martes, 30 de diciembre de 2008

Below is Queer Liberaction's response to Etta Zamboni's resignation-cum-diatribe rant. You can find it here.

Queer Liberaction Calls for Unity

Last week's letter to the editor of the Dallas voice by Etta Zamboni is a testament to how incredibly difficult it is to work with this individual if there is a difference of opinion. Instead of bowing out gracefully, in her resignation letter, Zamboni dedicates three quarters of it to accuse Gabe and myself of being mean-spirited.

The real issue is that Zamboni confuses questioning and criticism of political strategies as "full scale attacks". This was the first time Zamboni organized political events such as these, so to a certain degree we understand her sentiments. Unfortunately, the former Join the Impact Dallas representative has gotten so personally offended by this debate that it seems to have prevented her from having a respectful discussion as to the validity of one political tactic over another.

The bottom line is that there was no dialog between the previous leadership of Queer Liberaction and Join the Impact. Those organizing with Queer Liberaction are aware that our direct action, unapologetic and visible style of activism is a bit different than what some in Dallas are used to.

For example, Queer Liberaction is organizing the Dallas demonstration on the National Day of Protest Against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) set for Saturday, January 10. We will meet at 11:30 am at the Dallas Historical Plaza by the records building to unapologetically demand that the new administration repeals DOMA.

On Saturday, February 7 at 12:00 pm Queer Liberaction is staging a Queer Kiss-In at Ross and Harwood. We will be keeping true to our message that visibility is a very effective way to combat homophobia with boys kissing boys, girls kissing girls, other Queer public displays of affection and giving away "free Queer hugs".

QL is currently organizing a demonstration on the National Freedom to Marry Day, February 12 at 11:30 am, complete with a wedding ceremony and all! Same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses at the Records Building and if denied, a Queer sit-in will follow. Direct action can't be more direct than going to the marriage license department and demanding for our rights ourselves.

There will always be differences of opinion especially when dealing with a subject so powerful and able to evoke so much passion as our civil rights. QL believes that being out in the streets demanding our rights is what we so desperately need right now in the Queer community.

In the spirit of unity and to help rectify the lack of dialog we at QL would like to extend an invitation to any representative from any group to sit down and have a public conversation. We would like to talk to organizations like the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas or the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance who take a different approach to winning our equality. This invitation is open to all; churches, social organizations, political organizations that represent the gamut of political opinions, merchants associations, etc... To be apart of this or other Queer Liberaction events please contact us at

Blake Wilkinson and Gabe Coppinger
Queer Liberaction

martes, 23 de diciembre de 2008

The Queer Elite

The Dallas Voice's blog has a post with with a video where Kristin Chenoweth states her support for marriage equality. On the same day there is another post about Melissa Etheridge’s wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels, who is advocating civil unions instead of full marriage equality. What's more, Melissa Etheridge has recently had a very lovey-dovey meeting with Obama's anti-Gay pick for pastor of the presidential inauguration Rick Warren. Here is my short response.

How interesting. Apparently Queers can convince an Oklahoma Southern Baptist, Kristin Chenoweth, that we deserve the same treatment under the law as everyone else but we’re still having problems with elite Queers.

At least as far as I know Elton John, who also advocates civil unions, has never made such slimey comments such as those made by Etheridge when talking about how lovely Warren is. Through their support of back-of-the-bus civil unions it looks as though this bunch of homos is more eager to placate their friends in powerful positions rather than demand first class citizenship.

These people’s positions and statements remind me of Booker T Washington’s advocation of separate but “equal”. While we can look back upon history now and realize that this sort of treatment with minority groups is failed, Washington was too busy rubbing elbows with the Carnegies and Rockefellers to understand the importance of such issues. Your everyday African American or Gay feels the sting of inequality so much more than those that supposedly represent us in public.

In the end, sure, civil unions would be a huge step forward in getting our civil rights, but it would only be that, a step. The Gay and Lesbian civil rights movement has got to demand full equality and protection under the law, name included. Anything else would be selling ourselves short.

miércoles, 17 de diciembre de 2008

On The Dallas Voice's Blog, Instant Tea, there is a picture of an American flag with only two stars.  The two stars represent the two states where we have marriage equality, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The question was posed, "How long do you think it will take for the flag to have all 50 stars or how long do you think it will take Texas to get its star".  My response was as follows.  

Contrary to the popular notion that Queer people are on some kind of one way road to equality and that it is only a matter of time isn’t correct. History is marked with ups and downs regarding our and other’s civil rights.

Throughout McCarthy’s 1950’s a witch-hunt was carried out against Lesbian and Gays not only in the public, but the private sector as well. LGBT people were constantly being imprisoned and harassed by the police. The 1950’s were not happy times for the LGBT people.

With the end of McCarthyism in the 1960s things got a bit better for LGBTs. Although there had been Gay and Lesbian homophile activism during the 1950s and 60s, the Stonewall RIOTS gave birth to a more “radical” style activism which has waxed and waned during the past 40 years.

The point is that for the first time Gay Liberation thrust our plight into the public consciousness. In 1973 Gay Liberation did virtually overnight what the homophile movement had been trying to accomplish for nearly 2 decades; to remove homosexuality for the American Psychological Association’s list of mental disorders. Gays and Lesbians of the 1970s also enjoyed some of the first pro-Gay legislation to ever exist in the US. Sexuality was added to local human rights ordinances in various cities across the country.

The Weimar Republic that existed in Germany between the two world wars was one of the most pro-homosexual governments ever to exist until that time. Homosexuals enjoyed liberties during that time that don’t exist almost one hundred years on in many parts of the world today. I don’t have to remind you how that all changed in 1933. The same was true, but obviously to a much lesser extent, when Anita Bryant went around spewing her hate and lies and overturning prior gains the LGBT civil right’s movement had made. A very similar situation has and is happening with the issue of marriage equality in California with Prop 8 being the most recent development.

So a lot can happen in a very short amount of time either in the advancement or removal of civil rights. The opposite is true as well. Decade can pass without the slightest amount of change.

The key though is that when a group starts to make a bunch of noise, kick up some dust, and get their message out in a very visible and clever way change happens. It doesn’t matter if those that are being visible and clever are Nazis, Anita Bryant, members of the Gay Liberation Front, or Queers today. The same rule applies. It’s a battle of ideas. So if we hope to make any progress in terms of our civil rights sooner rather than later, if we want to see all 50 stars on that marriage equality flag, then we have got to get out and make some noise and kick up some dust.

jueves, 11 de diciembre de 2008


Last night on a cold December night, Queer Liberaction staged it's first demonstration as a newly formed group.  The event was true to the group's position supporting visible direct action style activism.

As rush hour traffic went by, about 25 of us had the opportunity to show thousands of people our signs with our message of "Gay Rights Are Human Rights".   We were also able to speak to the Dallas Morning News and Univision.  The Dallas Voice didn't send anyone but I talked to them over the phone and sent them a photo so I'm expecting a story in tomorrow's edition.  

Univision was at the Mormon bookstore demonstration and I'm happy that they were at our event last night.  A little birdy told me that Jesse Garcia, former president of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats, was concerned that demonstrating a church with a large Latino congregation would pit Gays against Latinos.  This response from Garcia seems to typify statements from the HRC, Stonewall Dem types.  These messages might at first sound rational but if you scratch the surface they are baseless and without merit.  

Many Latinos in the US know very well what it is like to live without the rights that everyone else has and because of this our pro-equality message should be an easy sell.  However, 53% of Latinos voted in favor of Prop 8.  This would suggest that it is very important to have conversations with this disenfranchised group of people.  

One very effective and powerful way to do this is by doing what we did last night at the Cathedral of Guadalupe.  All of our signs and literature were in English and Spanish.  Univision covered the event and for those that understand Spanish you can see their report here.   Gliff Garinn from Dignity Dallas made the connection on Univision that Human Rights are not just for Gays and Lesbians but for everyone, Latinos included.  

As was with the Mormon Bookstore our aim was not to attack customers or people going to the church, but the Church's leadership.  It was the head honchos sitting on their gilded thrones in the Vatican who propagated the most recent attack against Gays and Lesbians.  By having Dignity Dallas present and through our literature we were encouraging everyone to question the homophobic positions of the Church.  It seems a monumental task but this is ultimately what will secure our liberation from homophobia.  Our goal is to make homophobia so rancid and unpopular that even the Pope himself wouldn't dare to oppose decriminalization of LGBT people for fear of losing his flock.

lunes, 8 de diciembre de 2008

Careers Before Queers

The Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance has taken the position that it is not going to endorse the Cinemark demonstration that is set for this coming weekend.  It is unfortunate that the leading Queer organization in Collin County is not supporting the effort to inform the public regarding the contribution made by the CEO of the Plano based movie chain.  Instead, they prefer to have a private sit down meeting with Cinemark executives regarding the bad behavior of their boss.  

In a recent Instant Tea posting Dallas Voice's John Write accurately notes the split that is widening ever so quickly within the LGBT community in the wake of Prop 8.  CCGLA appears to be in line with other LGBT organizations that prefer taking the discussion of our civil rights out of the public arena.  It seems as though some in the leadership of CCGLA also have important positions within the Cinemark corporation.  Protecting their company and bigoted boss from public criticism really embodies the careers before Queers mindset.  

Our goal for the event is to let as many people know about the $9,999 contribution that was made by Cinemark's CEO Alan Stock.  Our message will be that if you support equality and justice then you might not want to help line the pockets of a bigot such as Stock.  

This is how progress is made.  Maybe Cinemark's position on LGBT rights won't change.  Maybe Stock will make another donation to another hateful campaign, but I think that is highly unlikely given the hell he has caught from this issue.  But even if Cinemark doesn't adopt domestic partner benefits, for example, as a direct result of these demonstrations they will be far more likely to in the future when the issue resurfaces.  Other corporations and CEOs are paying very close attention to these goings on and any top executive would have to be pretty hell bent on gay oppression to fund something like Prop 8 in the future.  

So yes, the goal is to get Stock and Cinemark to change their ways but much more so is to subtly convince others to not go down that long and windy road of gay hate because your going to find a bunch of angry queers outside your business talking to the media about how Hate-mongers & Company Inc. oppresses gays.  But some in established gay organizations that have been built up over the past 15 years or so want to have conversations with CEOs and bookstore owners to tell them what they already know.  They read the paper.  They know our opinions, stances and demands.  I think Stock is pretty resolute in his contempt for Gay people given that he dontated $10 k to Prop 8.  Why then do some LGBT folks insist on sitting down and having tea with those that funded our oppression?

My guess would be that like most CEOs money figures pretty high on Stock's priority list.  I would even venture to guess that it takes a higher priority to Gay oppression.  If this is the case, talk to Stock's customers not to the man himself.   

domingo, 7 de diciembre de 2008

Queer Rights Are Human Rights


For the first time in history a resolution calling for civil rights for GLBT people is being proposed for the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The resolution will be presented on December 10, International Human Rights Day.  France which holds the rotating European Union presidency will present this historic resolution with the backing of all 27 member EU countries on the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Catholic Church recently has come out in opposition to this resolution.  The intent of the resolution is to assert the right of LGB people to live freely in a society without being criminalized due to their sexuality.  In over 80 countries worldwide same-sex relations are illegal with sentences ranging from imprisonment to execution.

The leadership of the Catholic Church has chosen to maintain bigoted positions regarding civil rights that were relegated to the dust bin of history generations ago.  Through opposition to this resolution the Catholic hierarchy is essentially giving the green light to the imprisonment and execution of Lesbian and Gay people.

It was not but 5 short years ago when same-sex sex was illegal in Texas.  Let's stand with out LGBT brothers and sisters across the world in affirming that our sexuality does not make us criminals.

International Human Rights Day
Wednesday, December 10 at 5:30 PM
Cathedral of Guadalupe
2215 Ross Ave. Dallas

lunes, 1 de diciembre de 2008

Sound and Sage Advice

Writers for the Dallas Voice's Blog, Instant Tea, have caught a lot of crap regarding a couple recent postings and rightfully so.  In John Wright's Nov 27 posting he continues his efforts to squelch independent direct action activism.  Dallas hasn't seen this type of activism since the late 80s and early 90s and it appears as though Wright would like to keep it that way.  

People left comments reminding Mr Wright that if it wasn't for this style of activism in the height of the AIDS outbreak "half of us wouldn't be here today".  Another comment reminds us that it was activism in the streets which brought grand-bigot Anita Bryant's hate train express to a grinding halt.  To put things into context others suggested that if Californian voters had brought back Jim Crow laws there would be riots in the streets.  Why then do a group of activists who want to have a peaceful demonstration to draw attention to an organization who was responsible for their rights being taken away receive such crummy treatment by its own local queer rag?  The posturing by some in regards to our demonstration in front of a Mormon bookstore reminds me of that limbo bar they used to bring out at the Whiterock skating rink when I was a kid, how low can you go.  

All I can say regarding the press release is that my out box shows it was sent to the editor of the Dallas Voice on Monday, November 24 at 3:58 PM.  In fact I called the Dallas Voice prior to sending them the press release to verify that I had the correct e-mail address.  After my only post saying that I had sent the release I got an e-mail from Tammye telling me that they never received the release.  She said that it might have gone into the junk mail folder as e-mails do from time to time but that they sometimes check that as well.  In her e-mail she gave me two other e-mail addresses that I can use in addition to the editor's email address to send future press releases, but no "sorry for the oversight".  Did the Dallas Voice intentionally ignore us?  Read the blog and comments and be your own judge.  

Often times great progress in terms of civil rights is made when the "sound and sage" advice of one's betters is rejected and replaced by something new and more effective.  We are at point in our civil rights movement where the recent outpouring of action into the streets could be channeled into something more productive in the face of our betters sound and sage advice.    

sábado, 29 de noviembre de 2008


Today a group of LGBT activists protested outside Moon's LDS bookstore on Preston Rd and Forest Ln.  Signs read, "Mormon Leadership Stole Our Rights", "Don't Confuse Your Religion With Our American Rights" and "Prop 8 = Hate".  Our message was clear that the dirty business of the leadership of the Mormon Church was hateful.  I was the proudest queer in Dallas today to see that at least a handful of LGBT activists weren't scared or ashamed enough to stay at home and not call these bigots out on their attacks against us.  

Channel 5, 8 and Univision were present at the event.  Given that 53% of Latino voters supported Prop 8 it was important for Spanish language media outlet to be present.  Although the mainstream media covered the event, the Dallas queer press was no where to be found.  After several slanderous articles in the Dallas Voice could it be that John Wright, news editor, prefers placating his friends to journalistic integrity?

The key to obtaining civil rights lies in movement building.  Salvador Allende is famous for saying, "revolution is about construction, not destruction".  It would benefit us all in the GLBT civil rights movement if a select few in the community would save their venom for our shared enemy. 

The mood today was overwhelmingly positive.  Several people passing by stopped to find out more about what we were doing and to express their solidarity with us in our fight.  People in their cars honked their horns giving thumbs up and peace signs.  The only negative remark came from an individual driving by that felt compelled to roll down his window and shout out "faggots".  How little did he know that he was shouting at the proudest faggot in Dallas that day, surrounded by new friends while unabashedly standing up for our rights.      

sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2008

The Queen of Hearts

The Chicago Tribune columnist, Erik Zorn asked a friend of mine, Andy Thayer about the perplexing phenomenon of the LGBT community rallying its forces together only AFTER the devastating passing of Prop 8.  Here is Andy's response.  

Hi Eric,

I certainly understand your befuddlement at the "vote first, campaign afterward" phenomenon. This isn't the first time that this has happened in our community. The classic example was our community's response to Anita Bryant a generation ago.

What you have to understand is that in both cases, the people responsible for the timorous "campaign" at the start were very different from the people who led the "campaign afterward."

In both cases, the initial "campaign" was led by the best-funded and established individual "leaders" and organizations in the community – who ensured that the "campaign" was top-down, with an at best, luke warm message that many couldn't decipher, let alone get passionate about. There are two main reasons why each time the established community leaders ran such campaigns:

1) As the elite within our community, they typically have the least to complain about in our society, and so are not compelled to "rock the boat"; and

2) A no holds barred campaign – "calling out" all those political and religious leaders who equivocate on matters of equal rights – could end up embarrassing their political allies, particularly in the Democratic Party. After all, with only a few honorable exceptions, Democratic leaders are also guilty of not supporting full legal equality for LGBT people, not just the far right.

Most everyone else in the community (with the exception of a few loud-mouths such as ourselves), deferred to the judgment of their "betters," and passively gave contributions in response to the various fund appeals. There definitely is a class angle here, and it's important to note that the established leaders entered the jockeying for support within the community with huge advantages of built up apparatuses of offices, staffs, political connections, etc.

By contrast, almost all of the post-election rallies and marches (and the few pre-election ones) have been led by individuals with no previous political organizing experience. To say that they have bypassed most of the existing organizations is an understatement.

I for one know that the 20-somethings who contacted GLN for help also reached out to several other organizations besides us, who responded tepidly, if at all. I'm proud that we jumped in feet first immediately after getting their appeal, but that was the exception that proves the rule.

A successful campaign requires not only getting our community out into the streets and effectively utilizing the passionate strength of people who are fearful of loosing their rights, it also requires good, blunt messaging. (Our opponents were certainly clear, if untruthful, in the closing days of the California campaign, and our side just had a muddle.)

In our years' long campaigns against anti-gay organizations such as the Illinois Family Institute and Americans For Truth About Homosexuality here in the Chicago area, GLN has long refused to play by Marquis de Queensbury rules. Our position is that if you are a religious or political leader and you oppose legal equality (in marriage, employment or anything else) for a whole group of people, you are a bigot, plain and simple. For several years now, virtually every time IFI and AFTAH have held public events we have been there with a big banner that reads "Opposition to Equal Rights is BIGOTRY."

Using this messaging we have helped label these opponents to legal equality as bigots in the public mind, and thus made them "damaged goods" to many would-be supporters. I am convinced that this played a role in their thus far twice failing to get an anti-equal marriage measure on Illinois's ballot, let alone passing it.

This same strategy was what finally led to the demise o f Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign (and her career), and the dramatic wind down of hate radio hostess "Dr." Laura Schlessinger's career. In the former case, we very much had a "vote first, campaign later" phenomenon – Bryant did an enormous amount of harm before she was brought down. In the latter case, I'm proud that our "StopDrLaura" campaign nipped the problem in the bud before she did nearly as much damage.

The LGBT community is not monolithic. We have virtually every political tendency and faction you can imagine. What we've seen over the past few weeks are the young, unaffiliated folks, and "radicals" like GLN, taking the ball and running with it now that the established organizations, commanding far greater financial resources, have been found wanting.

All the best,

Andy Thayer
co-founder, Gay Liberation Network

viernes, 21 de noviembre de 2008

The Elephant in the Room

It should come as no surprise to anyone that while Etta Zamboni and I were both lead organizers for the November 15 demonstration against Prop 8 she was put on a pedestal and applauded by many in the community.  I on the other hand I was sidelined and shut up.  It's amazing what happens when you are a new voice in the choir.  

Zamboni's assimilationist, apologetic and poorly thought through politics mirror those of the people that have put her on a platform.  Unlike last week's Voice article, which can be found here, The Edge ran an article this week which does a much better job in hearing from both sides and exploring the issues in greater depth.  You can find the Edge article here.

Let's take a moment to review a few of Zamboni's better remarks.  She states that "protest directed at any religious organization is not going to be beneficial" but fails to explain why.  She continues to say that "their participation has already been brought out publicly".  Is she suggesting that it has already been done thus there is no need to call them out again?

In fact LGBT groups that did not take a "let's be friends with our oppressors" stance were the ones that got Dr. Laura Schlessinger's rights to the airwaves taken away in Canada and had her radio show dropped from dozens of radio stations in the US for propagating hate speech against LGBT people.  This was done by confronting the issue and publicly labeling her as a hate monger which caused her popularity to dive.    

Zamboni says that "we are trying to win [the public] over...and going out in front of a Mormon Church serves no benefit".  She is correct that we are trying to win over the public.  One side of the coin is getting our message out there that our love is just as valid as straight love and it deserves all the rights that go along with it.  I believe Zamboni would agree with this but she is ignoring the other side of the coin.  And that is that while we positively assert our right to equal rights we must be prepared to defend and stand up for ourselves when we come under attack.  If organizations like the Mormon Church got behind rolling back civil rights of African Americans could you imagine the NAACP staying silent on the issue and not confronting those actively implicated in beating back their rights?  

Both sides of the coin are necessary.  Disgracefully, our "leaders" are more afraid of stepping on toes, even if they are the toes of homophobic religious extremists. 

Lastly, Zamboni suggests that standing up to an organization that stripped us of our rights is only going to "further divide us as a country".  From a psychological point of view I can understand that everyone has a need to be accepted by the larger society, but rights have never been won by holding hands with those that are making sure you are second class.

The politics that Zamboni has been propped up to support during the past week have come in and out of fashion in the LGBT movement.  It's no surprise that progress falls on the heels of independent unapologetic activism.  On the other hand its no surprise that after 15 or so years of Ms Zamboni's politics we now have 30 states with constitutional amendments, others with bans on gay adoption, no federal protections, DOMA, etc...  Constitutional amendments have passed in each and every state where they have been put to ballot.

Let's not ignore the elephant in the room any longer.

miércoles, 19 de noviembre de 2008

Get Involved to Stop Hate


Weeks before the passing of Proposition 8, the ballot measure to amend the California state constitution taking away marriage equality from LGBT people, the No on 8 campaign held a considerable advantage and it looked as though the LGBT community was set for victory.  As we are all now aware we were narrowly defeated on election day.

The Mormon Church's role in the passing of Proposition 8 was a key element of our defeat in California.  A week before the measure would be voted on the church's leadership called on members to devote time and money to the passing of this hatefull ballot measure.  On November 14 the New York Times reported that Mormons overwhelmingly responded to this calling and because of this effort "they tipped the scale on the ban of gay marriage".  

The Church was successful in raising some $22 million that funded a bigoted and misleading TV ad campaign.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars came from Dallas alone.  Anti-gay Mormon groups quickly formed to knock on doors and build phone banks spreading hate and fear throughout California.

Having been so viciously attacked the LGBT community must respond.  Holding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accountable for their role in the passing of Prop 8 sends the message that we are not going to tolerate having our community publically slandered and our rights taken away from us.  We cannot give this organization nor any other organization a free pass to spread hatred against us.

Join us in a press conference/protest outside Moon's LDS bookstore at 1482 Preston Forest Square.  On Saturday, November 29 we will meet at 12:30 PM on the public space in front of the outdoor shopping mall.  Preston Forest Square is located on the north west corner of Preston Rd and Forest Ln.  Please contact Blake at or by calling 214-679-6321 with any questions or concerns.  

Check out Dan Savage's take on the passing of Prop 8 here on youtube!