Starvoice • 05.27.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Heidi Klum turns 38 on Wednesday. The model turned TV host and producer changed the way we look at the fashion world with her very popular Project Runway. Because of the show, some gay designers have gone to be stars of their own like Austin Scarlett, Santino Rice and season four winner Christian Siriano. A Runway all-stars is apparently in the works.

…………………….

THIS WEEK

Mercury squaring Neptune in Pisces while entering Gemini inflates wonderfully imaginative notions. Jupiter entering Taurus could ground them and find profitable applications. Jupiter in Taurus for the next year should_ be good for the economy. It will be good for bankers at least.

…………………….

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Get creative. You have big challenges in the next year. Your intuition is now unusually sharp to see how you can turn those into opportunities. Spiritual guidance can be especially helpful now.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Dreams lure you too easily into never-never-lands of fantasy and escape. Sharing some of those phantasmagorical reveries with friends can help you find some practical outlet for them.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Remember the difference between dreams and goals. Friends encouraging you to chase after your dreams offer helpful inspiration, but don’t let them distract you from practical aims.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your brain is buzzing with schemes for success. Your partner encourages all your wildest ideas. Not. You need a leveler head with a bit of critical distance to give you pragmatic advice.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Expansive, fortunate Jupiter is starting a year in your house of sex. The deeper you go the greater the rewards. Don’t be shy. Neither is without risks, but Jupiter is good to have on your side.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You and your sweetie are due for some frolic. That could open up some questions and confusion. Keeping communications clear is a small challenge. The rewards are well worth it.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
Job opportunities open up for you. Have faith in yourself. If familial encouragement is unrealistic, don’t worry about letting them down for what’s in the real world. If you’re happy, they are too.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re way too open to distractions and thus, accidents. Mediation, poetry, music or art will get you back in balance. Take classes in any of those . You need new ways of seeing the world.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Struggle between your deepest desires and economic necessity feels brutal. A light, playful conversation with your partner  can help you find a way to afford your dreams, or find reconciliation.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Whatever you have to offer, make it heard and known. Your family will back you up in your endeavors, but you really need to be very clear on who you are and what it is you’ve got.
ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Your recent lucky spree will focus more on financial fortune. Mad dreams and inspirations offer some clues. Talk out your crazy notions with friends and find a way to bring them to the bank.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Recent hard times turn around. Cash in on your good fortune. Turn your friends’ suggestions into practical ideas. Inspirations now point the way to future fulfillment of your dreams.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas

Makeup artist Tony Price is hoppy to be our Easter cover boy

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Tony Price, 20

Spotted at: Intersection of Lemmon and McKinney

Occupation: Student in cosmetology and makeup; model

Born in Tulsa, this tall, fit Virgo moved here from Tangipahoa Parrish, La., five months ago to continue his education in cosmetology and make-up. Tony grew up the middle son between two sisters, and in school excelled in track and field, and he continues to stay in shape by running and lifting weights. He enjoys meditation, dance, the arts and, of course, makeup.

Tony remembers the fifth grade very well. That was the year a cousin, who was then in cosmetology school, sparked an interest in him becoming interested in doing hair. His grandmother, a fabulous cook, tempted him to consider a career in the culinary arts, but makeup won out and Tony continues his education to become an artist extraordinaire. His goal is to own his own spa and become celebrated for his cosmetic skills.

Tony will spend his Easter with family, sharing good times and a great meal that he will cook himself.

—  John Wright

Kerry Eleveld takes on the false choice between ENDA and marriage

Very thoughtful piece from Kerry taking on the idea that we can’t move forward on ENDA and marriage at that same time:

A potentially divisive debate is emerging among some LGBT activists that sets up a false choice between pushing for employment nondiscrimination protections or marriage equality at the federal level. I roundly reject the notion that this is an either-or proposition. As a community, we can and should work on both issues over the next two years. But it’s fair to say that while I personally believe these two issues are equally as important, they are not equally situated, and therefore the strategies we must employ to advance them are distinctly different.

She also addresses a key point. We still don’t know really know why there wasn’t even a vote in committee on ENDA:

Of course, some discussions are beginning to happen now, but I don’t believe we have really illuminated the problem yet. I have heard people suggest that we had enough votes to pass the legislation in the House but never got that vote because the clock ran out. Some have also hypothesized that DADT repeal and health care sucked up too much time in the schedule to leave room for ENDA.

From my perspective, this cannot possibly be the whole story. If we truly had the votes in the House and yet failed to move the bill through committee to the floor, then that was a serious strategic misstep even if it would have stalled in the Senate. Bills live and die by momentum. They get a chief sponsor and then more sponsors and then a committee vote and then a floor vote. And maybe they don’t pass both chambers one Congress, but if they make it through one, they are better poised to pass through both next time around.

So if we did have the votes and our advocates (lawmakers and groups included) didn’t press the issue, that was a critical error. And the idea that there just wasn’t room in the calendar because of DADT and health care seems like a red herring as well. Health care was completed in the House in March of 2010. Attaching “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal to the Defense authorization bill took place two months later in May, but that was it — the House had the votes and was ready to go, they were mostly waiting on the Senate Armed Services Committee to line up the votes. So something doesn’t add up.

Rather than pointing fingers here, I am simply pointing out that we are miles away from having the full story about ENDA’s demise and I don’t see how we can possibly expect to develop a strategy around an issue that we can’t seem to discuss in full candor.

Something went wrong. Our so-called advocates aren’t being frank.

It is completely realistic — even for those sophisticated advocates who are “realistic” — to move forward on both ENDA and marriage. We have to — and can. Both ENDA and marriage equality are needed to make sure we are truly equal.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

When allies zero in on the cozy relationship between the WH and HRC, it’s game over

Over at Firedoglake, Jane Hamsher is saying what we uncouth LGBT bloggers of dissent have been saying all along — the cozy relationship between the HRC and the Obama administration serves to primarily to boost Democratic party interests ahead of policy advances for the LGBT community.

Michael Petrelis made this observation about the Valerie Jarrett “lifestyle choice flap:

On Wednesday when Jarrett’s comments roiled the gay community and progressive bloggers, thousands of words were spilled from all sides about her remarks, but America’s largest gay Democratic advocacy org, the HRC, had not a peep to say about it all. Of course, no sane person would expect HRC, after slavishly avoiding even the mildest and meekest bit of criticism against the Obama administration’s screwing of the gay community without a rubber or any lube, to issue a rebuke to Jarrett. She is after all, a Democrat and HRC executives would rather walk barefoot on glass than slam a Democrat.

Jane echoed the same sentiment below.

The much greater problem is that the comments do reveal Jarrett to be unfamiliar with the discourse in the LGBT community for the past 40 years. Which doesn’t make her a leper either – it’s hard to be up on the crosscurrents of every community all the time. The problem is that Jarrett is ultimately in charge of LGTB relations at the White House. Brian Bond, the LGBT liaison and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, reports directly to her.

Josh Gerstein writes today that Rahm Emanuel was the one in the White House who “sought to avoid a showdown with the military over the issue.” As Obama was making critical decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan, he “didn’t want the process derailed by the culturally freighted gays-in-the-military fight.”

So when White House senior staff were discussing how to proceed on DADT, who was the one tasked with representing the concerns of the LGTB community? Who answered Rahm on their behalf? Ultimately in the White House food chain, that was Jarrett.

And once again, this brings us back to the problem of the veal pen. The White House chooses “friendly” groups who won’t force them into uncomfortable positions to represent the concerns of various constituencies. The Center for Biological Diversity isn’t invited to the Tuesday Common Purpose meetings, the Sierra Club is. If choice groups want to express their concerns to the White House, they have to go through NARAL’s Nancy Keenan. And when the White House wants to interact with LGBT groups, they communicate with (and through) the HRC.

Which is why it’s extremely troubling that the HRC goes after Republican Joe Buck for his comments on “lifestyle choice,” but doesn’t speak up when Jarrett does the same. I agree that Buck uses the words with the same intent as Tony Perkins – to demean gay people and justify his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s much, much worse than anything Jarrett did. But Joe Buck isn’t in charge of anything.

HRC covers Obama’s left flank. They are the principal communicators with the White House, and they’re not communicating. They use their clout and resources to marginalize LGTB activists who criticize the White House, branding them as “extreme” and “irrational” within the community. They clearly see their roles as Democratic operatives who insulate the White House from the heat being applied at the grassroots level, and use LGBT issues to advance the Democratic Party’s agenda.

When the progressive allies of our community (who are dealing with the failures of this administration to properly address myriad issues) are blogging about how rank and blatant the LGBT shell game is that is going on, it really is game over. Joe and Co. at HRC have pulled the wool over the eyes of no one (save the die-hard Obama supporters) during these last two years.

And this is why we have written criticism about this WH and Gay Inc. on the Blend at length and in detail for quite some time. What is extremely trying is having to deal with apologists who want to, in advance, blame the messenger for reduced turnout at the polls or suppressing voter interest.

Ahem — it’s the actions of those purportedly working on our behalf in the WH and lobbying the Hill that have let us down. Discussing those shortcomings on this blog has always been accompanied by calls to vote, to go out and support pro-equality officials running for office — and to keep the gAyTM closed for organizations that aren’t doing their jobs and holding feet to the fire of those in the White House who are obstructionists. You’d think that for all of the millions HRC pulls in each year it would at least educate Jarrett and other people of influence who are woefully out of touch with the problems we face out here.

HRC continues to churn out nice press releases and e-blasts, and focus on NOM and other non-legislative matters, hoping to distract from the very fact that its DADT repeal strategy has failed; we’re left with only the courts moving the ball forward, and a Senate that has no chance of passing the weakened measure in the Def Auth bill that doesn’t even stop the discharges. ENDA is dead for this year, DOMA’s going nowhere (other than becoming an issue because of DADT).

What we’ve pointed out is that the system is broken – not that we don’t need a HRC, but that the leadership has failed, and when that happens in the real world, heads roll, there’s a shakeup within, and those who are working at the ground level have to have their morale restored by seeing assertive leadership that will challenge the White House. The question I always think about is this clear ambivalence we see – does HRC believe the LGBT community has clout or not– which is it? Going by what we’ve learned, through leaks and reporting by the LGBT media, it’s not clear.

The WH certainly wouldn’t know that we’re anything other than we’re an ATM; no threats are made. We don’t even know if HRC believes it could marshal a serious threat that the WH would take seriously. So it’s back to the niceties said at the annual dinner, the invites to the next social function that takes precedence. We’re left with the goose egg on the big ticket items and some appreciated, but almost all non-permanent Cinderella Crumbs as a consolation prize.

Does the HRC board believe in accountability and performance? This year presents a challenge — if they’ve been paying attention at all. There are really “no excuses” left, to use a phrase appropriated by HRC for its campaign from The Dallas Principles to sell more T-Shirts. It’s always about smoke and mirrors to make it look like something politically fierce is going on. Of course there’s nothing wrong if something is actually going on, but watching the back-patting, for instance, regarding the back-channel compromising on DADT to save it from complete death is the symptom of the problem. No fear, no gain. Ask the NRA.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Rick Grimes Versus Andrew Lincoln, A Battle Between Real And Imagined Zombie-Related Ruggedness

Andrew-lincoln-as-rick-grimes-in-the-walking-dead-1

In anticipation of AMC's new series, The Walking Dead, I spent a good chunk of my weekend reading the Robert Kirkman-written Image Comics graphic version, which follows police officer Rick Grimes' journey through a Zombie-ridden world.

As I look forward to the show, and more installments of the comic, I'm wondering if any one out there's pondering what I am: Is real life actor Andrew Lincoln as attractive as artist Tony Moore's original rendition of the fictional character? Follow-up question: Am I strange for finding an imaginary comic book character attractive?

And, finally, a recommendation: read The Walking Dead. Sure, there are some zombie cliches, but it's actually a truly compelling book. So, too, is DC's Scalped, which also deserves to be made into a series, although would need the adult-ready ratings available at HBO or Showtime.

UPDATE: I just read issue #36 of Scalped and see it's getting into gay territory. How will [censored] survive on the reservation as a gay man?


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Minnesota Archbishop: ‘There is no difference between the civil and religious definition of marriage…’

Minnesota Catholics’ aggressively anti-gay DVD campaign is currently traversing the state, mailbox to mailbox, marking the biggest waste of postage since the time its publishers mistakenly sent Guns & Ammo magazine to the Illiterate Pacifist Society’s entire mailing list. But regardless of how wasteful, cruel, unprovoked, and unnecessary this anti-civil rights campaign may be, it is now out of the proverbial barn, hoping to lay the same kind of groundwork that the Catholic community, egged on by the National Organization For Marriage, has built in several other states prior to putting gays’ basic equality to a public vote. So that means we have to deal with it.

That being the reality, we’re now going to ask you to listen to a man who’s already proving himself to be the Catholic figurehead of any potential anti-equality campaign that may arise, St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt. Here he walks to Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Crann about why, exactly, he thinks that he and his fellow followers of the Catholic faith have a right to define the CIVIL marriage contract for everyone else:



*Full Transcript: Archbishop John Nienstedt on Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage [MPR]

No no — this attempt to stop civil marriage licensing based on the ancillary component of religious ceremony is not political. Except, of course, for the fact that it TOTALLY IS!

Seriously — How can this man sit here and act like this, a push for a referendum in a largely partisan fight that attempts to misguide citizens on the proper role of the legislature and/or judiciary and that always relies on political consultants and strategists for its fear-mongery “success” at the polls, is not a political action!? You don’t hear this writer, focused almost exclusively as I am on civil law and politics, trying to have it both ways by saying that I’m part of the Catholic Church, since every time I eat saltines with grape juice I take a de facto Holy Communion. If Nienstedt is gonna have his wafer and his conference calls with Maggie Gallagher too, then the least the Archbishop could do for all us gay folk is to honestly assess his own faith-based AND poll-based actions!

***

*This part, edited out of the above audio but included in the transcript, certainly piqued our interest:

Crann: Your position at the end of your statement on the DVD is remarkably like an email I received today telling me about an ad that’s been released by the National Organization for Marriage supporting Republican candidate Tom Emmer and his position. And so I’m wondering how is this position not partisan politics, especially timed as it is, six weeks before the election?

Nienstedt: Well, we, and I’m particularly, are very scrupulous about not endorsing any candidate of any party. That’s not our position. That’s not our right. We would certainly never tell people who to vote for, but the issues themselves are critical issues. And as a religious leader in this state, as a pastoral leader, I have a right to raise the issues and bring that to the attention of my people.

Interesting that Crann notes the similar language, because we’d be willing to bet considerable money that whatever “anonymous person” financed this DVD campaign has extremely cozy or even direct ties with NOM. We all know that NOM, already with a shocking number of ethics investigations surrounding them, will be nothing but cagey about whatever ties they might have. It’s up to us to pry.

***

*NOTE: If anyone has a connection to the Minnesota Catholic church, please get us a copy of the DVD, pronto!




Good As You

—  John Wright

Clearly There Is Major Sexual Tension Between Bill Clinton + Rachel Maddow

But she’s sanctimonious and intolerant of anyone who disagrees with her. So, if it’s Bill Clinton, she calls him a Republican because he doesn’t meet Rachel Maddow’s test. So, the worst element of our party are people who call themselves liberal who are actually illiberal because they are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them.

—Lanny Davis, former counsel to Bill Clinton, getting back at Rachel Maddow for her six-month-old comments calling Bill Clinton the "best Republican president the country has ever produced." The timing is perfect, since Clinton just got done saying, about Republicans, "A lot of their candidates today, they make [President George W. Bush] look like a liberal." Oh, and this:

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

The Stupid Rap Feud Between Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj Didn’t Ruin Atlanta Black Gay Pride

Lil' Kim insists her camp never authorized a performance at this year's Atlanta Black Gay Pride, where she appeared last year, but that a random fellow pretending to be her rep agreed to a ,000 fee to get her to perform. But is it all just a scheme by the pint-sized rapper to get out of an event that Nicki Minaj, the sometimes bisexual incoming queen b, would be headlining.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Between Floating and Leeching: The Financial Struggle of the LGBT Activist

NOTE FROM PAM: I have comments about this topic below the fold.


Crossposted on ZackFord blogs

This is a post about making sausage. If you are in any way involved in queer activism, I hope you'll at least give it some thought.

Let's say you want to dedicate a certain portion of your life to supporting LGBT equality. You have a number of options. The most common option, I expect, would be that individuals volunteer. They sing in a gay men's chorus, they spend some time volunteering in their LGBT community center, they help organize Pride festivals or other events, etc. These are individuals who are sustaining themselves financially through jobs not related to LGBT work who find extra time to help the movement.

For others, the priority might be higher. Some might be eager and ready to dedicate their whole lives to LGBT work. They look for jobs in LGBT campus centers (like I am), or go work for organizations in the movement like HRC or NGLTF, or find other ways locally to devote themselves. Some might even be full-time activists who are financially supported for the work they do blogging, speaking, or organizing direct action. (I doubt there are many examples of people who can support themselves as full-time bloggers; certainly only the most-trafficked would be capable of doing so.)

So that raises the question: Should people get paid for LGBT work? A student by the name of Nonnie Ouch at Texas Tech doesn't think so, and wrote a letter lambasting Lt. Dan Choi for charging too much for his speaking engagements:

 


However, I’ve lost all respect for you as a gay- and human-rights activist. In the course of my two short years as an activist in the communities I have lived in, I have met amazing people such as Irene Andrews, C.d. Kirven and Michael Robinson, who travel from city to city, state to state with their own money and ask NOTHING from those who request their speaking services. These people, like myself, live, breath and eat queer activism. They live to inspire others. They live to show the compassion of love to others. They have not lost sight of what is truly important here: equality for all.

You, sir, have lost sight in one of those many ,000 checks written to you, of why you came out and became an activist in the first place. Remember, Lt. Choi? LOVE IS WORTH IT. LOVE is worth cutting a deal to poor college kids in an extremely conservative city who’s only desire is to make headway in their community. LOVE is worth sacrificing money to give my friends and others who are currently serving in silence the hope to remember they are worth it. Love isn’t made by money. Love isn’t made by your agent, Alec Melman. Love isn’t tangible when you’re suffocated by greed as you are. Love is constantly flowing through the heart and brain. Love is giving. Love isn’t defined by financial status, color, gender, creed, age or sexual orientation.

Now, I cannot speak to Nonnie's experience trying to book Dan nor the treatment received from Dan's agent. Nonetheless, I'm going to say here that I think Nonnie's comments are out of line and ignore the reality of our movement.

Where there is money in our movement, it is concentrated. Joe Solmonese can wear his fancy suits and host his posh cocktail parties while others are doing their best with grassroots activism and direct action that is essentially unfunded. Joe can afford to take time from his work duties to travel while other activists are taking time off for their activism. I think a lot of folks fall somewhere in the middle.

Gays aren't rich. We don't all have posh lofts in NYC >a la Will Truman. A lot of us are scraping by. There is a limit to how much we can do before we need to get paid if we're going to do anymore. Certainly, there are "professional volunteers" doing as much as—if not more than—many who are gay for pay. They can afford to.

Nonnie mentions people who travel "with their own money." Where does that money come from? It seems to me there is an incredible assumption of socioeconomic privilege in that statement. There's just this expectation that people should have money (from where?) and all the activism should be on them.

Well, that's not realistic. Some people make their living on the speaker circuit. Some work for the movement and depend upon it for their livelihood. And like it or not, the stereotype that the gay community is well off permeates within the community as well. In many ways, the vision we have of a worthwhile activist is someone who can afford to take the time and can still look good doing the work.

Now, there is a lot we don't know about this story. We don't know if Dan has any other source of income. We don't know how Dan plans to use the money. We don't know what constraints the agent has put on the booking. I think it is safe to say that Dan's goal is not to focus on speaking. Maybe he doesn't want to speak much and the agent thinks because of his "celebrity" status that ,000 is what schools ought to pay to bring in Dan. We're not privy to those details, but I think the ambiguity about it all speaks to the rashness of Nonnie's letter.

Dan is just a person, like the rest of us. He sacrificed his career to further our movement, and surely he brought a lot of positive attention to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a way no one ever really has. I would go so far as to say we owe him, particularly considering he has continued to work on our behalf. He's not getting a military paycheck anymore; we know that much.

I'm willing to give Dan the benefit of the doubt. Is his cost to speak high? Yes. But it is what it is. It's not like Dan is living the high and glamorous life of the HRC execs. As far as I know, he's just trying to get by. Is every school going to be able to afford to bring him? Maybe not. But plenty have, and I was lucky enough to see one of those engagements. They build coalitions on campus, work with neighboring campuses, and they make it work.

I'm sorry it didn't work out at Texas Tech, but is Dan to blame? I don't think so. I'm sure Nonnie feels disappointed that the efforts to bring Dan were in vain, and maybe there was disrespect on the agent's part. It's not inconceivable. But Dan is a big celebrity right now. There are a ton of great people who are local or less A-list that could have easily been just as powerful and inspiring to the campus community. It's not Dan's fault that Dan is doing what Dan needs to do for Dan. Even if Dan's cost or his agent's dealings are out of line, Dan is human and can learn and grow. It is out of line to suggest that something this inane compromises all of his previous and continued activism.

If anything, Nonnie's comments perhaps speak to a sense of entitlement, suggesting Dan hasn't done enough and he now needs to give even more for the Texas Tech community. This just does not seem fair to what Dan has already done for us.

We have to get to a point where we appreciate the need for balance. There are those in the movement who depend on the movement's support just to keep afloat while others leech more than they need. Ultimately, I think it's more important that we measure activists by what they accomplish and what they give. If they're taking more than they've earned, that's one thing. But it's not Lt. Dan Choi.


Thoughts from Pam: I’d like to thank Zack for this diary. It’s a measured approach to a thorny topic in the community, with Dan just being the stand-in for “Activist Person X” at this moment and time. I wanted to add my two cents to the post on the topic.

Zack gets to core of the the problem with our community (and the larger progressive community) with this statement:

Nonnie mentions people who travel “with their own money.” Where does that money come from? It seems to me there is an incredible assumption of socioeconomic privilege in that statement. There’s just this expectation that people should have money (from where?) and all the activism should be on them.

Why are activists expected to take vows of poverty in this equality movement? Actually, that’s not a correct statement — there are a significant number of people who do earn a nice living in what can be described as a spectrum of activism — and many others who are already wealthy who participate through donations and/or sitting on boards. And many luminaries in our movement work for a pittance; retirement is not an option.

But as I’ve described many times here on the Blend (and on panel discussions about monetization of blogs), these assumptions by people like Nonnie are quite common.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to speak or serve on a panel and I’m expected to do it on my own time and dime. Think about it, clearly someone or some entity thinks my presence is valuable in some way or I wouldn’t be invited at all.

At this point in time in the success of PHB, it’s not uncommon that I’m featured as the “name” panelist or serving as a proxy for “the new media person” or “the LGBT person” or sadly, still “the black blogger person.” They hit multiple demographics with one shot; I’m not stupid.

I think the expectation of a “free ride” on the financial backs of activists in our community is sometimes just a matter of not thinking much about it. But back to the sorry “travel with their own money” issue.

Based on my personal experience only, these are assumptions I’ve seen.

1. I blog full-time as my job. Well, PHB is a full-time blog, but I have a full-time day job unrelated to LGBT activism (at Duke University Press; I am not getting rich in academic publishing).

2. I am readily available. That is, to appear somewhere to speak, liveblog, consult, blog breaking news, whatever. Um, no. See number 1. If I’m at work 5 days a week, with roughly 3 weeks off a year, that means I’m not available most of the time. I have to use paid time off most of the time to do blog-related things.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t have any more paid time off because I used almost all of it on blog travel; in order to go to Netroots Nation, take that long-needed Maine vacation, and now to go this week to BlogHer, I am going in the hole, docked for taking 3 weeks off.

3. I am making tons of money on ads. Some orgs and people get that I have to work a day job to subsidize my work on PHB, but assume that the ad revenue is just rolling in. Well, PHB does well enough to fund travel and lodging for engagements that I (or a barista) really want to attend. And btw, that’s without any honorarium even when travel is covered (more on that later). PHB doesn’t run beefcake or porn ads (which would boost revenue tremendously), so that’s a choice that has reduced potential revenue streams.

Also, PHB is sending three people to Southern Comfort this year. That was a decision made early on because it is an event rarely given sufficient coverage by the LGBT media. It’s an expensive conference, from registration to travel and lodging and a big chunk out of the revenue for the year. Autumn is moderating a panel, so one registration fee was waived. Otherwise, it’s all coming out of the Blend’s ad revenue. I’m ok with this, but it does mean we’re selective about which conferences. All of the baristas here spend money out of their own pockets as well.

In the end, even if we were rolling in ad revenue or supported otherwise, it won’t create more TIME for activism as long as one needs a full-time primary job.

4. That “someone should fund” PHB. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this statement. That’s at least an acknowledgment that the work here at PHB is valuable in some way. Yes, that would be nice, but no entity has offered to do so, lol. There are a few major problems with this.

* Editorial control. I’m not willing to give that up.

* Grant-based/time limited funding. I’m not willing to give up a stable day job with great health insurance for that level of risk (particularly with my pre-existing conditions).

* Relocating. Part of the reason PHB has flourished is because I’m not based in DC, NY, LA, etc. I’m living in a place where the reality of legal inequality bites hard, and I’ve encountered many an activist from Blue states with significantly more rights who has forgotten what it’s like to live where legal oppression at all levels is a reality. I don’t want to be assimilated into Beltway culture, for example. It’s toxic, cutthroat and professionally incestuous. Besides, I know if Kate and I sold our 3BR/2BA house and had to move to NY or DC, we’d end up in a cramped studio with our two dogs. The cost of living is that different.

So the problems are partially self-imposed; the question is, are those terms I’ve set reasonable or not? Am I being “selfish” for not risking any more of myself for the movement? It is an interesting conversation to have, and I’m up for it.

5. Honoraria. This seems to be the real sticking point in discussions about the “value” of LGBT activism as a full-time endeavor. What is an activist’s time worth, and what value does the community hold in this person’s contribution to the movement? It’s all relative. Do a Google search for speakers bureaus, and you’ll see a wide range of prices for folks on those rosters.

I was pretty floored a month or two ago to be asked to speak at a university and was offered an honorarium for the first time. Yes, that’s right, after six years writing at PHB my first paid engagement (the event hasn’t occurred yet; I don’t have an agent, btw). And it wasn’t anywhere near Dan Choi’s fee, which is appropriate given his level of celebrity and personal sacrifice compared to mine.

So is it evil to take the honorarium? It sounds like for some in our movement, it is a problematic situation – as if the funds are affording a high life or doesn’t get rolled back into more activism. I’m not sure why this generates more public criticism than someone joining a consulting firm or think tank that frees them to be able to speak, write or continue their chosen form of activism. Well, I could be wrong about that one — that would probably cause a piety eruption as well.

Perhaps the problem is a class issue as well – what is perceived as “getting rich” by one person is “just getting by” by another.

It’s all a matter of perspective, but I think the discussion itself is healthy, and commenter ebohlman’s points from Kos’s Crashing the Gates are salient about lowball LGBT activism:

[I]f progressive organizations don’t offer career-level jobs, then all the work is going to be done by:

1) Idealistic young people. The problem here is that by the time they gain enough experience to be really useful, they’re reaching a point in their lives where a “roommates and ramen” lifestyle is no longer tolerable, so they quit.

2) Trust-fund kids. They can be fickle, often bring distorted perspectives, and want to work on pet issues that may not really align with the organization’s priorities.

3) Eccentrics who have difficulty working with other people. Again, there’s the problem of pet issues as well as the inability to engage with the public.

Successful progressive organizations are always going to have some people in those categories, but it’s hard to be successful when nearly all your people are in them.

So what we need is a frank conversation about whether our movement is best served with the above model or not, and whether there is an ethical problem with burning out and cycling through people “for the cause.” Is there a middle ground we can all agree on, or is the class bridge so raggedy that no one wants to stand on it to discuss the issues and able to feel safe?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright