Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who Knew??

We knew it was going to be better than we were being told it was going to be.
We didn't think that it was going to be this much better.

The official march count just came out a few hours ago: a shitload of people.
All kinds of people. Mostly young...but not everyone was young...or any one kind of person.

I felt Phyllis Lyon's and Del Martin's presence here. I hope that someone will tell Phyllis that they were missed today and that they would have been so proud of their great grandchildren. Their great grandchildren declared grassroots activism alive and well. Their great grandchildren also made it clear today that they are ready to take us into the next era of the LGBT civil rights movement... in ways that work for them.

This morning started REAL early for me. My media volunteer shift started at 7 AM. Plueeze. There is no coffee available at 7 AM on a Sunday morning in downtown Washington DC. There is NOTHING available at 7 AM on a Sunday morning in downtown Washington DC.

But, I made it. Not awake, but physically there. That is all that was expected.

Then, they handed me a walkie-talkie (I know, I know...I took a vow) and it was off to the races. I was at the stage and as the first marchers came in we got the report that the last marchers hadn't left the starting place yet. Two miles. It was only then that we knew that something big was happening.

In the last few hours I've heard some wonderful stories. Just as the march started a big rainbow came out over the Mall. Everyone cheered. A sign. What can I tell was that kind of day, that kind of moment.
There are some wonderful pics up on the march website:

Anyway, the speakers spoke, the singers sang. We all left tired, but revived. All of us who were not involved in the organizing of this march owe much gratitude to this raggedy bunch of nobodies who just decided to give it a shot...because it was important and time to act. Yea.

I wish I could say this weekend was ALL peaches and cream time ...but it wasn't. I have evidence. As I walked by the Human Rights Campaign building this morning I realized that they had been tagged by someone angry and with little sense of power. I only had my phone with me but did take the shot. One the left side of the picture is some pink writing. It says "Quit leaving Queers Behind."

Was this a hate crime against HRC? I doubt if this is the first time someone has politically vandalized their building. But, was kind of disconcerting to see, especially today. At approximately 6:45 in the morning... sans caffeine.

I do hope HRC will quit leaving queers out, and learn to make nice with people who don't write checks. And, I hope that those who don't write checks will come to understand that it takes ALL of us to make change happen. This has been a wonderful, meaningful that gave us all hope. However,we still have our work cut out for us. Heavy lifting ahead.

I think we are up to the task. Know it in my heart. Today, for some reason I thought of Del Martin's Memorial service this year. And I thought about something that her daughter said...something I don't think I'll ever forget: "People talk about what an extraordinary woman Del Martin was...but she was not an extraordinary person. She was a very ordinary person...who did extraordinary things."

Today a whole lot of ordinary people did something special and kick-started us into the "next." An extraordinary thing.

So, let's wrap this up.
All weekend long I asked people why they were here. Why they were activists.
A question asked a hundred times with a hundred answers.
My personal answer should be pretty clear by now.
Being part of this is important, it is meaningful...
But really, what keeps me coming back, keeps me going, is that this is damn FUN.
I wouldn't have missed this weekend for the world and am so happy that I was able to share my experience with you.

I hope that if you ever get a chance to come to DC and speak your idea of truth to power, you will take it.
It will change your life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Please Stand By...

It's around noon, Saturday. I had planned a nice stroll over to the Phillips Museum to visit a few old friends...the kind that hang on the wall. Instead, after stopping by the March headquarters first, I found myself wishing for more coffee after already having three cups this morning.

Phil asked me to media wrangle for the Camp Courage training this afternoon. It's easy. All I have to do is look old enough to know something. I do that everyday. Perhaps, I'll get to sit.

And, speaking of old enough to know nothing, old NAMES Project people are all over the place. We'll have dinner at Georgia Brown's tonight.

Ran into Cleve and Gilbert Baker (a combo of which I am particularly leery) on the street, discussing how to cover up the corporate logo on a truck that had been donated to haul something (not Cleve) down the street. I'm sure Gilbert has a football field sized rainbow flag stashed in somebody's garage in somewhere in Maryland..or something. Gert from the NP is here, so there will be sewing involved, no doubt, at dawn.

Meanwhile, nobody here can get onto Facebook. The genderfuckqueernerds have crippled the system...we rule the waves. Except we can't ride them this morning.

Maybe I should blow it off and go to the Phillips after all. After coffee.

5:30 PM ..In my room for a quick hour or two off my feet. Then off to Georgia Brown's for some laughs over drinks with some dinosaurs. Gert reminded me today that it was 22 years ago when we brought Quilt to DC - the 1987 March. And, we were young too. Maybe an average age of 24 or so.

And our elders thought we were moving too fast, not organized, too radical.
If I remember correctly, Barney Frank said we were wasting time and money then, too. Blah, Blah, Blah, Barney. We were over you then and we are over you now. Being smart doesn't make you a leader.
Compassion and the willingness to take risks make you a leader.
There are plenty of leaders here.

I spent the afternoon with the Courage Campaign folks at their training. Did I agree with everything I heard?
Sort of. It is a ragtag army, defending the right to process... and at some point I tune out on all that.
But, I do live in Berkeley, after all. I live that shit everyday, everywhere I go. Even at Peets. God, I'd kill for an Americano from Peets.

So. OK. Enough of my withdrawal symptoms. Here's what I've learned today at the National Equality March on Washington.
Our movement is in good hands. Caring hands. Damn young hands, but ones that are capable. Caring and compassionate.

I originally planned to stop by the HRC dinner picket line tonight to witness firsthand the never ending War of the Bitter Homosexuals.

Screw that, I'm going to take a nap then off to Georgia Brown's.

My shift tomorrow starts at 7 am. Perhaps I'll be on time. Or... not.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Flip Camera Revolution

Volunteering can be such hell, but sometimes it isn't.
These two are my new media volunteer buddies - all coupled up, fired up and changing their lives, I think.

I'm meeting great people in DC.
Some are people who I remember
most are not.
Some are people who I do remember but would rather not act like I remember.
I shot this phonephoto today because these guys really touched me. They drove up from North Carolina. Activists.

But...back to the Flip Camera Revolution.

I got a taste of this when I rode the goddamn marriage equality caravan bus across the country in 2004. We were wired to the tits. At night, blogging by the glow of 40 laptops.

Oh 2004...Weren't we wearing mullets then?

This time, I hauled so much stuff to DC, in addition to the computer and phone, that I practically had to have a separate suitcase for it all: a Flip Camera on its maiden voyage, one of those USB Verizon stick things so I can access instant gratification online, at will...Big Ass Bose head phones to keep the discordant pitch at bay.. And, a new Nano..yes the one with the trickster FM Radio and a camcorder that probably renders the Flip obsolete...flipped off. The problem isn't really all that stuff, it's the chargers and cords and power packs and stuff that goes with the stuff. I swear, my carry-one weighed 45 pounds. Gee, maybe I need a netbook...

And I am traveling so light (weight) compared to everyone else here, it seems. There must be 10,000 Flip Vidiots in town for this little sashsay down Pennsylvania Ave. Today, I had this idea for a cartoon...It's a scene of the rally. And you know how everyone used to wave lighters at the stage during the really goooood songs? Well, it's kinda like that...only we are all waving our Flip cameras at David Mixner (who seems genuinely perplexed), together, ready to upload hope to the universe. The Flip camera revolution. It could work. Good visual.

Meanwhile, aren't these boys cute. They really are working hard.
Everyone who is trying to pull this thing off is working really, really, really hard.
Even all the little princes of all gender identities and sexual orientations.
And lo, they are legion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The gang's not quite all here...

I'm here, still queer.
Staying at the Tabard Inn, which seems to be kind of a hostel for Republicans.
I doubt if it has been remodeled since the '79 March...

I've been checking the official website for the march ( a couple times a day for updates and it's a good thing. As of an hour ago there are 56 related events scheduled over the weekend. Most of them youth oriented...mostly trainings on how to lobby or educational.

But not all. On Monday after the march, the artsy-fartsy dykes are meeting at the Museum of Women's Art for brunch and hormonal art appreciation: that sounds like a good follow up to the weekend to me. By Monday, I'm not sure if I will be artsy or fartsy..but maybe both. If so, I'm there!

And, the usual suspects are starting to come out of the woodwork. NGLTF finally woke up and announced (on Oct 6th!) they were co-hosting a reception and that several people identified with the organization will be speaking on Sunday. Unfortunately, true to recent form, hardly a leadership stance from a former national powerhouse. Sadly revealing.

Meanwhile, HRC figured out early that the weekend would be a great income-generating opportunity and got on board. Saturday's dinner is turning out to be the second most important event of the weekend because of the big news today with the Nobel Peace Prize announcement.

Everyone is wondering how it will affect Obama's scheduled speech at the dinner. Will he still show? Will he say anything different now?

I plan to be there...on the street however. Andy Thayer, an old ACTUp activist, has organized a picket line demanding LGBTQ action, not words, from the president. It will be interesting to see who and how many show up. My instincts tell me it's going to be a love-fest that no amount of protesting is going to deter. I'm sure the attendees will shun the riff-raff, as usual.

Because, the street activists, have always hated HRC and vice versa. Class warfare. I can hardly wait to see the reaction Barney Frank gets when he shows up. He publicly said the march was a "waste of time." That officially qualified him as elitist scum in the activists' eyes. Not news, however.

Meanwhile, I did pick up this little tidbit from the march website. The co-chairs and primary organizers finally and officially answered the question of what we want (besides a cold is 85 degrees in DC today):

"The march will be the first step toward a larger goal of creating a national movement - the 50 State Legislative Outreach Campaign - in all 435 congressional districts to demand of elected representatives full equality under the law. The march is just the beginning, we are not expecting to wake up on Monday morning with a federal bill on the president's desk to sign. We will no longer be told to wait. This march is our chance to demand full equal protection under the law, and it will help us realize the dream of Equality Across America: a committed group of grassroots activists in all 435 congressional districts."

Thank god, somebody finally told me why I am in town...

And, speaking of committed grassroots activists, you'll love this. I told Phil Siegel (yet ANOTHER ex-NAMES Project alum doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes) that I would help him on Sunday...he's in charge of media.

So, he's put me on at 7 am- checking in media, I think on the Mall.
Ahh, the steamgrates at dawn...

If he hands me a walkie-talkie I'm going to throw it at him. I'm taking a stand on being anti-clipboard too.

The good news is the weather is the best I've ever experienced here...but, who knows by Sunday.
I know, always the hopeful pessimist.

I'll be on the streets tonight at Dupont Circle to check out who's showing up and why. So far, it seems like I'm only running into LGBTQ people from Utah. Go figure.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sundays in October

Countdown time. One week away.

Sundays in October are always dicey...
Can't trust the weather, god knows,
Especially in DC,
has been my experience.

But maybe, maybe, maybe
magic will happen.
The kind you don't find out about
until 20 years later.
That is the best kind,
has been my experience.

Seven days away! Will it be great? A bust?
Guess we'll find out together. Nobody knows.
That's the best part.
NOBODY KNOWS what will, or will not, happen in DC.

Meanwhile today, THIS Sunday was not dicey at all.
Why-we-live-here weather, with the added benefit of boys and girls playing together politely... laughing, gently.

Pacific Center, held a garden party today for friends, old and new. And when an organization like Pacific Center brings in the old and new... feel free to engage in literal interpretation. We had around 40-50 people show up and the age range was early twenties to a few in their eighties. It was very cool.

When I joined Pacific Center as the executive director about a year ago, I learned Carole Migden had been one of the first EDs for the agency. She was instrumental in taking it from a being a project to a real non-profit organization. And, today, because of the hard work of literally hundreds of people,and Carole, Pacific Center has struggled, evolved and thrived to remain the third oldest LGBTQ Center in the country. Thirty-six years old. On a full moon you can practically smell the patchouli oil wafting in the halls... a reminder of support groups past.

So, we celebrated. In Stafford Buckley's lovely garden.
Little quiches and precious nibbles. Muchos mimosas.
And, lots of affection between strangers
whose only bond brought them to the garden.
Here's a photo of Carole and me...
I have NO idea what the hell happened to my hair.
I'll have to get my Do together way better than that for DC, like, for sure.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"You going to DC?"

Last week I was at CenterLink's (the national association for LGBT Centers) conference in Philadelphia and decided to ask my comrades (Leaders, all!) in Queerdom if they were planning on going to DC.

Just for sport.

LGBT Centers these days, for most parts of the country, are kind of like mom-and-pop retailers. Kind of quaint in the internet age... not an easy fit with the young activists today.

Anyway, the responses were all over the place. The ED from the Salt Lake LGBT Center told me that really young people are apathetic, but busloads of people in their 30's and 40's (and mostly coupled) are going. Most other areas are just the opposite. It's a youth march.

There is much, much more interest and organizing on the east coast than anywhere else and this march is very much going to be about empowering the next generation. The secondary message to the community at-large is that some of us are going to have to get ready to get out of the way. That was the vibe in Philadelphia last weekend anyway. For whatever that's worth.

Meanwhile, the scary-cool thing about it all is NOBODY KNOWS HOW MANY WILL SHOW UP.

NOBODY HAS A CLUE. The traditional markers used to predict the numbers simply aren't in place (the magic number of participating hotels, official travel sponsors/sites) or are just now getting lined up only 2 or 3 weeks prior to the event.

And yet, if you go to the march website,, you'll see that a lot of events are starting to pop up on the weekend schedule: again, mostly for young activists coming to DC for the first time. Permits are in place and the beast is taking shape.

The list of speakers has just been released:

Stuart Applebaum
Richard Aviles
Jarret Barrios
Dustin Lance Black
Julian Bond
Marsha Botzer
Staceyann Chin
Lt. Dan Choi
Tanner Efinger
Hawaii Board of Education Member Kim Coco Iwamoto
Cleve Jones
Michelle Lopez
Robin McGehee
David Mixner
Nicole-Murray Ramirez
Chloe Noble
Tobias Packer
Reverend Troy Perry
New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Los Angeles Council Member Bill Rosendahl
Babs Siperstein
Judy Shepard
Maxim Thorn
Urvashi Vaid
Derek Washington
Falls Church City Council Member Lawrence Webb
Kit Yan
Kip Williams
Sherry Wolf

It promises to be a long (winded) day!
The big question is "Will there still be daylight for the last speaker?"
Answer: "Plueeze."

And, who are half these people anyway???

Hopefully, the young will get to speak too.
If not, I hope they storm the stage.
And take it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just one question...

Right on Schedule... Let the eating of our own begin.

In the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of back and forth chatter as a result of leaders of this march referring to the "old" strategy of gaining rights on a state-by-state, proposition-by-proposition, basis as being outdated and calling for nothing less than a sweeping federal action. There's been a real "us" v.s. "them" response and rebuttal thing going on.

News alert!. We've been following a dual (at least) track of demanding state and federal action simultaneously for as long as I can remember. What really got
everyone's pants in a bunch was Cleve Jones calling all the tireless lawyering and proposition proposing of the last 20+ years or so a "Failed Strategy."

them's fightn' words...

And, believe me, Cleve knows it. I'm sure from his activist perspective, he thought that it was time to do a little stick-poking to bring attention to this march. OK, Cleve, you got our attention. For a minute, maybe.

Frankly, all this broohaahaa over words seems divisive to me. And boring. And nothing new.

Not that anyone cares what I think...(But, here it comes anyway)...I think all these battles won-and-lost state-by-state over the last 20 years have brought us to where we are today: we have an overwhelming body of legislative evidence pointing to the logical conclusion that it is time to make our case for a national response. All the work of the last 20 years has brought us to a kind of "critical mass" point, timing-wise, to demand national policy changes. We also have a congressional majority for the first time in forever that might even act in our interest, if we are willing to push them hard enough to do it.

So, I just have one question...
Can somebody tell me why I should have fewer (or more) rights in some states than in others?

Did we settle for a state-by-state set of rights and funding for people living with AIDS? (Did I just ask a second question?)

Ahh, no. No, we did not. We fought that tooth and nail. We demanded a response at the federal level. But we were very, very angry then. Much more then, than now. And, I hope we never have to be that angry, that desperate, again in my lifetime.

Meanwhile, speaking of HIV issues...for those who will be in DC, I just found out that there will be an AIDS vigil/rally on the Ellipse (behind the White House) on Oct 10
th, 5:30 PM

Finally, on to the most important topic of my trip to DC : Where shall I eat? So far I have Annies (been there, done that) and the Florida Grill (been there, loved that). Alas, this trip will be vegan-free and there will be red meat and bourbon in the mix. DC, to me, is a manhattan on the rocks kind of place.

Grrrr. And, NO cherry!