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!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, here I go ... again

September 10th, 2009

This will be my 9th or 10th (but who's counting, right?) trip to DC for LGBTQ-XYZ civil rights. The first was the '87 March and the last the 2004 Marriage Equality Caravan. In between, I traveled with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt to DC every year and was one of the organizers of the '93 March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation (I am one of probably only 13 people on earth who can quote the official march title, the tale of which is a novella all its own).

This may be my most conflicted trip yet.

Soo...other than it's a bad habit, why am I going?

1. It's time to turn the heat up, not down, on this administration. NOBODY has ever given us anything without us demanding it first. We need to change our strategy of going state to state -begging for crumbs - to one of demanding action on a Federal level.

2. It's important that old farts like me support the old farts of the future (who are the young turks of today and organizers of this march).

3. This march is a real test to see if we really can mobilize people a different way. A more effective, cost conscious way. It's one thing to get 10,000 people to every City Hall in California after Prop 8 and a whole 'nother thing to convince people to travel across the country.

3. I know a lot of people who would like to go, but can't. I can go, and will carry their thoughts with me.

I'll be in DC from Oct 8th-13th, talking to people who have made the trip, asking them why. I'll also be checking in with the DC LGBT community... or communities to be more specific. In the past, national marches and those organizing them have been held in some contempt by the locals: the carpetbagger scenario. I'm wondering if the organizers of this march have invited the hosts....

Comments? Ideas? Dinning tips???
Lemme know.