July 09, 2009

Seduced By the Bright Lights in Washington

Wayne Besen is concerned that GLBT activists, including himself, have been seduced by the access to power and the lure of the bright lights of national politics in Washington, DC. Besen believes that leadership needs to refocus on more grass roots level issues. Here's an excerpt from his column:

Getting thrust into the national storyline means hundreds of news stories that feature your name and the bright lights of television. Of course, such massive media hits are important and serve a larger purpose. But, the downside is our movement can become intoxicated with Washington at the expense of broader issues.

Let me be clear, it is crucial that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement have a strong voice in Washington. It is vital that we support our national lobby groups. Solutions at the federal level are often preferable because they apply to conservative states where it may take decades to achieve equality.

Political discourse has become an aphrodisiac that has seduced our community away from equally important issues. Perhaps it is time we go into rehab and free ourselves from the Washington crack pipe. It is a cheap high that rarely lasts and often leaves us broke and unsatisfied.

We all wanted King Obama to sweep into office, wave his magic wand and make discrimination disappear. I really wish he would, but it is clear that he won’t - or at least not as quick as we desire. So, why don’t we pry ourselves away from DC for a moment and try using our resources in alternative ways?

Anyone remember AIDS?

Ever hear of the multi-million dollar ex-gay industry that pumps out reams of propaganda to portray gay people as sick and “sexually broken?” Few people seem to notice, even though these groups spread harmful myths and poisonous stereotypes that impact our daily lives.

What about increasing funds to help GLBT youths who are thrown out of their homes? Or, scholarships, so these teens can succeed in life and maybe one day run for Congress?

How about focusing on the abuses against GLBT people overseas?

The aforementioned issues will not get you on a Congressman’s speed dial. It is unlikely that you will win a sparkling trophy or have a marble bust made of your head. The cable shows may not be dialing you at a frenzied pace. But, you might have a disproportionately positive impact and even save a few lives.

Hard words and some deep thinking from soneome who looked in a mirror and wasn't happy with what he saw. We should all do that every now and then.

Click here to read the rest of Wayne Besen's column.

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