Saturday, April 10, 2010

Open Forum: Has Gay Inc Been Rendered Useless?

The modern day LGBT rights movement began in the 1970's with grassroots organizing by regular people who were fed up with bar raids, being labeled as mentally ill, and the verbal and physical abuse they suffered. Moving into the 1980's much of the activist focus was on the lack of research and funding to help with the HIV/AIDS outbreak that was disproportionately affecting gay men. From the drag queens who fought back at Stonewall, to the actions of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, to the impassioned protesting of ACT-UP it is the activist queers who have made a difference that has propelled a movement.

Gay organizations began popping up to meet the needs of these impassioned groups of individuals who sought change. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD began to advocate for the LGBT community on a national level. Local organizations like Equality California spearheaded the fight to protect marriage equality. At the end of the day marriage has been lost in California, Don't Ask Don't Tell is in place, people can be fired for being gay or transgender, and other social inequalities persist.

There has been a growing frustration with "gay inc" over their lack of transparency and willpower to create real change. Many people have begun to view the mainstream LGBT organizations as just being a bunch of elaborate parties and paychecks to politicians who don't support full equality.

Do you think that mainstream gay rights groups have a part in the movement or have they become completely blinded by the real mission and process necessary to achieve equal rights?

8 comments:

weaponsofmassdistraction said...

I don't think they have a real part any longer. The National Equality March and the trials of Lt. Dan Choi have pretty much proved that.

It's time for the grassroots to seize power again.

BTB, I'm Truthspew. But due to a complaint againt my blog I've mirrored everything at the site below.

Sapphocrat said...

I think it's unavoidable: No matter how good initial intentions, power, money, and rubbing elbows constantly with celebrities and politicians is intoxicating, and those in charge forget all about the "little people," and their original raison d'etre.

There's also a darker possibility -- not, mind you, that I'm accusing anyone of anything: Ask yourself how likely it is that antivirus companies really want to eliminate computer viruses; if they did, they'd be out of business.

Now ask yourself what would happen if we ever did achieve complete equality throughout the United States. Gay, Inc., would be put out of business, the money would stop flowing, and all those cocktail parties would end.

Again, I'm not accusing a soul of any wrongdoing -- people often do things without realizing they're doing them, convinced they really are serving a higher good -- but it makes me wonder if the desire to remain "needed" isn't somewhat responsible for the spineless capitulation we see from Gay, Inc., as a whole.

Kenny said...

If we leave it only to 'organizations' to fight the fight then it will take far, far longer than we think to gain equality. I've long thought that the way to get folks to understand our position and to side with us is simply to let our friends and relatives and our neighbors that we are gay and we exist just like they do... Harvey said it best 30 yrs ago: “Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.” (…Harvey Milk…"That's What America Is," speech given on Gay Freedom Day, 6/25/78, in San Francisco)

Diane J Standiford said...

Inc, is failing us at a time of great opportunity. In Seattle, in late '80s, we got Domestic Partnerships passed thanks to grassroots, gays and st8s, and the ACLU---all I have ever seen of gay inc is bickering and chickens w/heads cut off. Hate Crime Bill, took the death of one young man and his vigilant mother. Inc, can't discern friends from enemies, is paranoid, and we are losing the war.

Nox said...

"Gay Inc" (I swear that make me think of those old 4 color pens), IS falling behind... but I don't think it's entirely their fault... they need support (I'm not talking money, I'm talking action by the "grassroots" segment that built them)... if the average person doesn't stand behind these organizations and help them, they've got no base, and no momentum... and no power to effect change. too many people get into the mindset of "let them deal with it"... that just doesn't work. we need numbers behind them supporting them, and helping to shape their direction if they stray to far from the common goals we share.

personally I think the negative supposition that success would take away all the things they've come to enjoy is silly... as if there were only cause left to fight for... anyone who has grown to enjoy the benefits would find it easy to transition to another cause, and with success under their belt, and with all the contacts and influence they've gained, other causes would be happy to have them. there is plenty of job security left, because their skills and their connections will remain in demand for a long time to come, and their track record would make them desirable. (the same could be said for various "cure for X" jobs. if you make your goal, you're career is pretty much gilded at that point.)

David Alex Nahmod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
libhom said...

I think it depends on the organization. GLAAD, the Victory Fund, and the HRC are worse than useless. The queer churches are especially counterproductive.

But, NGLTF, Pride at Work, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, and GLAD in Mass are examples of worthwhile queer organizations.

I do think that our movement definitely needs a much stronger grassroots component if we are going to get very far, though.

Jest de Fax said...

Most of the Gay Inc organizations don't know what to do with volunteers who show up at their door asking for ways to get involved. These organizations have a mind-set that only paid professional staffers can get anything done. However the truth is that nothing gets done without a grass roots movement. We can't just delegate our fight to professional staffers and hope that they hob-nob with the right politicians. Politicians are deaf to lobbyists but they hear grass roots voters.

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