made on this blog, over and over and over again. Simply adding words like "math" and "facts" to your retorts in such a trite and meaningless way doesn't help YOUR case any. I know truthiness when I see it.

I submit Kent State University Massacre and Rosa Parks. Both succeded, but only because the other side overreacted, generating sympathy for the people being civil disobedient, and then, only by people away from the action. No overreaction, no positive results.


Jamie helps prove the point that most "activists" and "advocates" for LGBT Equality cannot provide any evidence or common sense for so-called "direct actions." Without any proof they ignorantly promote their use - without reason.

It's very easy to see why we are failing - people don't care enough to care about what actually is effective.

That will be fixed soon.

Perhaps some have decades to wait on the change being done one step at a time, to be grown like grass from the roots. Some however feel it is time to place the argument before everyone. To call them out and see if the words this country was founded on such as equality are true for all, or just some. I am for calling them out on it myself. I do not think I wish to wait in the hope the next generation to be in power to be considered equal under the law. ENDA needs to be passed now, not two, three or four congresses in the future. For us to take the slow route might get us there in time, might help with general acceptance, but likely not while most of us are still drawing breath to see it. There will always be some who no matter what will never be swayed to believe those in the LGBT community are anything other than perverts unworthy of any regard. Until we make the argument that we are people and worthy of the same treatment as anyone else, then hopefully the majority will support equality for us. I know in talking to several people myself most are unaware that we are considered outside the protection in regard to employment. So the truth is we are not getting the message out on the grassroots idea anyway.

The opposite of "stupid, childish publicity stunts" isn't "waiting," as you've suggested - it's thinking and then investing in something that actually works.

We win by getting people to join us, not laugh at us or avoid us.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 16, 2010 11:16 AM

This is far and away Jillian Weiss' best post to date.

And the answer to the question is this: the time for mass actions and direct actions is long overdue.

The first step is breaking out of the last closet, the Democrat Party.

It's past time. Well past time.

Yes everyone it is time to rise up and get with the program. Suck in your bellies for those of us who have grown complacent. Take the time to go before your city counsels and County Commissioners asking that they join your efforts for repealing DADT, DOMA, and all like efforts to make and keep us as less than equal in our civil rights. Am I mad that we are in disarray more saddened that we must live in shame and secrecy to serve the country we love. We may have grown up as someone has suggested but grown up does not meant that we have to roll with the punches to keep us down. Like it or not the right wing has had the advantage of knowing that 85% of us would rather be left in our own small closet no matter how much we deny this and say that we are out and proud please consider the we all need more than a parade in a large city once a year. We need the small communities to join our forces.

"We win by getting people to join us, not laugh at us or avoid us."

The protests in question do neither. Lt. Dan Choi has had more interviews, not fewer, since his participation. There's simply no evidence of avoidance.

But I take even greater exception to the assumption behind this statement. You seem to believe that everything will be all rosy when the populace mostly actually believes in our rights.

That idea is disproven by recent evidence. 75% of the American public believes in DADT repeal, but our legislators do nothing, our President does nothing. Politicans can only get away with working against popular belief because the majority doesn't understand that the President is lying to us. The popular media won't give us fair coverage, so people can't hear this fact.

Protests are in part a way of calling attention to facts like these. They are also a way of pushing politicians to work, relunctantly, with mainstream rights organizations, a "good cop, bad cop" strategy that was successful in every rights battle from the suffrage movement to ACT UP to the Civil Rights Era. The current protest efforts are too feeble yet to be, but with continued energy they will gain in size, this too is demonstrated time again by history.

I am tired as Hell of the usual victim-blaming, hypocritical tone argument. Stop it. I understand that it's typical American politics to focus on the tone argument, after all, the Pearls Won't Clutch Themselves ( http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2009/08/those-pearls-wont-clutch-themselves.html ), but there comes a time where silence is betrayal ( http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html ), there comes a time where a lie must be called a lie.

The idea that our President is telling us the truth about his intentions for my basic human rights is long past feasibility. He is a liar, and those who deny it or would have us continue to hide that fact are suspect as well.

Stop it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 16, 2010 2:22 PM

Obama lied from day one.

His campaign was organized to appeal to the bigot vote and in the last days dropped the bomb - "gawd's in the mix" - it tore up our chances of preserving marriage in California. All that, plus McClurkin, Warren and cutting us out of the Democrat platform happened before the election. And in spite of all that some GLBT Democrats still urged us to vote for him.

So far he's been a perfect clone of Bill Clinton who gave us DADT and DOMA. We're not talking about mindless sturmtruppen like Huckabee and Palin. Clinton like Obama, is a highly trained constitutional lawyer. A non-inhaling Rhodes Scholar, Clinton knew exactly what he was doing with DADT and DOMA. So does Obama with his repeated and consciously bigoted defenses of Clinton's DADT and DOMA in the courts.

Our attitude towards the Clintons and Obama has to be "no excuses, no forgiveness". We've had enough betrayals to last a life time and he's only been in office a couple of years.

People used to hope that Obama would pay more attention to us. Let's hope he doesn't. We have sufficient collective scar tissue on our back as it is.

If you want to advance the fight step out of the last closet, the political closet. The air's fine out here. You'll enjoy it after the stench you've been subjected yourself to in the Democrats closet.

I'm sorry Joe, but look it up. Dan Choi's first stunt was barely covered and then each subsequent stunt was covered less and now GetEqual is being ignored.

Their latest stunt "Dump-the-Pump" protest against Exxon was covered by Dallas Voice and Bilerico - except for Queerty making fun of it.

We DON'T need attention - everyone knows. We need people to join us and support our efforts. Please explain how high-profile-complaining adds supporters or changes any minds.

It's not the 1960s and we're not Black or Women. The circumstances are different, the problem is different and the World is different.

We have made progress in recent years. It is being jeopardized by "childish, immature" publicity stunts that don't help us. It's very easy to be angry and complain, it's a lot more difficult to actually accomplish something.

Bitching is not a strategy.

"75% of the American public believes in DADT repeal, but our legislators do nothing, our President does nothing."

- Joe Decker

You do know we have 100 US Senators (2 per State) and each State has it's own polling data. Each Senator votes based primarily on the beliefs of their constituents. You know this, right?

Andrew, have you talked to anyone who protested during the Civil Rights/Vietnam War Era? I recently heard a conversation between Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman about Vietnam War protests in 1965 and Chomsky talked about how teeny they were. Pitiful, in fact. There were many people who refused to give up their seat, before Rosa Parks. There were civil rights protests in the 1920s. Many civil rights moves alienated and infuriated Democratic Party insiders. The instances are too numerous to cite here, but the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party comes to mind as one example.

Your argument that we are in a brand-new era therefore historical arguments are irrelevant is illogical on its face. If this is such a brand-new era then ALL of our strategies will, by nature, be innovative and the "evidence" will be hard to come by. We won't know until we actually try some things. But the historical evidence is a good guide and starting point. And it can tell us some things about how to measure success--such as the fact that pitiful Vietnam War protests began in 1965 but did not reach fever pitch until later is, then, relevant.

The 1980s were not the 1960s, and yet the ACT UP model was effective for some things. And this was in an era when homosexuals were despised far more than they are now. Yes, we need to look at specific historic contexts and mindlessly copying the Civil Rights model leads us into some traps. I get that, and accept that critique. But one thing that unites the eras, however, is the confrontation/disruption tactic--adapted to the circumstances of the era so that the disruption is effective. You seem opposed not only to things that are ineffective, but those that disrupt and make kingmakers uncomfortable. I vehemently disagree with your political posture. Disruption is essential to "getting things done."

"Bitching is not a strategy."

And yet this is all you're doing about those who are actually putting their bodies on the line for our rights. The people here are using history as a guide for action. What's your model? What kind of evidence would be acceptable? I am loathe to demand that people who are making an argument confess what "they are doing" for the movement because I don't know you, and for all I know you could volunteer all your free time to gay causes. But you are demanding evidence from people and not presenting any of your own or an alternative model.

What happened to Dr. Jillian Weiss' article on it being time to rise up? As far as I can see it calls for multi-headed direct action in a positive way. At least this is how I read it. While it doesn't give examples of how...we are mature enough to figure that out for ourselves. We can be effectively creative so just think about this for awhile. This arguing and going on and on is getting trite and being simply reduced to personal diatirbes among all of us. I can imagine that the Religious Right is laughing their collective asses off as we simply waist our energy trying to slap each other a little harder with each comment. This is a disservice to the ideals of BILERICO. Bill and Alex jump in here at any time and stop all this useless fussing and fuming. It is not supporting Dr. Weiss' thesis on passing legislation for our issues. Our youth in trying to come to terms with their sexual orientation are committing suicide daily as they attempt to be the new generation to follow the boomers. funding is getting cut to shreds for our sick and ill. We learn that our President lied to get elected. What else is new this is simply the way of politics it seems. Yet who else could we have turned to at that moment in time? Was our future president during the election simply naive in what he could deliver? We learn it seems that Barrack Obama has no intentions of asking for a repeal of DADT in the Military Readiness Appropriations Bill soon to be delivered to Congress. We daily hear that the "Tea Party" while outwardly protesting are at the same time organizing to defeat the congress that we have placed all our eggs in one basket for in idle hope of success. Protest fine, Act up fine, yell and scream, that is fine, while it is pointed at the 1/3 who would rather have us dead that gaining any civil rights. Yes we need the 2/3 silent majority who would support us in a positive way given the chance.

Yesterday I saw a better example of collective togetherness in a swarm of Honey Bees just looking for their next new home as they raced to follow their queen landing on a branch of my fruit tree right here in my garden; more so than I have seen in the comments to her article can we get back to the basics please.

BrianQTD said:

" . . . about those who are actually putting their bodies on the line for our rights.

See, this is the problem. Of course we learn from history, but "putting their bodies on the line?" That's absurd. Childish, in fact. Any idiot can handcuff themselves to the White House fence and get a citation. A sit-in is very dangerous, right? These are stunts to get attention, nothing else. Don't demean real activists.

I asked about the simple concept of "demanding." Provide some rationale for this silly idea that "all we have to do is demand."

I am willing to support any tactic that can demonstrate it is effective. If not, it should be shut down. I think the community has effectively shut down GetEqual because they are embarrassing and ineffective. Until they are able to show some rationale for publicity seeking, they should try to figure out how to win, not just complain.

Our equality is important.

Our Movement is important.

This most recent exchange failed to provide any evidence or even rationale for "public displays of frustration" or "demanding." Not a single comment has addressed the issue of HOW these stunts CHANGE MINDS. That's because they DON'T.

That's how we keep score - how many people support us and join us. Not how many times self-important "activists" are mentioned on TV or online.

Is it possible that the movement is losing steam because it has taken such a hard right turn in the last 10 years, which has alienated radicals and progressives, who might be the faction with more fire?

I can tell you that's what happened to MY passion, so maybe I'm not alone. I am against marriage and the military, so I'm sure as hell not gonna go out in the streets and demand access to them.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 17, 2010 2:44 PM

The 'movement' as a whole hasn't taken a hard right turn. It suffered heavily from demoralization because of Clinton's DOMA and Bush's extension of DOMA's into roughly 40 states. Obama's open contempt for us is a further great disappoint for the naive.

In response a part of the movement buried themselves in the parties of Obama and McCain, hoping that slavish support for them and their wars, union busting and handouts to the rich would convince them to support us. Of course, the opposite happened. We were taken for granted and tossed under the bus - over and over and over.

DADT is a Clinton monstrosity that creates and sustains violence, harassment and discrimination. It should be opposed on that basis alone. At the same time we have to oppose Obama's genocidal wars, cement alliances with the GI and civilian antiwar movements and combat the rancid concept of supporting 'national security' as a reason for ending DADT.

Don't enlist. Don't fight. Don't translate.

SSM is different. The concept of marriage is changing and no longer defined by gynephobes and christian cultists. You don't have to approve of the history of marriage or its role in the oppression of women, children, and etc. to support the right of people who want the tax advantages and recognition of marriage.

I think marriage is silly and backward because it ties people down but it people want it, and huge numbers do, then I'll support them. They can always get divorced. At least the ambulance chasers will be happy.

Marriage may not be "defined by gynephobes and christian cultists" but it is still very much the state's way of favoring a certain kind of family over others. I got into the gay rights movement because I didn't want the government to tell me who I should be intimately involved with and who my family should consist of. I still don't.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 17, 2010 6:41 PM

I'm not getting married either.

But not for that reason.

With the legality of SSM marriage will have qualitatively evolved.

I just think it's silly to limit yoursef.

What Steven said, plus the fact that there are plenty of reasons people should have taken to the street these past 10 years when they didn't. People have changed.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 17, 2010 4:16 PM

That's true. People are always entering the movement from stage left and exiting it stage right.

It's the proportions that count.

During the Clinton-Bush regimes we lost activists. So did unions and the antiwar movement. Under the onslaught of Obama's betrayals of LGBT folks, the economic crash, Obama's war escalation and the passage of Prop 8 more far more are entering than leaving.

The horizon doesn't look rosy or pink. It looks red.

People have changed.
The World has changed.
Communication has changed.

The sooner we appreciate that fact, the sooner we'll respond with a way to win. Not old, tired tactics, but something innovative and verifiable.

Many people left the movement because of frustration. When they see a path to victory, many will return.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 17, 2010 6:37 PM

Oh my gawd. Sweet jebuz. Now I see the light.

I've already sunk half a million of my own funds into research on 21st century ways to communicate.

Andrew, could you loan me a few hundred thousand? I'm sure I could have a verifiable, accountable answer on your desk within five years or so.

I fear that your research may take a little longer.

Sorry Bill. It needs to be within two years.

If you have a way to get us there in just two years, I'd be glad to fund that.