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.
For those not yet up-to-date, my New Years Resolution was all about getting in shape, and — overall — it’s been working. Maybe not in the quick burst I initially imagined, but the gains have come, nonetheless. My body is toner, I’m slowly losing weight, my workouts are more intense, and my beloved wine consumption is down dramatically. However, while in both January and February I posted photos of myself online, as per my resolution, I just don’t have it in me to post for March. When talking weather, there is an old saying, “March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb,” and I’m sincerely hoping that to be true in other respects as well.
March hit with a literal bang, as an article I’d written (posted on both Huffington Post and Bilerico Project) immediately garnered controversy. It was a piece about a planned civil rights march, which was both critical and supportive of the effort. It took a look at many of the march’s questionable elements, and suggested the group network with some of the bigger organizations for a greater chance at success.
Well, ever since, the group’s core of about six people have hounded me in the comment sections on both sites, raked me over the coals on their facebook group, and the lead organizer even went so far as to post a rant about me on his own blog. Far from being mad, though, or wanting to defend myself to the inaccuracies lobbied about, I just felt sorry for them. I have no issue with being criticized, especially if that discourse is intelligent and respectful, and when you post an article such as this, criticism is to be expected. Instead of responding directly to my queries, though, their attacks quickly veered into the personal. I understand their desire for attention (after all, their facebook group is losing members, not gaining), but jumping on someone who simply asks questions, and doing so with venom, isn’t really the best way to garner support. And neither does that tone help inspire confidence in the group’s leaders.
Still, as I’ve said countless times, I wish them well. If they spend even a fraction of the time they’ve spent mud-slinging in actually planning the march, I’m sure it will be a rousing success. (more…)