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08/19/2008

QT challenges HRC; vowels glad to be left alone

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 2-174The folks at QueerToday.com, who've long captured our hearts and minds by being one of the biggest thorns in the side of the radically anti-gay MassResistance group, are now turning their sites to an organization that conventional wisdom would say is less likely to earn pro-gay ire: The Human Rights Campaign. Because of what QueerToday's Mark Snyder describes as HRC's "lack of grassroots organizing and coalition building, support for a non-inclusive ENDA, and endorsements of pro-war, anti-labor, anti-choice, and anti-immigrant candidates," he and his fellow Massachusetts-based gay rights activists are organizing a protest of an HRC gala that's scheduled to be held in Boston on 10/25.

Full release after the jump:

Boston - QueerToday.com activists are organizing a protest of the HRC Gala to be held October 25th 2008 at the Sheraton in Boston. QueerToday.com plans to build a broad coalition of activists to protest HRC's lack of grassroots organizing and coalition building, support for a non-inclusive ENDA, and endorsements of pro-war, anti-labor, anti-choice, and anti-immigrant candidates.

Just a few weeks ago Brad Luna, spokesperson for HRC, said the protests of their Galas have "nothing to do with organized labor," this week HRC has moved their Boston Gala from the Hynes Convention Center to the Sheraton because of Organized Labor's protests of Aramark. HRC has historically allowed their dinners to be catered by Aramark despite the fact that HRC themselves gave the company one of the lowest "Equality Index" scores, and organized labors ongoing protests of the corporation's discriminatory practices. One of the groups heavily involved in pressuring HRC to move their event was Unite Here Local 26, a union that joined with QueerToday.com activists in protesting the 2007 Boston Pride theme.

In San Francisco the keynote speaker for their HRC Gala, the mayor of Los Angeles, backed out at the last minute citing his refusal to cross labor picket lines. The event was protested by Pride At Work, a queer labor group that has endorsed QueerToday's Boston boycott.

The anti-war movement is involved in boycotting HRC as well. At the 2007 New York City Gala the anti-war group Code Pink joined forces with queer activists to speak out about HRC's pro-war endorsements (Joe Lieberman among others) and supporters.

Most pressing, in almost every city protests organized by transgender activists have occurred or are planned in response to HRC's wishy washy support for a trans-inclusive version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). Over 300 organizations including PFLAG and NGLTF have signed the United ENDA document calling for one voice supporting one inclusive ENDA.

In the wake of the ENDA debacle, HRC has demonstrated a reliance on force to address possible dissenters -LGBT ones- at their gala fundraising events. In Houston last spring, HRC requested riot police for less than a dozen transgender and allied activists. In San Francisco, private security guards forcefully removed a dissenting attendee, Catherine Cusic. A national coalition including QueerToday.com, Texas Gender Advocacy and Information Network, and Left OUT, has formed to call on HRC to treat protestors with compassion, and recognize that dissent is an important element of our community's history.

Several organizations including Queers Without Borders, Pride At Work, and KnowThyNeighbor.org have already endorsed the protest of HRC's Boston Gala. They are calling on local activists and organizations like MassEquality to withdraw support of HRC at once.

More information can be found at h
ttp://www.queertoday.com.

Boston HRC Gala PROTEST [QT]

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Your thoughts

"QueerToday.com plans to build a broad coalition of activists to protest HRC's lack of grassroots organizing and coalition building,"

Legit complaint, yet I'm not sure a formal protest is necessitated by this.

"support for a non-inclusive ENDA,"

If polls are to be believed, not all GLB's believe it is proper to link the T's to their struggle for full rights. HRC isn't even opposed to a T-inclusive ENDA, they just happen to be political realists and do not see why GLB's should have to wait.

"and endorsements of pro-war, anti-labor, anti-choice, and anti-immigrant candidates.

Since these issues have nothing to do with gay rights, regardless of what position one personally hold, complaints on this are absurd. Gays have different views on these and quite a number of other matters just like heteros do.

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 12:02:01 PM

Indeed, gays do have a variety of positions on all of these issues, gays are democrats, gays are republicans, gays are conservatives, gays are liberals.

As a feminist, I myself believe that all of these struggles are intimately interconnected--in fact completely inseperable. Winning an ENDA for GLB people isn't a full victory, since it leaves some of our brothers and sisters out of the picture. Discrimination against gay people happens for both reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity. Besides the fact that it's just the right thing to do to fight for trans rights--don't think employers won't use a gay person's gender identity under a non-inclusive ENDA as reason for termination. Not straight acting enough? Watch out--you might find yourself linked to those "T's" whether you like it or not.

Posted by: Nancy | Aug 19, 2008 12:56:11 PM

Just what we need: Division. :/

Posted by: Baldran | Aug 19, 2008 1:05:47 PM

It is indeed frustrating, Baldran. What scares me is that I don;t see an end in the immediate future.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 19, 2008 1:08:59 PM

Division is leaving out our trans brothers and sisters. Solidarity is joining hands to support justice for all people - queer immigrants, queer women who deserve reproductive justice, queer soldiers who deserve adaquate health care, etc. These issues ARE our issues, and the bigger our coalition the more we win in the long term rather than fighting over the scraps. QueerToday exists to spark these very discussions - so in that respect we are succeeding. As long as we get LGBT people talking about these ideas we're doing our job.

Posted by: Mark Snyder | Aug 19, 2008 1:25:33 PM

"I myself believe that all of these struggles are intimately interconnected--in fact completely inseperable."

I disagree - especially when it comes to non-germaine issues like defense, labor, immigration or abortion. There is no one or proper 'gay' stance on these matters.

"What scares me is that I don;t see an end in the immediate future."

Actually I view this as a positive thing. Is being gay part of who we are as individuals or does it make up the totality of our identity? The fact that there are gays who are liberal, conservative, liberatarian or what-have-you is good. Our sexuality and life experiences may influence our views but the former at least should not define them. A 'pro' or 'anti' position on say defense has nothing to do with sexuality. Is this not the argument most of us have made when it comes to repealing DADT?

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 1:37:58 PM

John: I think you're pulling my quip out of context. I was only speaking to the fact that the in-fighting between HRC and various other LGBT activists doesn't seem to have an easily apparent remedy. Regardless of your conservative leanings, how is continued in-fighting within the movement at all a positive? How will it lead to any sort of growth?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 19, 2008 1:48:47 PM

John: Could you elaborate on exactly why the "GLB people" should not or would not support the Trans community, it seems to me that we are all in the same boat when it comes to discrimination. I think Nancy is right to say that gender identity will be the next route for people to attack once they can’t attack us solely on our sexuality. Also while I agree that many different opinions and concerns make up our community I think the major issue with HRC is that they have been unsupportive of the community they purportedly serve.

Posted by: Randy | Aug 19, 2008 1:58:29 PM

Jeremy: I was speaking in general terms, not trying to characterize your comments. In general it's good that we have differing views on issues beyond gay rights. Where we agree, let's work together and fight the good fight. Where we don't, we can butt heads but our sexuality really has nothing to do with this. The in-fighting you are speaking of here is unfortunate, but also to be expected. It can indeed have negative results for certain goals a particular ad-hoc group has, which is why activists should stick to the main areas of agreement rather than shoe-horn in everything one particular side believes. The same happened among civil rights groups last century. When issues going way beyond the original goals of a group are brought in, division happens. For example, how many folks here would like to see gay rights groups add to their 'agenda' gun rights, repeal of Roe v. Wade, building of a wall on the Rio Grande, privatization of social security, etc.? I imagine a number of you with more liberal leanings would rightly balk at bringing in issues that are non-germaine to say, working to have ENDA passed (T-inclusive or not), even if some of you may agree with one or more of these other views. Bascially, I care as much what a group like HRC has to say about the proliferation of nuclear weapons as I do the NRA taking a stance on Proposition 8 in California.

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 2:43:36 PM

"Could you elaborate on exactly why the 'GLB people' should not or would not support the Trans community, it seems to me that we are all in the same boat when it comes to discrimination."

Whether GLB folks support Trans or not and to what extent is up to each individual. I do not believe that sexual orientation and gender identity involve the exact same fights, nor do I think our fight has to be tied to theirs. Are we to be denied ENDA because the political will isn't there to extend it to T's? Shall we postpone repealing DADT because Trans are not presently included? Our system works with compromise and all movements for rights in this country have not come wholesale but incrementally. Why can't the Trans community make their own appeals for fair treatement without holding GLB's 'hostage' in the process?

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 2:50:23 PM

"Jeremy: I was speaking in general terms, not trying to characterize your comments."

Fair enough. But since you did use my quip as a springboard for your thoughts, I just wanted to clarify that I was speaking only to the HRC rift.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 19, 2008 3:02:07 PM

John: I see what you are saying, and I don’t want to get into an argument as I am way to tired to get involved in to it today, however your statement:
"Why can't the Trans community make their own appeals for fair treatment without holding GLB's 'hostage' in the process?"
Makes me very uncomfortable, and actually kind of sick to my stomach, I will leave it to others to debate if they wish, but damn that is a really sh**y statement.

Posted by: Randy | Aug 19, 2008 3:16:16 PM

actually i think that being queer does mean we need to have a greater analysis of systems of oppression. if we are to understand the concept that there is no hierarchy of oppression and understand that there are queers holding all sorts of other marginalized identities then if we are working of queer justice we must be working for an entire global justice. to me this means queers need to be anti-capitalist, anti-racist, pro-palestine, and truly committed to solidarity with queers who experience any form of exploitation. personally, i think it's a tragedy when queers and trans folks have conservative politics. i think it damages our community and hurts any movement for real change. assimilation into dominant social norms hurts us just as much as any hate crime.

Posted by: jason | Aug 19, 2008 3:28:26 PM

Im so tired of the Trans activist who held the rest of us hostage. There wasnt enough support for a trans inclusive ENDA, but looked like enough support for GLB? Thanks Trannies for ruining it for the rest of us by hijacking the legislation. Trannies are so self centered and only and I mean ONLY consider thmeselves and never the greater good. They do not consider themselves part of the LGBT community and would ditch us as fast as they could if they could stand on their own..cause remember most of them after reassignment are "Straight"....

Posted by: Ethan | Aug 19, 2008 3:41:20 PM

Jason..you go ahead and be pro palestinian...do you not realize they hate you..and would as soon as cut your head of for be queer as look at you? Sometimes it kills me how ignorant queer people can be...get you head out of your a** and think, oh Im sure your wearing your Che Guevara t- shirt arent you...dont forget he would have killed you as well..dumb a**!!!!

Posted by: Ethan | Aug 19, 2008 3:51:43 PM

As a feminine gay male when I walk down the street people harass me not because they know wh oI have sex with, but because I appear feminine aka gay. So the protections bgased on gender identity and expression are especially important to ALL lgbt people!

Posted by: mark | Aug 19, 2008 6:31:50 PM

Ethan, I love your argument, and your resentment against trans (I'm trans, by-the-way.) It sounds so much like the rhetoric that comes from Matt Barber, Peter LaBarbera, Focus on the Family, etc., directed at trans folk. Did you learn it from them, or does it come naturally?

Trans folk had their own precursor to Stonewall, the Compton's Uprising. Trans were at Stonewall, being targeted by the cops while str8-looking and -acting were being let go. It was trans folk who sparked the crowd to return the violence. It was trans folk who were right there at the beginning of the Gay Rights movement that sprung up in the wake of Stonewall.

It was the trans folk who were seen as a liability by the str8-looking and -acting, and were systematically booted out of the movement in '70 and '71.

It's the trans-folk who have to be out there in front of god and everybody in order to transition, who tend to be lightning rods for homophobia...

I'm reminded of a quote from the book Dune, "He who can destroy a thing controls a thing."

Posted by: Hazumu Osaragi | Aug 19, 2008 7:49:18 PM

"Makes me very uncomfortable, and actually kind of sick to my stomach, I will leave it to others to debate if they wish, but damn that is a really sh**y statement."

Worse in my view is saying to hell with GLB's if Trans are not included. Again I ask, are we to be denied ENDA because the political will isn't there to extend it to T's? Shall we postpone repealing DADT because Trans are not presently included?

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 8:55:37 PM

Jason: Opposition to capitalism and support for Palestinians may have merit in their own right but have absolutely nothing to do with being gay. When you factor in that quite a number of GLBs disagree with you on these, adding them to the mix seems counter-productive at best.

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 8:59:04 PM

"Trannies are so self centered and only and I mean ONLY consider thmeselves and never the greater good."

Such generalizations are rarely helpful or accurate. Some Trans are undoubtedly like you say here, others are not. You have good and bad among all groups of humans. However, I do understand the need to vent at times in frustration even if what is said is unwise at best.

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 9:01:59 PM

Hazumu: Indeed. Yet your struggle is still not the same as ours. Helping each other when prudent and necessary is one thing, angrily holding the other back because of political realities is something entirely different. I'm not willing to wait on ENDA and a repeal of DADT nor do I believe Trans have the right to demand such.

Posted by: John | Aug 19, 2008 9:07:26 PM

Why can't gay activists focus on GAY issues? Good grief! QueerToday is so lame. Boycott QueerToday, they are spending money to fight straight people's battles. Gay people have limited resources and few supporters so we have to find our own battles.

Posted by: Jacob | Aug 19, 2008 9:25:36 PM

Jason, I heartily disagree with you. Not necessarily on each of the items you list (though I do on several of them), but on your overarching idea that being LGB or T (or queer, if you prefer the terminology) must necessarily influence all your other philosophies and politics.

Now, I'd agree that, as part of who you are and part of your identity, it does have a penchant for influencing the way one may look at situations. It has for me, at least post-coming out.

But it makes me very uncomfortable whenever anyone says, "Because you are gay you should believe X, Y, and Z (which, coincidently, are exactly what I, another gay person I might add, believes)." [Where X, Y, and Z are not (directly) LGBT-related.]

Squelching an overall diversity of opinions is normally, I think, a bad idea, because one individual is almost never 100% right on any ONE thing, let alone EVERYTHING.

Posted by: PSUdain | Aug 19, 2008 10:26:16 PM

John et al: This is really a fairly new division, this in-fighting between trans people and gay and lesbian people. We have only really been separating gender identity from sexual object choice for about 140 years, and the division was created by groups of men, writing for men and working towards governments based on male-male love. Unfortunately, this meant they weren't too keen on the women's rights movement. Eugenics, on the other hand, they loved those Eugenics...

My point is this: Look at the way anti-trans gay people (usually men) write about trans activists--calling them angry, demanding, insinuating that they are purposefully hurting the GLB community--when anti-gay activists overreact and make overblown comments about gay people we recognize that it's often partially because of their discomfort with sexuality in general.

Posted by: | Aug 19, 2008 10:48:00 PM

"My point is this: Look at the way anti-trans gay people (usually men) write about trans activists--calling them angry, demanding, insinuating that they are purposefully hurting the GLB community"

Well thats nice isnt it...They derailed ENDA..which hurt the GLB community, why because they are angry, demanding...hello. Cant they see how a majority of GLBT's would have been covered by ENDA, then we could have moved on to a further inclusive ENDA which I support. You can call me an incrementalist or a man...but at least Im I dont live in a fairy tale world. Washington is a HARD place to get much done, so when we had the chance they blew it..come on, get your head out of your a** and see it for what it was..

And Im soooooo tired of that argument about my discomfort with sexuality...Ive known a lot of trannies and they are bitchy and hateful and demanding...not all I realize this. I am not uncomfortable, that may make you feel safe to say so you dont have to face the truth.. The LGBT community is like a big ole disfuctional family..and like family you know how each other are..but you still love one another..Dont be afraid to speak the truth...

Posted by: Ethan | Aug 19, 2008 11:50:13 PM

Whoa I so thought Ethan was being really sarcastic and funny in his first post in response to John’s statement. Wow, when did the Christian right gain so many gay converts?

Posted by: Randy | Aug 20, 2008 9:14:28 AM

Sorry to interrupt Ethan's charming and hasty tirade with a calm and rational response, but I felt the need to throw in a word or two about roles within a movement. When I worked for a statewide LGBT lobbying organization, my boss used to say that the movement needs all its people, radical queers and Log Cabins alike. There's a place in politics for every kind of response. Queer Today has stated that it aims to create dialog within the queer (or LGBT, if you prefer) community, both the social and political scenes of it. In protesting the HRC, they are not trying to remove the HRC from its place in queer politics. Not at all. How could you, short of physically dismantling the organization itself? No, rather, they are occupying the same role within the community that activist lobbyists do in our government. You get your constituency (in HRC's case, queer folk) together, and you make some noise to let them know what you think is important and how many people care about it. If ten people in the community think it's important to consider the struggle for trans rights, well, then HRC probably doesn't have much of a reason to listen. But if a significant portion of the community is standing up and saying "No, what you did on ENDA was wrong," with QT's help organizing the gesture, then it's in their interest as our primary representatives to the federal government to consider what the community has expressed concern for. Naturally, those who want to cut transfolk out of the movement (and I do mean "cut." Gender non-conformists were with us at Stonewall, just as they are now) are welcome to voice their opinion, as well. But claiming that conservative gays or radical queers or transfolk of any political persuasion don't belong in the queer political effort? We NEED each other, folks. This is OUR struggle.

Posted by: Brendan D. | Aug 20, 2008 9:23:53 AM

Those who would be suggesting that the T's separate from the LGB's and that the trans-people need working harder pushing "their own" agenda and concerns has really gotten me angry. First of all, I should ask, "how many of you can say that you have done all you can fighting for LGBT rights?" I mean outside of blogging or attending a protest or calling a legislator or two?

I can tell you what I have done and every night before I go to sleep I beat myself up for not having done more. I gave up the last 8 years of my life and my job to fight for marriage equality and LGBT issues here in Massachusetts and nationwide. I am not on salary, my non-profit brings in NO money, we all work gratis. My primary business has lost about 40% of its income because its principle, me, is not as involved. But I would do it again and again and again with no regrets.

All throughout the battles that I have fought for marriage equality, hate crimes (legislation and real), fighting the conservatives etc. I had to hear even from my closest friends, "you need to educate people, you need to win their hearts and minds, you need to show yourself as the perfect little couple, etc etc." Everyone had some sort of "constructive" criticism. To me it was all bullshit, I don't need to sell the idea of gays conforming to some "perfect marriage model" to anyone--everyone defines his or her marriage to him or herself and their partner. I don't need to sell to you that I AM a human being and should have protections from having my head being bashed in...if I tell a straight man that he looks handsome today, that should not mean he has the right to get scared and follow me home and beat the shit out of me. My creedo has always been that LGBT people are Americans and Human Beings and we deserve, demand, all the rights and privileges that comes with and are that are afforded the majority of other Americans.

So when the topic of ENDA came up and the battle of trans-inclusion started, it was a no brainer for me and many others who participated in the Unified group for trans-inclusion. We are talking about a bill which would protect people from being fired or thrown out of housing because an employer or landlord doesnt like what someone looks like or how they act (naturally). What am I missing here? Why do trans-people need to sell themselves in order to get those protections as taxpaying American citizens?

If Congress doesn't understand such a simple principle as this, don't blame trans-people, don't blame those who do understand, blame Congress. If the HRC can't sell this basic American concept to Congress, again, don't blame trans-people and dont' blame the rest of us who will stand with trans-people as fellow human beings and fellow Americans.

Posted by: Tom Lang | Aug 20, 2008 9:42:37 AM

There is a place in our movement for all types, I agree, but when one group derails a momentous history making event that would benefit all of us because they don't like it, that amounts to hijacking...

And wow because I have a different opinion Im part of the christian right??

Posted by: Ethan | Aug 20, 2008 10:01:04 AM

I don't really think it was the "trannies," as you call them Ethan, who singlehandedly derailed what would have been a great gain for GLB people--it was transgender folk and their allies, cisgender, genderqueer, and etc. And we allies are numerous. I mean, it seems the HRC was the only really major GLBT organization that was actually on board with the non-inclusive ENDA. So if what anti-trans gays want to do is vilify a small minority group who they don't really like that much anyway, for personal reasons or whatever reason, I think they're going to be fighting a losing battle. Most gay activists were against a non-inclusive ENDA. The queer community as a whole derailed the non-inclusive ENDA, not just those crazy trannies ;o)

Honestly, I think it's anti-trans gay men who are in the minority here.

Posted by: Nancy | Aug 20, 2008 12:24:14 PM

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