The LGBT community would be nothing were it not for the many and varied grassroots efforts which have sprung up throughout our history, spurring us forward in the name of equality. While our national organizations may serve a purpose in terms of presence and lobbying, in my view, most of the monumental changes have occurred as the result of groups outside the mainstream. Whether it be Lt. Dan Choi and GetEqual helping to bring about an end to DADT, or ACT-UP in demanding resources and awareness during the AIDS epidemic, or the small but laser-like focus of the American Foundation for Equal Rights in working to bring marriage equality to California, these smaller groups have often been able to affect change where our national organizations can’t–or won’t.
I came of age during the days of Queer Nation and ACT-UP, and every rally, march, or benefit I’ve attended or organized has helped instill in me the belief that power, indeed, lies with the people. Last year’s Occupy movement further reinforced that conviction: on a local level, a band of committed individuals can move mountains.
In February, I wrote about a planned “2012 Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights March”, slated for April 21. The idea for the march had sprung from a facebook group called Let’s Reach 1 Million People Campaign, and the group’s founder and lead organizer, Joseph C. Knudson, asked if I would write an article about their efforts. I agreed, but as I began to look more closely at the event, I realized that I couldn’t deliver the promotional piece they’d desired. The article, What if They Threw a Worldwide LGBT Equality March, and No One Came?, noted my concerns around the planning associated with the effort, and questioned if the event was truly designed for success.
The article prompted a firestorm of protest in the comment sections on both Huffington Post and Bilerico Project, primarily from those organizing the event, and included accusations of inaccuracies, questions about my motives, personal attacks, and even resulted in a rant about me on Knudson’s blog. And yet, despite each of their energetic volleys, the questions I raised were never fully answered by the event organizers.
Instead, I and others with questions were simply urged to read the group’s disclosure document, as if the answers to each of our varied questions could be found in that single document. While some have speculated that this event was simply a promotional effort, designed to draw attention to a book Knudson had written, it was assured time and again that the Worldwide LGBT Equality March had no connection to his personal endeavors. But where, you might ask, is the group’s disclosure document located? Not on their website, as one would expect. Instead, a link redirects you to Knudson’s own site, where the document is posted beneath links to his book trailer, author page, and book press release. A minor point, perhaps, but hardly the kind of thing which eases concerns about either his motivation or the separation between the two endeavors.