The linked blog post is by someone I follow on Twitter, and if you have been reading my blog, you won’t be surprised that I’m not very enthusiastic about the timing of the National March on Washington.  Here is my reply to his blog post:

Your blog post typifies what is so wrong about the timing and priorities for the March. “We need a National front…” and you honestly believe that a march will accomplish that?

Real change is needed in the political arena to be sure, but that will happen only when gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight people reach out to their elected officials – at all levels of government and demand that change directly. Those Arkansas senators and representatives aren’t changing their minds to support federal legislation just because a bunch of gays and lesbians, who have enough cash to get to Washington decided to have a March.

The GLBTQ communities make up about 10% of the population of the US, giver or take some. Not nearly enough on our own to simply demand change. All the time, talent, energy and resources currently going into a March would be better spent building strong bridges within al sorts of communities, including straight progressives, because until we have enough people actively calling for change, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN, we will continue to be frustrated at the amount of progress,

There is also something fundamentally flawed in the thinking that changes at the Federal level will make everything OK. Not to mention that this seems to be thoughts totally void of any recognition of the current state of Washington politics and the national political climate.

The March can definitely be a useful tool and have positive benefit, but be clear about what that can be. It can help energize a younger generation of activists. It can give some media attention to the issues important to the GLBTQ community, and it can help many feel as if they are part of a larger unified movement. These are all good goals and useful to achieve. but a March isn’t going to change the day to day life of that transgender kid in Arkansas.

2010/2012, The National Equality March & LGBT Priorities. | jaysays.com |.

5 Comments

  1. @admin
    whoops… somehow put that in the wrong spot… I hope it’s obvious I wasn’t responding to myself.

  2. One area we can certainly agree is that we have to put more effort on building strong relationships with our straight allies and the full spectrum of LGBTQ. That’s been a pulpit point of mine for a long time. In fact, moments ago I launched my “everyone’s a freak to someone” campaign on jaysays. It’s small because I’m not wealthy, but it’s something and I’ll keep it going until I just can’t financially afford it anymore.

    That’s my theory about activism, no matter how big or how small, it’s something. Many of us in conservative environments feel hopeless trying to convince our representatives to support LGBTQ rights. I’m one of those people as Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Cornyn and Lamar Smith are my representatives. I can’t change their minds (and have I ever tried), but I can maybe change the minds of the people around me or inspire them to speak up if they are too afraid to do so… and maybe, just maybe, they won’t vote for such conservative zealots again.

    That is what the march is to me – inspiration. It gives those that don’t know what to do something to do, it encourages them to speak up and it has the potential to empower those that are in conservative areas to seek change. You can imagine how daunting it can be when those around you are afraid to march because they would lose their jobs, or worse, their life should people they know connect them with the word “gay” or “transgender.” Imagine, in a state where anyone can carry a concealed weapon, being out. Here in Texas, fear is often our worst enemy, particularly outside of the major cities, but even inside them as well.

    We have so many challenges and I do agree with you that the timing is all wrong for the march and that it could have been planned better, but it is here and I will not stand in the way of something that can, and likely will, make a difference. It’s counter-productive.

    If we change one person’s mind, if we recruit one more activist, if one more person speaks out – it’s worth it. Change happened.

    • I am so thrilled that you posted your reply to this thread! I wouldn’t be surprised if we found far more that we would agree with too, BTW.

      First, I want to comment about your statement about what the March means to you- inspiration. Said wonderfully, as long as those involved gain the strength to take that voice of their home and speak up at home after the march. That alone- being inspired, finding a voice and becoming empowered to share that voice is a tremendous potential outcome to the March. Fear is most often the worst enemy- not because it is potentially the most harmful enemy, but because it stifles us (all of us for whatever reason) and we are often afraid of everything rather than just those things that are really dangerous. Fear is so great we can’t tell the difference between a shadow in the dark and a real danger.

      Next, I have not written any of what I have written to “stand in the way” of the March. I do believe positive things can come of it, like potentially inspiration to use your words. IOn my post, I mention values that can come from the March. But that doesn’t change the fact that some California gays are pushing this. It isn’t an inclusive event, it wasn’t planned and developed with inclusivity in mind. It is poor timing, it does ignore the state of the national political arena. Nor is it respectful of the many battles happening across the country that need activists time and energy.

      My suggestion for those who really want to make change and make a difference, is to take a volunteer vacation to Maine. or Washington. Go there, join the campaigns to knock on doors and get votes to keep rights. To me Maine is the most visible battle field, but Washington is perhaps the most crucial. I don’t believe we can afford to lose either. It will set our movement back (no matter what GLBTQ rights you are talking about) back in a big way.

      Now, I want to address what you said about activism in Texas, and your inability to change your elected officials minds. Yes, Yes, Yes, you live in a state where the work is hard, hard, hard. That said, I don’t think it is a reasonable goal that you would be able to change a conservative’s mind on your own. In my opinion, a better goal for you is to change the minds of GLBTQ and supportive straights. You mission is to get them to talk to their elected officials. This works from the lowest level of city government on up, but I personally believe the biggest bang for the buck is gained by working at the state level. There, representatives (or whatever they are called for your state- state senators, et al) represent a distinct area and group of voters. If Representative ” A” gets a visit from a small group of people (gay and straight mixed) this week, and they talk about how critical equal rights are for all and ow protections for GLBTQ fit into that “all.” it may not change that representative’s mind. But imagine if the next week, and then the next, and then the next, different small groups of his/her constituents do the same. At each meeting, the group has two goals (in this order) 1) Listen to the representative to try and really understand their opposition to GLBTQ legislation/rights. 2) Share with the representative their personal stories and ideas, and frame the issue as how these rights are good for all the people of Texas (or whatever state).

      One meeting is not likely to change a person’s mind. but if there is an honest exchange happening, and you (the activists) are really listening to the rep, and dialoguing with him/or her, their views can change. Couple this with seeking to elect more open minded people.

      I was in a meeting with a state rep who was opposed to nondiscrimination protection. As we talked it became clear that he was afraid (fear is such a motivator) that if he voted for nondiscrimination, that it would pen a flood gate push for gay marriage in PA. Our goal in that meeting, then, was to help him see that these are two separate issues even if they both deal with gay people. Our goal was to build his trust in us, and our motives. Then, after the meeting, our goal was to find more of his constituents to send to see him, that would help continue this process of trust building, and personal story telling. We need him to recognize the impact of discrimination upon his constituents, and we need him to let go of the fears that stand in the way of him supporting this legislation.

      Two resources: 1) check out my PDF booklet “How to Lobby Your Elected Officials.” 2) Check out “Unite and Conquer by Kirsten Sinema. Awesome book, written by someone in a very conservative state.

  3. You are absolutely right that a march on Washington is not going to change the life of the transgender kid in Arkansas – with the exception that they may see us unified and working to help them instead of only seeing the marriage issue. All the publicity about marriage equality in “liberal” states isn’t helping that kid one bit. They feel left out, afraid and often as though they don’t really belong because “marriage” isn’t in their near future. I’ve talked to many gay youth about this and while they can be inspired by hate crimes, these state battles for marriage do nothing but make them feel even more alone. Here, we have something in which all LGBT people can be included – even if from a distance.

    I’m an advocate for marching on Jonesboro, Arkansas instead of Washington, DC – take the fight to where being fully out results in constant turmoil and degradation.

    In Texas, 76% of people voted for a marriage amendment (including anything “similar to” marriage) to the state constitution. The federal government will have to step in before same-sex couples have any legal standing in states like Texas… in fact, we may just have to have the National Guard like in Little Rock so many years ago.

    Going state by state forgets that some states would rather succeed than have equal status to LGBT couples, nationalized health care, or anything construed as “liberal.”

    • Thanks so much for adding your ideas to the blog here and for being part of a larger dialogue bout activism. I totally agree that “the Marriage Issue” has taken center stage, and a downside to that is that the full spectrum of rights that are needed by GLBTQ people everywhere are not getting the attention that they need. and, I hope you are right that a National March can be “something in which all LGBT people can be included – even if from a distance.” I think part of the success of that will be how the media coverage goes in addition to who will be given the camera time. For example, if there are no prominent TS folks who speak or who capture media attention; how with the B (of LGBT or GLBTQ) be represented; will there be adequate minority representation, or will this look like a white gay and lesbian event.

      I don’t agree with your assessment about going state by state. Yes, we will see progress at different levels and degrees of success, but that also aligns with the patterns that people in different states are at different levels of conservative and liberal.

      I think Abortion is an issue that demonstrates that merely having a federal law (upheld by the Supreme Court) doesn’t change the attitudes of people. When doctors who are acting fully within the law are gunned down in their church, there is a problem. No, while national legislation is useful, it alone won’t make the difference you and I can agree is needed.

      In other words, there is no quick fix to full equality. but there are paths to create progress, and that includes working at every level of government; building coalitions with other communities of folks who also support equal rights. This isn’t a Gay or straight thing, and affects us all; and continually striving for cultural change that both is fed by legislative change and pushes for legislative change.

      I do not believe anyone deserves the right to discriminate or treat others as second class citizens. At the same time, I recognize that to those who oppose equal rights for GLBTQ’s, see this as being forced upon them. That isn’t a strategy for success either as no one group will feel a part of the whole when they feel s if the agenda of the other is being forced upon them.

      From my perspective, hate crimes legislation, nondiscrimination protections and many things like overturning DADT should be at the top of anyone’s agenda for change. But the reality is that Marriage is a high profile issue and one of the current battle lines. With votes in Maine and Washington, we have two battles that the GLBTQ rights movements can not afford to lose. I hope the March is very successful, but I am of the camp, that next year was the right time for a National March and 100% of our efforts now should be going into fights within states, efforts to build strong coalitions with our straight allies as well as within the full spectrum of GLBTQ communities (including people of color) and efforts to raise awareness of the need for full equality.

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