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 lgbtliberaction@gmail.com 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!