Friday, June 28, 2013

DOMA/Prop 8 Rally, All About ‘Branding’ - Is the gay movement over?

Last night’s Los Angeles rally in West Hollywood over our twin Supremes victory was anything but a “rally.”
It was a slick and packaged media stunt.
Sponsored exclusively by one of the GLBT’s most slick, packaged and “straight” organizations, AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights). As one attendee lamented, “We were supposed to be the celebrants but we were the audience -- we were just props for the media's cameras.”

Much of the crowd was neatly boxed up in a roped off area directly in front of the major media platform. That’s right, no gay spontaneity, lesbian commentary, or too-queer looking folks, please. Every sign and speaker glorified only AFER or HRC. (The Human Rights Campaign Fund, where AFER founder Chad Griffin is now the Exec. Director).
 I and others walked away early from the crowd of about 1500 after the 8th speaker, attorney Ted Olsen’s remarks, which followed the same platitudinal kind of address as his predecessors. Yawn!
A friend later said, “"I wished the speakers could've been more dynamic and motivating (or made me cry a little even...)"
As I left the photo-op and strode back to my car I couldn’t help feeling… well…the gay movement is over. Or as my metro-sexual straight brother put it, “You gays are so normal now.”
Gee thanks, AFER, that’s all we ever wanted.

To hear the speakers tell our story one would think AFER was single handedly responsible for the demise of DOMA as well as Prop. 8.  In case some of you reading this came into the LGBT struggle yesterday, AFER became California’s premier (read—biggest recipient of gay dollars) gay marriage group just two years ago.
Personally I and friends went to the rally because we were thrilled about the collapse of DOMA — a victory for every lesbian and gay person in America. But the AFER speakers were all about their own case, Prop. 8, which only restores marriage to one state. Where was a speaker from the DOMA case?

And where were all the lesbian and gay attorneys and activists who have inched forward the marriage issue for the last twenty years? Where were all the grassroots and youth and people of color and statewide orgs?
Where was recognition of groups like: LEA - Latino Equality Alliance - who did outreach in the Latino community and held a righteously angry rally in East LA outside the County Registrar's office in May 2009 (on Day of Decision'after the CA state Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.) Or The Jordan Rustin Coalition & BLU (Black Lesbians United) who march proudly in straight MLK day parades to open hearts & minds for us all, and be visible in their African American community. Or API Equality - who quietly did outreach in multiple languages to shift votes in LA's Asian & Pacific Islander communities during the campaign against Prop 8. What about orgs like Love,Honor,Cherish or Freedom to Marry, or youth groups like Roots of Equality or Equal Roots Coalition - who filed briefs and/or organized and went door to door? Where was Lambda Legal or Equality California who have fought our state’s marriage wars for years?
 As Lester Aponte of Love,Honor,Cherish commented on Facebook, “The freedom to marry in California was earned through the toil and tears of hundreds of grassroots activists and ordinary people just being open and honest about who they are. From what I heard from the podium in West Hollywood yesterday, however, it's like that movement never existed. Marriage equality, it would seem, sprung fully formed from Chad Griffin's head like Hera from Zeus.”
 AFER’s stage was closed to all of them.

If AFER is all that remains of the lesbian and gay movement, I guess I should just keep on walking… Walking into another movement in which I can still hear the voices of the common queer.