July 17, 2007

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us

If you remember that line from the old "Pogo" cartoon, you're dating yourself, but that can be our little secret. That's the point made by this column on The Bilerico Project by guest writer Michael Crawford (an African-American activist, not the Broadway singer).

Crawford is concerned with the amount of infighting he sees among progressive LGBT activists right now, especially with the hate crimes bill ready to come up for a vote in the Senate. Crawford feels important resources and energy is being diverted from that lobbying effort to debate/complain about the structure of the upcoming Democratic presidential debate devoted to LGBT issues.

This just goes to show that we are not nearly as politically sophisticated as we would like to believe ourselves to be and that our activism is steeped in personal self-expression rather than a focus on political effectiveness. We have the best chance ever of getting a major piece of LGBT legislation through both chambers of Congress and instead of fighting tooth and nail to make it, some of are engaged in another round on intramural bloodletting under the guise of holding organizations "accountable."

This forum is a sign of our growing political strength and, yes, some credit should go to HRC for the work that it has done over the years in a hostile political environment to build that political strength. Rather than simply attacking our national organizations, we should be focused on how we can help to make them better, faster, stronger and more effective. The homo-haters at Focus on the Family alone have a budget that is larger than HRC, NGLTF, SLDN, GLAAD, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition and GLSEN combined. And that's just one of the organizations that the religious right has built over the years to obliterate us.

Of course, every political organization or interest group has disagreement and infighting, but that hurts a minority group like GLBT activists harder because their resources, although stronger than they used to be, pale in comparision to some of their more aggressive opponents, as Crawford points out.

While I was disappointed at the makeup of the panel, I think it is important to see the upcoming LOGO debate as a starting point and not the end destination. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a trend, not a unique, one-time event. I feel it would be more benefitial for GLBT activists to focus on finding a way to be supportive of this event, then seeking improvements for the next one.

Energy and resources need to be spent on reaching equality for GLBT people, not in pushing individual agendas.

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