In the streets, or the 'halls of power'?

Posted on 01 Dec 2008 at 10:28am

Since John Wright’s Thanksgiving Day post here on Instant Tea about Blake Wilkinson and his planned protest outside the Mormon bookstore here in Dallas, in which John described Wilkinson as a militant, several people have left posts defending Wilkinson and his in-your-face style. Many of them have also lambasted the high-dollar “rubber chicken” dinners and auctions. They said we need more militancy and less of the fundraising and back-room politics organizations.

Another commented that “If we depended on pissy dinners and blind auctions during the 80’s…about 1/2 of us wouldn’t be here today.”

I have been a journalist for more than 26 years now, and I have spent about 20 of those years in the LGBT media. I have seen a lot of history happening. And speaking from that perspective, I want to warn those who would abandon all else to focus solely on militant, in-your-face, in-the-street activism.

I have been thinking a lot about just this subject for several weeks now, ever since Prop 8 passed. And first of all, I agree, we need more people “in the streets,” confronting bigotry in a loud, proud voice and demanding change. We had that in the 80s and even the early 90s, but it has really died down over the last 10 or 15 years.

But we also need those people walking in the halls of power, raising as much money as possible and using that financial clout to work behind the scenes and grease the wheels, so to speak, to get things done and make progress.

Neither approach alone will get the job done.

I have heard a lot of criticism against the Human Rights Campaign in recent weeks. Some people are putting all the blame for Prop 8 and other defeats on the shoulders of HRC and other groups like Equality California. But I think those organizations have probably been trying to do their part — the big money, behind the scenes gentle persuasion role — and it hasn’t been working because the in-the-street militants were not doing their part. The demonstrations didn’t start, remember, until Prop 8 had already passed. And one group can’t play both roles without diminishing the effectiveness of both.

I am not saying HRC is perfect. They aren’t. But I do wish that both sides of the LGBT rights movement would recognize the necessity of the other, and that the two would work more effectively together.

Just a thought.

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments