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When it comes to anti-gay politicking, this Empire strikes back

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 1-108Last night, this writer had the pleasure of attending the fall dinner of New York's finest gay advocacy organization, the Empire State Pride Agenda. It was a night of hope. A night of optimism. But most importantly, it was a night of standing up and unapologetically fighting for what is RIGHT!

I understand that as a Manhattanite, my opinion of an NYC-based group might rightfully seemed biased. However, I must say that in all honesty: I truly LOVE this organization. Through G-A-Y, I have the privilege of dealing with a vast number of LGBT groups on both the national and state levels. ESPA stands out for one simple reason: They actually stand up and FIGHT in ways like no other! They don't wait to respond. They don't survey the land and carve out a message that will best suit the current administration or mesh with public opinion polls. They truly seem to let their consciences guide their work, and to speak from two perfectly reconciled origins: Their brains and their hearts. In doing so, they get results.

Also, ESPA does something that might sound silly to those who don't know their HTML from their WXYZ, but which I have a feeling will resonate with those who dedicate their lives to online activism. That is: ESPA runs a blog wherein they are not -- and this is unfortunately quite revolutionary -- afraid to link to those in the netroots community who are dedicating their days and nights to fighting the good fight. All too often we see LGBT groups launch online outreaches in which their primary goal seems to be keeping "the message" firmly under their control. For ESPA, this lordship over the talking points seems to be of far less concern than bringing to light the passionate voices who are rocking this boat because they realize that it needs to be rocked! So for selfish reasons, I have always held ESPA in high esteem for recognizing and supporting the changing landscape of LGBT activism. It is a point from which even our most well-financed national groups could learn a lesson.

But back to last night's event: Assembly member Daniel O'Donnell inspired the massive, diverse crowd. NY first lady Silda Wall Spizer adequately represented her husband in absentia, while also carving out her own rightful place in the pantheon of progressive politics. ESPA Executive Director Alan Van Capelle gave the sort of rousing speech that is truly the stuff of political myth. Emcee Caroline Rhea was delightful and witty (even with her hair issues). And activist and fellow blogger David Mixner closed the night with a speech so poignant and stirring, you would think he was running for the presidency (if we lived in a nation that demanded of their candidates poignancy and ingenuity rather than canned talking points and non-controversial stances). It was a truly inspiring evening courtesy of a truly inspiring organization.

If you don't know ESPA, click the link below to learn more. If you do know them, click the link and make a promise to support their future endeavors in any way you can. New York has historically led the way on righteous fights, and this time will be no different. It's good to know that the state has a group worthy of the place in the history books of which they will ultimately lay claim!

Empire State Pride Agenda [ESPA]

Some very amateur iPhone photos after the jump...

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Your thoughts

This Upstate New Yorker (Rochester) feels the same about the good people at Empire State Pride. They consistantly do excellent for the LGBT community.

In fact, I'll go a step farther and say the woefully flawed, Human Rights Campaign, could learn a thing or two from Empire State Pride when it comes to activism.

Posted by: Christopher | Oct 14, 2007 10:11:06 AM

Like ESPA, The Family Equality Council (formerly Family Pride) understands the value of the blogosphere and its impact on the movement. Kudos to ESPA for recognizing the power of this community of connected activists.

Posted by: David Jacques, Family Equality Council | Oct 15, 2007 10:24:17 AM

Yes, David, your organization absolutely understands. And thank you for that!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 15, 2007 10:36:38 AM

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