Here’s What Lt. Dan Choi + Robin McGehee Did Completely Right. And What Went Horribly Wrong

With Lt. Dan Choi still in jail, reportedly without a phone call, and five activists arrested at the San Francisco office of Nancy Pelosi, the coin is still spinning in the air as to whether today’s bi-coastal demonstrations were a success. Let’s break everything down, shall we?

Choi and Cap. Jim Pietrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence and were arrested; Get Equal’s Robin McGehee was taken in custody (and has since been released with a $35 fine) beforehand; and Get Equal’s members in San Francisco and D.C., who stormed Pelosi’s office, face their own criminal actions. Is this what organizers expected to happen? Well they certainly anticipated it: Part of their ultimatum was their promise not to leave until their demands were met or they were arrested. In all three situations, the latter scenario won out.

But today’s events were remarkable. Not just because of the publicity storm, but because America’s LGBT community was finally given tangible evidence that there is more to activism than donating to the Human Rights Campaign.

So what went well today? And what went terribly wrong?

Kathy Griffin’s star power was exploited, then dumped. The real reason the Human Rights Campaign got anyone to care about its little rally in D.C. — in front of City Hall, no less, and not the White House or the Capitol Building — was because Kathy Griffin was a part of it. The gays love her, and so does the media. But it wasn’t a one-way transaction. Kathy was there to film the “issues episode” of her upcoming season of My Life on the D-List. Her cameras were rolling, and HRC was on board with giving Bravo full control over the event. Which meant that when Dan Choi took the stage after Kathy, he had the audience’s attention, and perhaps Bravo’s camera guys. But to reserve the element of surprise, he didn’t coordinate his White House handcuffing with her or Solmonese prior to joining Griffin on stage. Which means that when he left the HRC rally, Kathy was ostensibly confused as to whether this was part of the official plan. She opted to stay behind, with HRC’s Joe Solmonese, to take pictures and get more B-roll. Instead, she missed the real action at the White House, and so did her cameras. Alas, that might mean no footage of Choi’s efforts on Bravo.

The media wasn’t notified ahead of time. Much of the Twitter gabbing during Choi’s arrest centered on the lack of coverage from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News as the rally as happening in real time. Why weren’t any of them reporting on Choi’s protest? Because they weren’t notified about it ahead of time. Cable news operates this way: If there is no video, there is no story. Sure, Wolf Blitzer can insert a “this just in” as he relays what he hears in his IFB, but unless they’ve got tape or a live feed, producers will not put it on the air. That’s how it works. And without advanced notice, they had zero time to coordinate the ordeal of getting a satellite truck in position, and a cameraman and reporter on the scene. Unfortunately, for events that are supposed to generate attention, not notifying the media represents a major oversight.

But they had a great two-pronged approach. First came the shock: Choi marching to the White House fence. Then the awe: Within hours everybody was notified that Get Equal was taking to Pelosi’s offices in SF and DC. If journalists were just getting wind of the first melee, they now had a secondary story to jump on.

They hijacked HRC’s rally. Normally we wouldn’t commend a group for taking over another organization’s event. That’s just rude, and it’s like, plan your own shindig, jerks. But HRC wastes millions of its donors’ dollars every year, so if anyone is going to make a HRC rally effective, it’ll be a third party. One with balls. Like Get Equal. From this HRC statement, it appears Choi wasn’t even supposed to speak at all, and instead, through a relationship with Solmonese, secured a chance to take the mic at the last minute: “There’s been some confusion about Lt. Dan Choi’s role in the rally. As Joe Solmonese was walking to the stage, Lt. Choi asked Joe if he could have a speaking role. Joe explained that it wasn’t his sole decision to make on the spot given that there was already an established program that included Kathy Griffin, other organization and veterans. After Choi then spoke with Kathy Griffin, she agreed to bring him up on stage and speak to the crowd during her remarks. Lt. Choi in his speech called on the crowd to march on the White House. Joe Solmonese along with Eric Alva and others felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal. This does nothing to diminish the actions taken by Lt. Choi and others. This is the nature of social change and everyone has a role to play.” (Robin McGehee reportedly asked Joe Solmonese if she could take part in the rally, but was rebuffed; it was Kathy and Bravo’s rally, she was supposedly told.) But what was supposed to be a camera op for HRC and Bravo became the mere launching pad for Choi’s stunt. Nobody will remember the HRC rally for anything other than Choi taking it over. They got Kanye’d.

And made HRC look weak. Not that the org needs any help with that. “Today more than 1000 people showed up at a rally – 500 of which signed up to become more involved in the fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” reads a separate statement from HRC. “Joe Solmonese along with Eric Alva and others felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal. This does nothing to diminish the actions taken by Lt. Choi and others. This is the nature of social change and everyone has a role to play.” Sad, sad Solmonese. Nobody, except maybe his octogenarian donors, is even pretending this organization commands respect any more. Invited by Choi to join him in marching to the White House, Solmonese and Griffin, relays Americablog, “looked over at Dan when he asked them, for the second time, to come with him to the White House (mind you, they had no idea that he was planning to handcuff himself), and they just stared back at him. They were not helping engage the rally about how to build pressure – the rally was over, they were already off the stage, behind it actually, getting ready to leave behind a secure rope line to separate them from the crowd.” These are the memories that will be burned into the minds of attendees and anyone reading the coverage: Solmonese and Griffin stayed behind to do jackshit, and once again let other, more mobile and courageous heroes do the necessary dirty work.

They didn’t have a post-demonstration plan. It sounds like Get Equal and Choi expected he would be quickly released from custody, but that isn’t happening. Denied bail and a phone call, Choi has been muted — a problematic situation in the immediate aftermath of today’s events in this 24-hour news cycle. That leaves the demonstrations’ most public face offline, and instead Kathy Griffin is the one doing the talking. And controlling the debate. Here she is on tonight’s Joy Behar, making the jokes:

[flv: 650 400]

(No, we don’t know why there’s an “eatme” bug on the video.)

Instead, it should’ve been Dan Choi — on Rachel Maddow. To her credit, Maddow did hit today’s events, including the DADT hearings in the Senate, where former NATO Commander Gen. John Sheehan argued Dutch troops failed to stop genocide in the 1995 Bosnian war because of its fag soldiers.

They’ve ignited momentum. It’s one thing to tweet about the need for calling your lawmakers to push them on DADT and ENDA. It’s another thing entirely to give those keyboard types something tangible to rally around. Choi, McGehee, and Get Equal today did just that — something fifteen black tie galas put on by the Human Rights Campaign could never accomplish. Today’s activists stirred up intrigue and desire. But so too did the National Equality March, which both McGehee and her Get Equal partner Kip Williams were involved with. The momentum from the march has, arguably, already fizzled; its umbrella group Equality Across America exists in name only. But now that it’s burst on to the scene just days after its official unveiling, Get Equal has much work to do to keep the wheels turning. In the short-term, it’s working: There were rallies in Los Angeles and San Diego on Thursday; New York City will host one in Times Square at noon in front of the Army recruiting center on Friday. And one thing is clear: Not only does HRC not want to help them, they don’t want HRC’s help.

[photo via]

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #danchoi #don'taskdon'ttell(dadt) #enda(employmentnon-discriminationact) stories and more


  • Tom

    Awful timing. I’ve been saying it all day. Who payed attention, outside of those already interested, to what happened today? Do you think they could have waited until after the historic health reform vote? Next Tuesday for example? There should have been a spokesman. Let Choi and the other fellow get arrested, but don’t count on getting out soon. Capitol Police recently had to deal with two of their officers being in a shooting incident.

    & since when was joining the military such a desirable thing?

  • Brian NYC

    Today’s publicity stunts are a big FAILURE.

    The LGBT Movement doesn’t need grandstanding and childish stunts. These childish displays were an effort to get ATTENTION. We HAVE attention, we need results. The only thing to come from these actions is embarrassment.

    Our community looks silly. We tried to make Pelosi look silly. She responded with a big F-You by saying “we don’t have the votes.” She was inviting a very important consideration:

    Do these publicity stunts get more votes?

    They do not. They are NOT helpful. They did not change anyone’s mind or VOTE. They actually hurt us.

    Kathy Griffin made a joke of us, but not as good as GetEqual did. Today’s ill-conceived events will close many doors that were at least partially open. We need people to JOIN our effort, not LAUGH at us.

    It’s easy to be irritating, it’s a lot tougher to be smart. To try to figure out what actually helps us, what helps us achieve our goal of full equality. GetEqual just set us back in time by using tired, old tactics of a bygone era. The World has changed, we should, too.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Brian NYC: Honey, you aren’t smart. You are a coward.

  • Chance

    And here to prove Brian’s point that it’s a lot easier to irritate than it is to think critically or speak intelligently… it’s #3, let’s give him a hand…

    Don’t you have a fence to chain yourself to? Or did you manage to sneak your iphone into prison this evening? I bet your grindr is just awesome tonight.

  • Tom


    Not that there’s anything wrong with Grindr, small businesses being the backbone of America and all….

  • sam

    Black civil rights leaders and their white allies protested and were arrested for it in the 60s. And then there were more polished speakers like MLK, who also was arrested for his ideas. And then there were legislators that pushed for equal treatment for black people.

    All those things help. Activism has a root of anger in it, and sometimes that activism will cause you to get arrested. It gets people’s attention and is not immature. If everyone that is for a cause is too scared to get arrested – not some felony mind in – then will that cause ever win? It certainly got my attention, and I already respected Choi, but now I have even more respect for him. If that is even possible. What a great human being.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: Honey, you can dress your cowardice up as you like. It doesn’t fool anyone but the rest of the cowards looking to rationalize their vice as virtue.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @sam: This is true. Indeed, part of the way that change occurs is the fear of greater radicalism if things aren’t changed. FDR, for example, passed the New Deal out of fear of the rising voices of the socialist/communist and radicalized voices. People don’t realize this but the New Deal was an attempt to hold the radical tensions in check. Without the radical tensions, the center moves more toward status quo, whatever that status quo is. The only radicalized voices in the U.S. right now are from the far right. Thus, their ability to influence the tilt of overall policy toward regressive policies. This is basic political theory, but most people think their opinion or how it makes them feel matters more (which is a product of 30 to 40 years of centrist/conservative doctrines telling them to be docile, buy a coke cola and don’t worry, be happy about their daily lives). The center only exists if there is a real pull between the radicalized extremes. That’s the value of street activists. Not that they will make change happen a lone. But that they are part of a greater picture. Without them, that greater picture is distorted or skewed from a certain point of view. Anyway, enough political theory.

  • Josh AZ

    Hey, let’s get together and stop traffic tomorrow morning.

    Let’s let all those stupid straight people know “we’re mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore.” If we can make people late to work everyday, they’ll give us our equality.

    If you want something real bad all you have to do is COMPLAIN.

    People who complain get everything they want. It’s that simple.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Josh AZ: Well if Az= Arizona, that fountain of gay equality, your strategy of doing nothing but waiting must be highly affective in your state.

  • Josh AZ

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: WTF? A half dozen idiots caused a disturbance and you think they have courage. They have a desire to get publicity.

    Kip and Robin made as much money as they could of the failed National Equality March and now they’re trying to collect cash with these idiotic displays.

    If you think this parade of stupidity accomplished anything, please share. Tell us what this accomplished. Because if you have evidence we’ll ALL participate. Just give us some evidence that it helps and we’ll play.

    Evidence. Please.

  • Chance

    The most cowardly thing in the world is blaming mistakes upon the umpires. Too many managers strut around on the field trying to manage the umpires instead of their teams.” [Bill Klem]

    It’s only natural that we’re blaming the umpires now. We’ve blamed everyone else for our own failure to come up with a winning game plan. Trouble is, an umpire has to call a strike a strike and an out an out. ENDA doesn’t have a chance to pass this Senate? Sorry, GetEQUAL, you’reeeee out. And there’s nothing Umpire Nancy can do about it. That’s just the way the game is played.

    Is this when Cleve comes back and blames all the people in the crowd who have gone to the bar, disillusioned because their team can’t get its shit together?

    So come on, coach? How do we win this thing?

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Josh AZ: You think you are more important than you are. I am not going to debate you. I am just going to make fun of you.

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: There’s a winning strategy. Why didn’t we all think of that.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: The black civil rights movement may have had leaders, but less famous people also had to have courage too. Take what you want form the analogy.

  • The Other Tom

    Preface: I’m gay.

    Choi lost all my respect with this stunt. He was a shining example that a gay man can be in uniform, serving his nation respectably. Now he’s going to be constantly used as an example by the right wing to demonstrate a gay man out of control – look, see, we can’t let them serve, they’ll dishonor the uniform by chaining themselves to the white house fence and other inappropriate demonstrations.

    It’s not like chaining yourself to the white house fence actually accomplishes anything. He’d have done much better to give a good speech there.

  • Drive_Bi

    Embarrassing and stupid.

    These publicity hounds just make it harder for some of us to come out. People already think we’re defective. We really don’t need people to think we’re petulant kids, too.

    I hope people think about their deeds. I hope they try to serve the greater good of equality and not their own self interests.

  • Tom

    boring thread has become boring.

    Unsubscribing to follow up comments.


  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: SInce you have anointed yourself brilliant, I am sure you did. Those of us who realizes life is something more than what we can think up in our heads, pick up little items called history books to realize how complex social change is, and that anyone looking for a one size fit all like “we should not engage in civil disobedience” is about as useful to change as someone who says “We should never lobby Congress” or do whatever it takes. Each has their part to play. There’s nothing particularly brilliant about what I just wrote about how the center is defined by two radicals unless you have never read history or political science. But, then I am not trying to use intelligence or claiming to be all knowing as an excuse to poo-poo having a wide range of strategies available to the gay civil rights movement. You are.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    Jesus, how many screen names do you have?

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: Thanks, but that was in no way a response to anything I, Brian, Tom, t.o.Tom, or Josh. This is a question of effectiveness, of which today’s current guerilla theatrics have none. You’re imagining, it seems, that any action is courageous, but it’s not. Courage is doing what needs to be done, even when it is difficult. Doing what doesn’t need to be done, even when it’s difficult, is maturbatory, self-aggrandizing, suicidal, or just plain stupid.

    @Tom: That’s nice. Your mother will be by in a few minutes to tuck you in.

  • Sam

    Doh’ are you kidding us? If this was good for our movement can you please explain how? You sound like you’re Kip or Robin.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: @Sam: Lord, I mean- can you be more cowardly? If you can’t win an argument pretend not to get it (despite Chance’s brilliance) or whine that I must be them (because no one could possibly see you as full of crap).

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: It’s not enough to say “it takes lobbying and civil disobedience and unicorns” just because that’s what your books have told you. We should be capable of judging an action on its own merits, not on what ‘history’ tells us its merits are. The question is: are these actions effective, or not? If so, WHY? I don’t think that’s a difficult question for a true believer.

    Enthusiasm is a limited resource – one we have precious little of in this movement. We cannot afford to squander that resource on ineffectiveness.

  • sam

    I don’t understand the criticism for both sides. Those who protest and are willing to get arrested or those who just write letters or call their political representatives are both doing their part. The time to give back is hard considering how much each person has to do just to pay the bills, so if you can get active in away: good.

    i don’t think it was a publicity stunt. I think he genuinely is angry about DADT. and I am proud of him. I wouldn’t do it, but good for him. There is place for all of us to get active.

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: I get it. You didn’t even read what I said about cowardice and courage before. So you probably aren’t reading any of this. That makes more sense, now.

  • AndrewW

    Soon, people will understand that today’s events were not helpful. It is important that we all try to determine how effective any tactic or strategy really is.

    In order to achieve our full equality we are going to need to figure out how to WIN, not just get attention. Attention is easy. Winning takes some real thought and effort.

  • Ted B. (Charging Rhino)

    Lt. Choi just sank his just-restored military career…and it’s no loss to the US military. If he was truely dedicated to being in the service, he’d have kept his head down after being restored to his drill, but he let fame…and perhgaps poor advice…lead him to destroy that same career with this stunt.

    And with the entire MSM’s attention focused on the Obamacare end-run through Congress….the tree fell and didn’t make any noise.

  • Peter

    Isn’t it telling how we have a public relations disaster in this most recent effort, and the only thing that people are doing is attacking each other over the internet? Aren’t we supposed to be united for a just cause? We may disagree on how best to do things, but really…what is this bickering going to accomplish? We are better than this, everyone. What happened to our principles, our community? Let’s work together, not against each other, and be a constructive force for the change we seek. Let’s not allow egos and bitterness consume the energy that is better spent by reaching out. A large part of the reason why we don’t have political clout is precisely because many of us find it easier to criticize than to persuade. This bitterness in the GLBT community must stop if we are to have any hope of capitalizing on the tremendous opportunity that is before us. Have we so quickly forgotten the darkness of eight long years under Bush II’s reign?

  • MarkB SF

    I was a member of the gay liberation movement in 1969. After Stonewall, we went into action. ACTION. Often spontaneous barely planned. Political and direct. The older generation mostly abhorred us and our call for everyone to come out of the closet. However, that gay liberation movement and it’s immediate political progeny got more done in 10 years than all the slick strategizing, worrying about making mistakes or alienating folks and politeness had gotten since Walt Whitman. We said to the conservative, mainstream queer “homophile” movement, thank you for your contributions they were at times courageous, but what you are doing now is not working. We are taking the lead now and AREN’T going to wait. So, 40 years after Stonewall I say we’ve waited too long and it time to GetEqual Now! Go Dan, Kip and Robin!

  • Bussy

    Jesus..wat the fuck are u gays thinking?
    Of course this did not work. It will never be able to work. Y’all just look stupid and disorganized.
    Lt.Choi is a military man thus he shoulda known better and more was expected from him.

  • InExile

    @MarkB SF: I’m with you, we have waited long enough. lobbying, letters, telephone calls, nothing is working and nothing is happening! We have a President full of promises with nothing but contempt for our community in his culture of ME. We have a congress and a senate unwilling to stick their necks out for our community. What we are doing is not working.

  • Tim W

    @InExile: I co-sign also. Wake up people and smell the coffee. This is just one more prong in a multi-prong attack. Believe me it will get great air time and once these two are released they will be on all the news channels explaining why they took this action. We have gotten NO WHERE with the current stragety. It is time to show that people aren’t going to lie down any more. Do you really think the White House cares about advancing GLBT rights. Hell no. I applaud both Choi and Petrangelo and Get Equal.

  • mark Segal

    Best accurate, unbiased and professional analysis we’ve seen on yesterdays actions. Most likely the person who holds the record for most arrests for LGBT ciivil disobedience in the nation, it is a relief to see activism on this level back and I salute Choi & McGehee, but civil disobedience by itself as pointed out by Queerty analysis is not enough without proper planning to gain media attention or follow-up plan. Unfortunately the timing could not be worse. Lastly, and in my humble opinion Queerty’s thoughtful insight is as important since it is a healthy and responsible LGBT media that get the message out to our community and this is a stellar example.

  • Cam

    And here are the HRC trolls bombing the site. Look, last nights coverage on CNN was completely in Choi’s corner, they didn’t have anything on the rally, and only mentioned it and HRC because of Choi, Kathy Griffin isn’t something that the straight news is going to bother to report on. Not only did they cover him sympatheticly, but they had analysists on there saying that they are not attacking their friends, what they are doing, rightfully so, is exactly what the African American community si doing, and that is reminding their friends how they got there. Then they discussed how if the base stays quiet Congress would never address their concerns. So I’m curious, why did HRC hold the rally if not to get coverage? And since Choi got the coverage, and it was very favorable, what is the beef with him? Or is it that HRC doesn’t really care one way or the other about the issue, they just want to be able to take credit and feel in control? RAther than attacking somebody who may not be doing what you want, stop trying to pretend that he is evil. You sound just like the republicans screaming that the Health Care bill is going to cause our country to collpase, we know they are doing it for partisan reasons, whats your excuse?

  • Cam

    No. 27 · Ted B. (Charging Rhino)
    Lt. Choi just sank his just-restored military career…and it’s no loss to the US military. If he was truely dedicated to being in the service, he’d have kept his head down after being restored to his drill, but he let fame…and perhgaps poor advice…lead him to destroy that same career with this stunt.

    And with the entire MSM’s attention focused on the Obamacare end-run through Congress….the tree fell and didn’t make any noise.

    If it made no noise then why all the effort to attack him? Additionally, I don’t recall seeing that he was restored to duty? His case hasn’t been halted.

    Here is what one of the hot political blogs for DC is saying, they’re a straight blog (Wonkette) so apparently don’t get the memo’s from HRC..

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: Whatever dude. You are basically criticizing someone for using a different tactic. I don’t care how you attempt to parse it.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Cam: Thanks for the response. And yes, I agree that there seems to be a lot of odd comments along this thread about how activism of this type of bad. I figured it had to becoming from some where, and you provided me with insight as to who might gain from attacking the activists, especially someone like Choi. I guess they feel with someone with his background they must now demonize him because his biography is so powerful that little else will work.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Cam: Thanks for the link from Wonkette. The comments were all extremely favorable of Choi. It is definitely interesting to see the response of a blog dedicated to politics discussing political activism versus the really odd comments one sees here.

  • Chance

    Guys, it still isn’t enough to say multi-prong, if the prongs aren’t actually accomplishing what we need. It is foolish to blindly flail around in ‘civil disobedience’ without being able to rationalize it by logically following the thread of cause and effect. We have to ask ourselves what we want to accomplish, and we then have to ask if what we’re doing has any potential to actually get us there. Yesterday’s actions don’t seem to have been aimed at any specific goal, and were performed in a vacuum, one in which cause and effect don’t exist. That’s not good enough.

    What you call infighting is, in many cases, simply a call for accountability. It is quite possible that everything we’ve done up until now – lobbying, letters, telephone calls – have not worked. You won’t get any arguments from me, I don’t think any of those things are effective. But everyone here was sure trudging along and blowing their wads time after time on those ineffective letters and calls. They rarely stopped to ask, “Is this even doing anything?”

    So isn’t it just as possible that the thing everyone is latching onto now – so enthusiastically that you don’t think it’s necessary to consider effectiveness and outcomes – is as lacking in merit as all of the rest? Of course it is, and we would be a hell of a lot better off if we figured that out now, before we waste another 5 years on this ‘strategy’ instead of coming up with something that will actually work.

    If you really think that civil disobedience is a good idea, that’s fine, but you should be able to defend it. It should have more inherent value than “nothing else works.”

  • Felix

    @MarkB SF

    Thanks for your post and BIG THANKS for your significant efforts.

  • Chance

    @Cam: Who’s supporting HRC in here? Are you sure you’re reading the right thread?

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: blah, blah, blah. We don’t have to defend anything to you. You have an over sense of importance.

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself. If you actually want equality, don’t settle for whatever faux-strategy is at hand, but strive for something that will actually work. If you validate your actions with nothing more than “just because and we don’t have to explain why,” you’re no better than HRC.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: As I already said, I read these things call history books as well as study this subject called political science.

  • Chance

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: And textbooks prevent you from thinking critically about the material they contain? “Someone told me so” is not adequate, whether the someone is a textbook, an ‘expert,’ or a professor. Are you willing to sacrifice your own discretion so easily?

  • Cam

    No. 41 · Chance
    @Cam: Who’s supporting HRC in here? Are you sure you’re reading the right thread?

    Sorry Chance, I’d read the other thread first then came here!

  • Cam

    No. 39 · Chance

    If you really think that civil disobedience is a good idea, that’s fine, but you should be able to defend it. It should have more inherent value than “nothing else works.”

    My defense of it, is mostly because, the news coverage was sympathetic. that is what Congressmen look to, how they will be perceived, and on CNN, you had the newscasters saying how shocking it was that an honorable man like Choi wasn’t allowed to serve and how terrible it was for him to be arrested when all he is doing is asking to serve. Then you had an African American Commentator on there saying that what Choi was doing was right, that the black community was doing the same thing, he said Choi and Gays were not attacking their friends in Congress and the Administration, but rather that they were reminding their friends how they got there and that they needed to keep their words. Additionally, the political blogs in DC like Wonkette were mocking HRC’s rally and praising Choi. I feel that that kind of Coverage, both inside the beltway, and nationally on the Nationwide News shows, definitly showed that this particular instance of civil disobediance seemes to have gotten results.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Cam: Here’s the thing. You already mentioned that defense earlier. Others have in previous threads and this one mentioned the historical analogs of why this sort of activism matters. Yet, people are still disputing the claims. I applaud your efforts to try to address Chance. But, really, what’s the point?

  • DR

    Look, this is simple, to me anyway.

    The HRC is great at taking our money and doing squat with it. they were all happy-happy to turn around and give all the support to Kathy Griffin TO TAPE A GAY EPISODE FOR HER REALITY TV SHOW.

    Think about this for a moment. This wasn’t about US, it was about HER.

    So we have three gay people (you keep forgetting Jim Pietrangelo!) willing to make this about the gay people, not about a lame tv show on Bravo.

    Could things have been done differently? Yes, they could have. But if the HRC is going out of its way to regularly work against the smaller groups instead of supporting them, this is what happens.

    BUT…Dan and Jim and McGhee are getting all the press while most people are saying “Kathy who?”, and I have to say, that makes me VERY happy. The HRC is a waste, Joe and Kathy would never get their hands dirty in the trenches, and I know where my money is going to go from here on out…

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Cam: Let me add that this discussion is also not new regarding a minority group seeking its rights. MLK had AA detractors who did not see the value of political activism. They wanted to work through “proper channels” and not rock the boat because that’s the “realistic” way to get things done. They felt he was too ‘radical.’ Don’t push to hard or we might lose what we already have is what they would say. People aren’t going to give us our rights unless we are “unassuming” or “fit in” or “safe.”

    The early gay civil rights efforts faced similar.

    The interesting thing is that 70 percent of the public, and the bulk of the military wants DADT repeal, and thus, it is not surprising that they would support activists fighting for a change in the law, especially those like Choi who are directly affected by the laws as they are.

    Yet, the biggest detractors of this sort of activism is not the general public but either a) conservative extremism or b) gays. The irony of the two groups coming together against civil disobedience is not lost on me.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @DR: In fairness to Griffin, her show last year was a great platform for discussing the impact of a lack of marriage equality on people’s lives when she looked at the couple in which one was not able to use his health insurance plan to help his partner despite the fact the partner was slowly becoming disabled. She’s a PR hound, but she does have her value for getting the message out there too. I also think the idea that HRC does not serve a purpose is false. They are all part of a larger scheme. The real problem is that HRC works against such grass roots efforts rather than encourages it as “see this is what will happen if you don’t get us what we want” when they are lobbying.

  • Cam

    No. 48 · D’oh, The Magnificent
    @Cam: Here’s the thing. You already mentioned that defense earlier. Others have in previous threads and this one mentioned the historical analogs of why this sort of activism matters. Yet, people are still disputing the claims. I applaud your efforts to try to address Chance. But, really, what’s the point?

    The reason I continue to address them is because I’ve seen what happens on the blogs when you don’t. Trolls come in here and make a statement, and if nobody corrects it, that statement starts to become accepted as “Conventional Wisdom”. After the March in DC a few months ago people were coming in here saying that there were less than 5 thousand at the march, they posted pictures of a few people hanging out on the Capital Lawn, they kept saying that and I saw the gay people in here start saying things like “Well even if the march wasn’t huge, it was still meaningfull” So then I pointed out that the footage on the news had most of the people waving rainbow flags, that even a few of the anti-gay people mentioned the rainbow flags, and yet in the pictures they were posting, NOBODY was waving a rainbow flag and that the picutres were obviously fake. We then put up links to other pictures that showed massive crowds. But if we hadn’t addressed them, people would have possibly taken them at their word. It’s the same with the Mormons that come in here and say their church doesn’t involve itself in politics, or that the did allow blacks membership before 1980, as soon as you post up facts, it stops that B.S. from becoming accepted fact. AS for this one, it’s similar, in that, Sure I mentioned it before, but they pretetend they didn’t see it and continue to say things like “This is going to make us look bad” I’m merely pointing out that the news is on our side, the political blogs are favorable to Choi so their comments are not making sense.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Cam: I appreciate that. My thesis is not that you are wrong per se, but that they will be back again saying the exact same things (probably under different screen names supporting each other) the next time. I also have been following blogging for a while. I think there are a lot of organizations and people who have an agenda outside of really discussing the issues at hand. Your example of the Mormons is a great one. During the Prop 8 battles, I later found out that some organizations openly admitted to paying bloggers to post to a key list of sites to influence the internet opinion. Outside of that, there are just people who really don’t want to rock the boat, and they will use any absurd argument to defend such a stance. I remember , for example, Andrew Sullivan recounting how the protesters after Prop 8 were wrong to protest because some random person emailed into his site to whine about marchers slowing down traffic as the “supporter of gay rights” was making her way to a wine festival. She said she supported gay rights, but no more because they slowed her approach to the wine festival. I thought Sullivan was going to attack her for such an absurd argument. Instead, he defended her saying he agreed. that was a lesson in people with agendas will simply repeat the agenda. Honestly, that’s our society now. Bullshit artists reign. I am not sure you care going to change it. Indeed, I was one of those people fooled by the crowd issue with the march. There is just so much bullshit that the people seeking to lie can use against any one person trying to fight against the tide. THey have a major advantage in that they don’t have to in their mind prove a single thing. I mean- has chance proven a single thing he wrote here? No. But he’s asking you to do so. That’s enough for me to say, thanks, but no thanks.

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    I don’t get any of you detractors. You whine that Gay, Inc. has become ineffective, you moan for new efforts, and then you bash those make an effort.

    You, detractors, are using the same illogic that our true enemies are also using. You act as though this is the only effort being engaged to fight for gay rights. Whether its NOM and Company regarding marriage-equality or religious/military wingnuts who want to keep LGBT out of the military; they make their arguments as though adopting gay friendly policy positions MEANS THE END of straight marriage and means that straight servicemembers being accepted in the military.

    Here, the many detractors, are suggesting that this is the only effort being used. Well its not. As Queerty and many of the detractors and supporters have posted before, Gay, Inc. is not as effective as it once was. So, new blood and new ideas. BUT, that does not mean that yesterday’s efforts are the exclusive efforts employed to repeal DADT. HRC will still be engaging in its lobbying efforts, GLAAD will still raise stinks about unfair media representation, the gay service member organizations are still working to fight the legal battle.

    Here is what we do know about yesterday’s event: rabid homophobic bigots’ minds will never be changed so who the fuck cares what they think; every news organization covered the story and most, except FOX, the home of homophobic bigots whose minds won’t change and we shouldn’t give a fuck about, gave a favorable view of the protest; awareness is reaffirmed to middle America where over 70% of Americans support ending DADT.

    How, in anyone’s mind, can you not think that more good than bad came from Choi & Company’s actions. The “be all to end all”? of course not. A step in the direction of new action to revive the efforts, absolutely. Need more new ideas and efforts to accomplish the task — no doubt.


    John Kennedy once quipped that “I always know when Mrs. Kennedy has invited Linus Pauling to dinner. I can watch him protesting me from the Oval Office all afternoon.” [Pauling, Nobel Prize Chemistry 1954, Nobel Peace Prize 1962]

    The point is that activism takes all sorts of shapes and sizes, new ideas and old, and the heart to make a difference. Lt. Choi has that heart; and it is disingenuous for blog posters sitting at home complaining to critique him for making his own personal stand.

    I, and many scores more, stopped traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, as an ActUP protest for HIV/AIDS awareness. Thousands of very angry drivers delayed in their commutes; but angry too that the government was doing diddley squat in HIV/AIDS awareness, education, research and treatment.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    I think the real point is that people see a mirror in what the activist are doing, and the reflection says to the detractors that they are doing nothing to change their own victimhood by the society, but these people however implausibly are. It is easier to attack the courageous for showing courage than to look into oneself to ask why we all aren’t doing the same thing. Some people are more self aware of this reality than other.

  • Chance

    Actually, you’re right. These arguments have been made before, but they’ve been responded to before as well. You forgot to mention that part.

    Yes, Choi got a dollop of media attention (when it wasn’t even covered by the NYTimes, how successful can you really call an event of this type?), from the few usual suspects who have been supportive of us through marches on washington, hypothetical DADT repeal and ENDA passage, and the rest. But none of that signifies change. There’s no surprise that Rick Sanchez had a couple of nice things to say about Choi, much less Rachel Maddow (who, actually, said much less). Their support is welcome, of course, and its good to hear them mention us. But our battle isn’t with the Ricks and the Rachels. Nor with their audiences. Those who have already heard Rick and Rachel, and agreed with their sympathy for our cause, will not be effected by yesterday’s events. Neither will those who have already heard Rick and Rachel and disagreed, and neither will those who have heard this all before and remained unmoved one way or another. This isn’t cultural outreach, it’s the same sermon to the same choir, now with a couple of new rhetorical flourishes. Unfortunately, this did little to reach the uninitiated, and less to ask for their help.

    D’oh – I’ve said little – mostly I’ve asked. Questions that Cam has addressed, and I appreciate that, but questions that you feel are insignificant or beneath you. I have absolutely no respect for that. If you can’t, or can’t be bothered to defend your own assertions, that’s fine. But stop espousing them and blaming others for your own shortcomings.

  • Chance

    Yes, Mike, the same old techniques will continue to be employed, but their stubbor persistence does nothing to suddenly transmute them into a productive, effective strategy. This unwillingness to challenge the validity of our tactics, this absolute resistance to accountability, is the best way to guarantee a future of the same doomed incrementalism we’ve suffered through in the last two decades.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chance: Your responses are not based in history or current political realities. Thus, as I said last night you have an over inflated since of repeating your opinions without adding any reasons factually why we should give a damn what you think. I don’t need to defend my assertions. Nor does anyone else. You have not given us any real arguments of substance to have to address given the weight of history. The minute you can actually argue from history as to why activism is wrong, then you might matter. As it is, you are just an idiot with a computer. You also manipulatively (not unexpected given your agenda) ignore all the other evidence leveled by Cam and others. That’s why I don’t spend too much time with folks like you. You are a waste of time. You spend your time trying to argue against positions rather than proving your own. Some one provides you proof, you and argue that proof is insufficient. By what burden do you determine that? Yours? Again, who the fuck are you and why should anyone give a shit whatyou think?

  • Chance

    Oh. I’m sorry. I thought we needed support. But clearly, you with all of your well thought out ideas, thorough intellectual accountability, and reasonable, even-handed discussion, have that all wrapped up. Good luck out there. It’s such a shame you won’t be talking to me anymore. You always had such stimulating conversation to offer.

  • Chitown Kev

    I actually like Queerty’s take on this and DR’s analysis.

    I’ve never though that we needed HRC OR CD actions such as Choi’s; we need BOTH.

    Joe Solomonese needs to saty quiet and do their job (because it is important) and allow the CD activists to do theirs. It’s not a competition.

  • DR

    @D’oh, The Magnificent:

    And? The fact of the matter is that Kathy Griffin is in no way qualified to be running a weekend of events on DADT. The HRC left its courage home and allowed a famewhore to run the show, with them trailing behind wagging their tails as they always do, without doing any real work.

    Dan and Jim and Robin were totally on point in taking this weekend back, it shouldn’t have been given to Kathy Griffin for ratings, and Dan was right when he told the crowd this is not a joke, it’s OUR lives.

    I’m tired of so-called gay advocacy groups running to straight people like a bunch of directionless, needy children who desire nothing more than to be affirmed by media whores like Kathy Griffin. That’s why the HRC isn’t successful. Maybe instead of having a DADT protest weekend sponsored by Kathy Griffin and Bravo TV, they could grow a pair and do something on their own.

    I’m all for straight allies, but this was a joke, plain and simple. I’m glad it was disrupted, I’m glad the spotlight got taken off of HRC and Kathy, and I’m proud of Dan and Jim and Robin and the others who got arrested yesterday. THOSE are the people we ought to be supporting, not the media whores.

  • Cam

    No. 61 · DR

    No. 62 · Chance

    Agree with both posts.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @DR: I didn’t say she was qualified or should be chosen. I don’t blame her for the mistake of others having choosen her. THus, my attempt to point out that this is not all about her. But you k now what, think what you want. I am tired of arguing overthis.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Chitown Kev: For HCR it is due to the money factor. Monopolies make more money than those with competition.

  • DR

    @D’oh, The Magnificent:

    She willingly puts herself out there as an advocate for gay rights. She has actively sought us out, has actively used us to further her career, and yesterday was a sham. She spent the last week making herself look like a fool with her pseudo-political commentary. She is not an innocent victim, she chose this route ages ago, the HRC just capitalized on it.

    If she wants to be “advocate” for “her gays”, she needs to be willing to get her hands dirty, just like Joe needs to get her hands dirty. Otherwise, they’re just talking heads asking for money and being public figureheads with no real substance.

  • Hyhybt

    Lt. Choi just sank his just-restored military career…and it’s no loss to the US military.

    Hey, they’re throwing him out anyway, so why not?

    Whether any of this will do any good, I don’t know. Almost certainly it never will be known.

  • Bob

    There’s was a time in the black civil rights movement when they had to wake up the country to what was happening to black people. But once the country couldn’t ignore it any longer, the protests moved to political action–electing fair minded people to state legislatures and Congress, passing laws, changing law enforcement attitudes to enforce those laws. The process isn’t over, but to stage a protest a la 1960 wouldn’t do much to advance racial discrimination–electing Obama was the needed next step.

    There was a time in 1969 and the ’70s and ’80s when the country needed to see us–to know and understand the discrimination we felt. We got their attention. Now it’s time for political action. HRC has its faults, but it’s been fighting those necessary political campaigns for years. Why didn’t the Iowa legislature vote to ban marriage equality after the Iowa court decision? Because HRC started working in 2003 to help elect people to the Iowa legislature who would block any such attempt. If you want to get rid of DADT, put pressure on the 6 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who aren’t supporting voting the bill out of committee. That’s were the pressure needs to be felt. If we get 3 out of those 6 senators, the bill gets voted out of committee, attached to the defense authorization bill, and DADT is history by August. Think strategically and intelligently folks–that’s how we will win DADT and ENDA. Chaining ourselves to fences and sit ins in offices of legislators who have been our strongest supporters won’t change anything.

  • Martin Pal

    The people who complain about civil disobedience the loudest are people who would never do it in the first place and don’t believe it does any good, in the second place. I was always taught that you should tell toehrs if they have hurt you. CD is telling people that they’ve hurt you. It gives you a voice and if more join in it gives you voices. Are any of you suggesting the people of Iran should not have gone into the streets last year to protest the elections? They did that under threat of gunfire or worse. To say that a protest like Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo did “made them look stupid” is to not understand much about why people resort to CD in most cases. And to others who think everything should be planned out beforehand don’t know history. Change is often messy, not scripted, it’s the direction we’re going that should be focused on. Good for all of you taking action.

    Also–Kathy Griifin bashers. At least she has a public forum with which she uses to support gay people, would you rather she wasn’t there at all?

  • Jude

    I heard Lt. Dan Choi’s speech just before Robin chained him to the gates, then I heard his speech today after he was released from jail. I found both to be heartfelt and genuine. I’m straight, female and 55 years old. Heard of the civil rights movement, Vietnam, ACT UP? Civil disobedience works. Personally, I like the idea of having a West Point graduate who speaks Arabic in the military DEFENDING OUR COUNTRY.

    Robin and Kip making money off the march? Um, no. Robin is a mother of two who wants equality for her family and is fed up with waiting.

    Mahatama Gandhi, Lech Walesa, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Henry David Thoreau, Nelson Mandala. Were they idiots?

    If you have a better idea, post it. What have you done to win equality?

  • jeffree

    @Jude: YEA Jude! Thanks for expressing your support!!

    @Cam and @D’OH.
    P/L/E/A/S/E don’t stop contributing here or anywhere because of the negators and haters & the naysayers. i’m nowhere close yet to being so knowledgeable or articulate but people like you inspire me!! thanks!
    {cyberhugs} from Jeff

  • ossurworld

    If they still give Dishonorable Discharges to gay men for being gay, Lt. Choi is sadly the next candidate…

Comments are closed.