Andrew Sullivan: The HRC and Democrats Won’t Win Us Equality

Bearded, bloggy, Brit bear Andrew Sullivan wants you to stop waiting for the Human Rights Campaign and Democrats to make LGBT equality happen. Obama has definitely earned some princess points in this regard, but Sullybear says queers can help tilt American culture towards equality more quickly by coming out and telling their stories via social media.

Which got us to thinking, what about people who would endanger their well-being by coming out? What about those who don’t have access to social media? And WHAT ABOUT JUJUBEE?!!

Those who can safely come out and those who have access to social media have an obligation to help give a voice to the countless queers who can not and do not. Even though cell phones have put cameras and social media in the hands of millions, not every poor Latino kid living in the country with anti-gay parents can just upload a digital video to YouTube. That kid may not have a phone, a computer, or any way to hear about the It Gets Better campaign. Hopefully she’ll discover the wonderful world of queer computing one day, but until then we owe it to her and ourselves to help make her coming out easier by working to understand her world; not just asking her to understand ours.

Giving a voice to voiceless queers is part of the reason we regularly include trans coverage on this blog because so many other mainstream LGBT media outlets do not. We feel the same way about content involving lesbians, bisexuals, people of color, the poor, the HIV+, and the elderly; we’re lagging behind in those areas but we owe it to ourselves to seek out and tell their stories so we can know more and keep changing queer culture.

We define gay culture, it does not define us.

Last night Queerty went to a gay march in Austin, Texas and noticed mostly white faces in the crowd. Any given day most of the faces on Queerty’s front page is filled with mostly white faces too. We couldn’t help but wonder how we can help change the public face of queers from that of an affluent, caucasian, musclebound speedo-jockey gyrating in a shower of Absolut vodka to the multi-cultural, body-positive, genderfuck that more accurately representing our actual numbers.

We cannot wait for Logo, The Advocate, the HRC, or the Democratic party to notice these excluded groups, represent them in speech or action, and create visual media for them. We have to do it ourselves or no one else will and our invisibility will continue to the detriment of our community.

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  • WillBFair

    The guy is a maroon and always has been.
    Right. Everyone come out, regardless of the bullies waiting to beat you down, the parents ready to throw you out, or the boss ready to fire you.
    And democrats are a waste of time, regardless that they have actually gotten results on our behalf, or that the republicans would make our lives a living hell if they got the chance. Politics is one piece of the puzzle, with social media, activism, personal witness, Hollywood, etc…
    Here Sullivan is only taking an opportunity to trash the democratic party, as all gay conservatives habitually do.
    Big Think must expect that their name will disguise the fact that they feature only dingbats.

  • christopher di spirito

    I remember this Andrew Sullivan clown.

    A few years ago, he wrote a piece for the Advocate where he said an HIV/AIDS diagnosis is no more serious than diabetes.

    My partner is an RN in a large Internal Medicine department at local hospital and he was livid. Livid because Sullivan isn’t a healthcare professional and livid because his statement was not medically accurate.

    Of course, Andrew Sullivan is also a fan of bareback sex so I guess he’ll say anything to secure a cock in his ass.

  • Cam

    @WillBFair: said….

    Right. Everyone come out, regardless of the bullies waiting to beat you down, the parents ready to throw you out, or the boss ready to fire you.

    You should read the article, he actually said “Those who can SAFELY come out should.

    Sullivan is a has-been, but his point is somewhat valid. The DEMS were doing nothing for us until we put a lot of pressure on them.

    However, if I have to choose between a group of people that will do nothing for us unless we force them to, or a group that wants us all thrown in jail for being gay, I’ll take the wimps that we can pressure over the bigoted GOP.

  • TheRealAdam

    @Cam: Why do you say that he’s a has-been?

  • ewe

    I do think it is valid what he said about although being a minority we are entrenched in the majority. That is a unique and very powerful status.

  • ewe

    Being entrenched in the majority is the reason we are shamans and can change the world.

  • WillBFair

    @David Ehrenstein: I only have a third of a brain, which is probably why I think gay power comes from both the streets and the suites.

  • Kieran

    It’s always refreshing when gay people like Andrew Sullivan show that they aren’t afraid and/or don’t particularly care if they deviate from the standard liberal democratic line. As far as I’m concerned gay people should be free, independent agents, willing at any time to reward our friends and punish our enemies based upon their individual political actions regardless of political affiliation.

  • jeff4justice

    Good stuff. However, I don’t agree to limiting strategy for obtaining equality.

    Next, with all the talk about marriage equality, DADT, and other political issues, we need to remember that we need to also better LGBT community. In other words, if Prop. 8 were overturned and if Obama gave is all the equal rights in the world tomorrow, it won’t magically make things completely better for LGBT people everywhere. My hometown, the Yuba-Sutter area, is just 45mins north of “liberal” Sacramento and 45 minutes south of “liberal” Chico with a population of 200,000+ people and yet Prop. 8 passed by around 70-80% in those counties – no improvement from when Prop. 22 passed.

    After leaving the area, the group ended after no one else would take it over. There is now no LGBT visibility there once again. The LGBT people in that area remain predominantly fearful and apathetic. Our elected representatives there consistently vote against our equality.

    I started the first viable LGBT group in Yuba-Sutter in 2003 and led it through the end of 2007. In 2008, I was then employed as a NO on 8 volunteer recruiter and trainer. Between volunteering for EQCA in 2004-2005 and working for No on 8, I’ve seen plenty of LGBT or LGBTI infighting among the big groups. When we limit how people want to express themselves or limit what paths to equality are taken (as was attempted with Boise/Olson and Prop. 8 and a similar Wyoming effort), it only ends up provoking resentment and breakaway groups.

    On my YouTube page (link by clicking on my name jeff4justice), I vlog in depth on these topics with my It Gets Better For Adults and I Have No Gay/LGBT Pride commentary series.

    Regarding Obama/Democrats, LGBT people continue to vote out of fear of Republicans. In 2008, we largely ignored Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel who were 100% supportive of equality while Clinton and Obama conditioned us to accept half-assed equality. In 2004, we ignored Al Sharpton who was while John Kerry and John Edwards conditioned us to accept half-assed equality. In 2000, we ignored Ralph Nader while Gore conditioned us to accept half-assed equality.

    Meanwhile we accept media conditioning of poll reports and speculative front-runner status. Meanwhile we accept the conditioning that third/alternative parties or independent candidates will never win even though we were told we’d never have marriage equality or a black President.

    As LGBTI people, we got it hard. Not only do we have to work to attain equality (hopefully by insisting on equality despite how anti-gays feel about us while also working to change minds to make it easier), we also have to overcome the damage we do to ourselves by: endangering our health with the glorification of BB sex; the over-duplication of LGBT groups with the same objectives; LGBTI on LGBTI discrimination and segregation; big LGBT groups and big city LGBT centers leaving behind small suburb town and rural LGBTI folk; the dumbing down of LGBTI people (applicable to heteros too) and the fostering of LGBT victimization (and indeed we are, but we need to be empowered, not just be victims), fear, and apathy; and LGBT elitism resulting in a lack of mentorship of well-to-do LGBT folk and poor LGBT folk.

    With all sincere curiosity, I’d love to hear form a major LGBT group and find out:
    -why are there so many LGBT groups duplicating the same mission
    -why do so many of the major LGBT groups make large 6 figure salaries and how much to their low-level staff (office, security) and PT help make? How much do they give back to LGBT people during times of crisis (health issues/mortgage payments after a layoff)
    -why should a poor/middle income earner donate to a large LGBT group?
    -why are there so many rural and suburb areas left behind by the major LGBT groups by the big LGBT groups and big city LGBT centers?

    Thanks for reading.

  • David Ehrenstein

    @ewe: It’s a very misleading statement. We are not the majority but to describe us as a “minority” is misleading as we cut across all racial, ethnic class and social lines. We are everywhere. And because we refuse to recognize that fact and work it to our advantage, we are nowhere.

  • IAbuseGays

    I stopped at Andrew Sullivan.

  • jason

    Black men rarely come out because black culture is exceedingly homophobic and violent. Black women are particularly to blame. Black women are basically insanely jealous of male-male sexuality.

  • Essus

    @jason: That’s a rather broad brush you are using jason. I would suspect (granted I cannot speak of and to the American experience being Canadian) that the women’s portion of the culture you referred to is not “insanely jealous” but more hostile disbelief rooted in homophobia perhaps even denial – not something like jealousy.

  • ewe

    @David Ehrenstein: I don’t disagree with what you said. I think Andrew Sullivan is also saying he pretty much feels the same way on the subject.

  • Tony

    I would agree the HRC is mostly useless. But that’s about it.

  • Lvng1tor

    Listen if it wasn’t for those of us who came out and organized pride parades in the midwest and rural areas for the tens of people not the 10’s of thousands there wouldn’t be gay marriage as a debate.

    Hell I was hoping one day to hold a mans hand in public not even imagining equality! And yes we were getting our asses beat hard but we kept standing up. And don’t think you can shout me out cause I got hospital records to show it!

    Politicians and voters respond to us in numbers, they respond to us when they see the rainbow of people and cultures we represent. There will be violence but there will be more if we stay silent.

    I love our straight allies and our lobbyist for doing what they can but nothing beats shear numbers and people relating to us as we are on a daily basis. So get your butts out of the closet and stand up now. I did it in the early 80’s in the christian reformed burbs of Michigan and so many did it before me in extreme hard times . Quit your bitching and stand Up!

  • Kev C

    Politicians are failed human beings who exist by taking credit for other people’s work. Hey, can we bogart your It’s Gets Better campaign? The only way to get something done is to avoid politics and just do it. Don’t go to them, make them come to you.

  • Adman

    Wow, there are so many “free thinking” gays these days on Queerty dropping so much wisdom, it’s really just so special. It’s such a relief when someone who drops the republican line and finally embraces their inner “true” conservative. This allows these fellow saints to drag out the same divisive neocon culture war arguments against the “liberal/Democrats” that are based on identical assumptions heard in the TeaBagger arguments, but somehow POOF! We’re post-partisan! This amazing mental freedom allows one to pull a pink unicorn out of one’s ass and declare it independence day!
    What culture war? That’s so yesterday, I washed my hands of that this morning, when I hacked your gay activist blogs and sent the member lists to FOF. What’s that you say? Those people at Citizens for a Sound Economy ARE listening to me, that’s more than I can say for you “liberal/democrats”, they’re going to take heed, because I am, after all, special. Plus, this morning my pastor gave me a whole handful of Jujubees, just for being me. You’re guys are sooooo jealous.

  • mr dave

    this idiot supported Bush the second? what a fucking moron. who cares what he says

  • DaveinSF

    Andrew Sullivan is this entertaining pendulum that swings from being one of the most brilliant critical thinkers in the online LGBT blogosphere to being a sad cartoon of Sarah Palin in ManDrag.

    It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion when he swings nonsensically between the two. His sad and very naive believe that somehow the right wing of the political spectrum will EVER be supportive of Gay rights is one of those train wreck moments.

    Yet his lecture two years ago at Princeton on the “Politics of Homosexuality” is one of the most clear, concise and brilliant explanations of why we have both made the progress we have, and why we have not made significantly more than that.

    I just wish he would make up his mind which is the real Andrew Sullivan.

  • Duncan Osborne

    Andrew doesn’t know his history and as much as he disparages the gay left, he is, in fact, making their argument.

    The Gay Liberation Front, the first of those radicals that Sullivan loves to trash, did not argue for political change. They argued for social change, or liberation as they called it, that would lead to political change. Sullivan is making this argument 40 years later.

    GLF first published “Come Out,” a magazine, in 1969. As the title suggests, they urged the community to reveal themselves and when GLF produced the first pride march in New York City in 1970, that is exactly what they did — on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. When Harvey Milk was first elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, he told his supporters on election night to “Keep coming out.” Sullivan’s call to come out is a very old one.

    Andrew is doing the same thing on marriage. In 1972, some 100 transgender, lesbian, bisexual, and gay people gathered in Chicago for the first (and only I believe) meeting of the National Coalition of Gay Organizations. They represented 85 groups from 18 states. Among their demands was the right to marry though they opposed restrictions on the number of people who could enter into one marriage. The first court case brought by a gay couple seeking to marry came in 1971, when Andrew was eight years old, in Minnesota and long before Sullivan first discussed gay marriage.

    Mattachine, the Daughters of Bilitis, GLF, the Gay Activist Alliance, Milk, and slew of other individuals and groups made Andrew Sullivan possible. They took huge risks to create the safer society that he can be openly gay in. He shows his appreciation by attacking them, co-opting their strategies, and pretending that he is the originator of the goals they first championed.

  • IAbuseGays

    @Duncan Osborne: Co optation is a part of the establishment game on every issue. Gay rights is only one example. If you look at race, economic issues, environmental issues, etc., you see the same thing happen.

    Historically when an idea that’s generated by radical approaches is moving from being considered radical to the mainstream, the main stream attempts to eliminate any part of the radical approach that may throw the main stream approach into question by co opting the idea without the radical changes to society that spawned it. .

    Political parties especially have always done this with movements. FDR co opted the economic policies of the left to calm their threat.

    Part of co optation is to throw history down the memory hole and to forget it.

  • delurker

    Does everyone remember when Sully’s cruising profile came out on a site called or something like that? He ended his profile with the oh so classy line, “No femmes or fatties.” Good times.

  • Spike

    So a clown that supported GW Bush is telling us that the HRC is useless. Oh really. I’d say he and his opinion is pretty much useless, and I’d prefer there be a well funded GLBT Lobby in Washington (even if they don’t pursue every last GLBT issue) then no GLBT Lobby.

  • Cam


    Because previously he was something a bit different. However since that time the movement has passed him by. He blogs too much and writes too little, so he is now much more of a naval gazer than a voice that leads in any diredction. He will get so far off on obsessive pathways like his rants about circumcision, his attacks on the community for not spending huge amounts of time talking about AIDS during the last March on Washingting “Which was about a completely different issue” in short, if it doesn’t effect Sullivan directly he is usually somewhat offbase, and if it does effect him directly he can’t distance himself from the issue enough to be rational.

  • Cock2CockMan

    This idiot is one stupid man-fucker (as opposed to ‘motherfucker’)! He’s one the most self-hating, apologist, assholes I’ve ever seen. Also that fucking beard of his is a piece of work!! WTF?!?! Does he think it makes him look more ‘butch’?

    Why can’t this misrible fuck go away?

  • Art Smith

    Ugh professional media whore gays like Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage are annoying and do not do anything to help GLBT equality.

    Cock2-Sullivan has a beard since it hides his sunken in cheeks which are a side effect of HIV medications. He was a bug chaser and dangerously claimed that having HIV was “fabulous” and I remember when he claimed he became HIV+ from giving oral sex but then it was discovered he was barebacking as a bottom the entire time because his personal ad asking for only bareback sex was found.

  • randy

    The bottomline that everyone seems to ignore here is that Sullivan is right — the HRC isn’t interested in getting our rights for us. Neither is GLAAD (see the AT&T debacle) or any of the other professional Gay Inc. non profits. HRC hasn’t won us any thing on the national level except the Hate Crimes Act. On the state level, they are virtually nonexistent. Remember, HRC was against promoting marriage equality until the train finally left the station and they figured they had at least be in the caboose. DADT was repealed not because of HRC, but in spite of them.

    As for the Democrats, there are many who champion our rights. But there are many who really don’t care or are not going to push for them, like Obama.

    So if we are going to have a real program that gets us our rights and lock them down from any future challenges, we simply have to engage the few Republicans who do support us. I know that there aren’t that many, but when the field is as small as it is, we need every ally we can get, left or right. Moral purity isn’t the issue here — getting our rights locked down is.

  • Tommy

    @christopher di spirito: Sad, I wondered before I opened this how long it would take some judgemental queen to bring up Sully’s HIV status. Second post. Amazing. I believe what Sully offered was a highly qualified essay titled “when plagues end”, not a broad statement comparing HIV to diabetes, but if you can find something where he dismisses the consequences of infection, I’d be happy to follow the link.

    For all his glib moments…and they are legion…Sullivan has proven himself to be a man of integrity and compassion. What we miss in his infamous bareback ad was that, unlike most poz gay men who remain silent because of the shit we get, he disclosed his status. He put the health of his partners above his desire for cock, and he was rewarded by having his privacy violated. His essay, which you’ve jumped upon because your partner is an RN or something, compares life in the trenches of the “aids crisis” to the grandeur of a world where it was not an immediate or even inevitable death sentence. It speaks from the perspective of someone who could’ve ignored the crisis but chose to help, not a judgemental RN who was compensated for her trouble.

    So keep bitching, you pathetic queens. Sullivan is right. The HRC is a joke, more interested in selling rainbow colored lawn furniture than fighting for equality. Pretend that failure to come out in 2011 is demonstrative of something other than a hilarious lack of a spine, because your pathetic lives have never witnessed stress and pain greater than someone calling you a “faggot”, then make fun of his lipoatrophy.

    I’d take one more Sullivan in the world over every pathetic two bit wannabe internet “activist” on queerty bitching about how they’re bullied. Grow the fuck up girls.

  • IAbuseGays

    @Tommy: His HIV status is not the point. His judgment is the point. He has a history of really bad judgement on multiple fronts. Many of which are recent. Some of which, like his endorsement of The Bell Curve, he continues to maintain was the right decision. Its like saying it doesn’t matter whether someone has consistently made bad choices in the past. We should just pretend tableau rasa none of that matters. Why exactly shouldn’t it matter that not only was he a bug chaser, but also defended an illegal war or any number of other things he has said?

  • christopher di spirito

    @Tommy: Are you really this stupid or is an act? Your pal Andrew Sullivan has no business penning a piece for the Advocate stating HIV/AIDS is no more serious than diabetes. If you are HIV-positive and not on anti-retro viral therapy, you will contract an OI and likely die. That limey slug has no business preaching such bullshit. This is almost as nutty and irresponsible as the late, AIDS-denialist Christine Maggiore telling her flock that HIV treatment causes AIDS and not the HIV virus. She was so correct she died.

  • Greg From Denver

    Hey Queerty, I liked your commentary under the Sullivan video. I’m glad you’re trying to help some under represented parts of the GLBT community be seen.

    I’ve been aware of Andrew Sullivan for years and disagreed with many of his statements and arguments while agreeing with others. I’ve been around the community long enough that I see many of the valid points he is making, that what was genuinely radical 20 years ago has become an accepted expectation today. I also very much want to echo jeff4justice in that I think our movement progresses best when we use a variety of strategies to reach our goals.

    I didn’t hear Sullivan’s statement as calling for the break up of either the HRC or the Democratic Party so much as reminding us how our individual and personal efforts to come out can effect change in the hearts and minds of society, which would come before changing the votes of politicians.

    I don’t see how a person’s HIV status or their personal choices on sex should invalidate their right to express a political opinion.

  • Tommy

    @christopher di spirito: I’ve asked you to link to the peice where Sullivan “compares HIV to diabetes”. You instead jumped into calling him a “limey slug”, and compared him to HIV denialists. FAIL. Please try again, this time show us where Sullivan compared HIV to “diabetes”. If the article exists, I seriously doubt the comparison is as simple as you imply. Frankly, I don’t think that the article exists, or you would’ve simply linked to it rather than make allusions to “the advocate”. At this point your behavior borders on libel.

    @ Iabusegays: I agree, his endorsement of “The Bell Curve” is grotesque. I’m curious where you get the idea that he was a “bug chaser” though. I’d also like to point out that dismissing his claim simply because of his character is fallacious reasoning.

  • IAbuseGays

    @Tommy: I will answer the question I care about. No, it is not fallacious to not waste one’s time trying to accept the arguments of someone I can not trust, especially because they do have faulty judgment. Its like you are saying that you would listen to a doctor who has committed multiple acts of malpractice. You are right in that, yes, reason should look at each circumstance individually like flipping a coin for heads or tails since logic dictates that each instance of flipping the coin has its own probability. However, that’s a weak argument under the circumstances precisely because like the doctor who commits malpractice the core issue is can I trust the instinct of the speaker? The answer- as others have pointed out here- is no. Not because his arguments may or may not have merit. In fact, the argument is something that’s been said since gay conservatives like Sullivan were still cowering in dark alleys while gay men that he wants to dare lecture were actually fighting for the ideas of being out and its value to us. The difference is that I do not trust him. No more than I trust Ken Melhman or McGreevey or any of the others who have proven untrust worthy. In short, I am dismising him. I have no interest in what arguments he’s making because ultimately if the argument is right- its likely- as it is here- being made by others that I do trust.

  • TheRealAdam

    @Cam: OK, thanks. I didn’t get your comment before, but it makes more sense now that you’ve explained.

  • Tommy

    @IAbuseGays: Well, you evidently care a lot about Sully’s “bug chasing”, since you’re the one who had to mention it, so why don’t you answer that as well? Or is it simply more fun to bash someone who got the virus as a “bug chaser” than it is to address what they say? I suspect the latter.

    As for your concern about his character affecting the validity of his statement, even you recognize that its ludicrous. HRC is…and has always been…a worthless, cowardly organization which has failed to generate EVEN ONE meaningful advance for gay rights. Name ANYTHING they’ve done, except pass out visually striking bumper stickers to hip youth in The Village ™. Whatever though girls, keep donating. They want your money, and frankly if you fools believe in them, I think you should be parted from it. I hear they’re redecorating, or inviting Lady Gaga to to dance at the ____ party, or holding a gala filled with people who’ve never known suffering who complain about being bullied or some equally worthless bullshit. Perfectly fitting that you should fund that lunacy. See? It got better ™.

  • Kev C

    @Tommy: NGOs of any sort are self-serving job pools. Some do work to improve lives, but mostly they work to raise money. HRC’s mission is educational outreach, which translates as fundraising dance parties. They manage to get money from straight people too, and making money is a goal in itself. I have money = I am somebody.

  • IAbuseGays

    @Tommy: I mention it in a list of others things. You care more than I do. there is enough evidence of his judgment been at is, hence your agreeing with one of my other listed items. I am answering our curtesy. If you want to continue to talk about what is only one point in a list. You will be doing it alone.

    I didn’t say his character. i said his judgement. Do you understand the difference? It doesn’t seem like you do. I used the doctor malpractice example for a reason. The doctor can be a very sweet guy who nevertheless kills many patients because he’s incompetent. As it seems are you. I imagine you think my pointing out your inability to underestand an argument is also me “attacking your character.” Such is the state of online debates. You get to pretend not to get the point long after its been made clear to you. Good luck.

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