blood money

How Did NGLTF ‘Create Change’ This Weekend? By Accepting Cash From Bigot Supporter Best Buy

Creating Change, the five-day queer mega-conference wrapping up today in Minneapolis, didn’t just appear from pixie dust and Rea Carey’s crossed fingers. No, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which hosts the event, requires some serious cash infusions from corporate sponsors to make it all happen. And who’s donating some dinero right up there next to American Airlines, Hilton Worldwide, and General Mills? Oh, just a little electronics retailer called Best Buy, which donated $100,000 to Minnesota Forward, the PAC that tried (and failed) to elect Tom Emmer governor of Minnesota. Yes, that’s the same PAC to which Target donated $100k in cash and $50k in services — and was awarded the ire of Gay America, thanks in part to his support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

NGLTF describes the Creating Change conference as “the nation’s pre-eminent political, leadership and skills-building conference for the LGBT social justice movement” that seeks to “build our movement’s political power from the ground up to secure our overarching goal of full equality, social justice and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States.”

Good plan!

But one way you might start securing our full equality, social justice, and dignity is by not accepting money from companies that actively work to keep queer Americans second-class. You know, because then gays might get the wrong idea about which companies they should support: the ones that work against us, the ones that support us, or the ones who try to have it both ways all in the name of earnings.

(At least it wasn’t Chick-fil-A that sponsored Creating Change, but Chili’s — the least favorite restaurant of Peter LaBarbera.)

As Queerty reader David notes, “Was there ever a statement from Best Buy saying that they regretted their $100,000 donation to Minnesota Forward and thus gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer? Have they ever said that they have changed their policies and will not support anti-LGBT politicians?” Nope.

(Full disclosure: Queerty appeared on a panel at Creating Change. We did not receive a free Blu-ray player.)

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  • VaJeena

    Jesus Christ, money is money. Stop bitching about it!

  • Shannon1981

    I am honestly confused. Why would they give money to Creating Change when they have so openly supported anti gay politicians? Things that make ya go hmmmm….just trying to make themselves look good maybe?

  • Andrew

    @Shannon1981: They support the pro-business (otherwise known as corporate welefare) policies of politicians like Tome Emmer, not their anti-gay positions.

  • Schteve

    Good lord. Just because you support a politician doesn’t mean you agree with every political position he takes. Obviously businesses preferred Emmer for his business stances, not his gay ones.

    A question for the author of this: Did you vote for Barack Obama? If so, you surely must agree with all of his anti-gay positions like believing marriage is between one man and one woman!

  • Shannon1981

    @Andrew: gotcha. I admit I am not up on corporate stuff like this. Thank you for the explanation.

  • Shelley

    @Andrew: Horse pucky!
    What do they think their candidates will do once in power?

  • Qjersey

    We bitch about the HRC, but we let the NGLTF off the hook. Creating Change? Where?

  • CHIP1218

    I went to one of those Creating Change Conferences about 8 years ago, it was the biggest waste of my time and my university’s money. I could have done so much more with the $1,000 my trip cost my university for our LGBT community than the “knowledge” I gained from that conference.

  • justiceontherocks

    Couldn’t they sing Kumbaya and congratulate themselves for accomplishing nothing in some place better than Minnesota in February?

  • JAW

    WAIT… the article says…
    “(Full disclosure: Queerty appeared on a panel at Creating Change. We did not receive a free Blu-ray player.)”

    So now I am confused… If Queerty is so upset, why would they appear on the panel, get paid to be on the panel, get a free hotel room so they could stay at the event, get free transportation to and from the event and I bet free food at drink at the event…

    Sounds like Queerty has a double standard… In order to pay Queerty all the above, Creating Change needed money form folks like Best Buy… so sounds to me like Queerty took some indirect money from Best Buy… but since it was Queerty that profited it is ok to accept blood money…

    as an FYI… I do not support the boycott aganist BB and Target… I would support a boycott against Sirius/XM Radio… who support all kinds of extreme Far Right hate people

  • StephenG

    I don’t about everyone else but I just had an amazing experience at cc11. I met some incredible people and feel so energized to start organizing in my San Antonio community.

  • Tom

    The donation makes perfect sense. The Creating Change conference has created precisely zero change in 23 years. NGLTF has been in existence since 1973 and after 38 years it still hasn’t achieved its primary original legislative goal – a federal gay civil rights law. And while it has been failing for 4 decades at this objective, it has expanded its goals to include those of virtually every “social justice” movement in the country. It has been as useless in that regard as it has been in the area of federal gay rights.

    So if I was running an anti-gay corporation and I wanted to make a meaningless gesture that would be good PR, but which wouldn’t actually help the gay movement, I would surely choose the Creating Change conference for a donation.

  • alex

    Hey! In defense of CC, I went last year and not only learned some life-changing, work-changing skills, but also networked my ass off and made contacts that made a big difference for my own non-profit. You get out of the conference what you put into it. I didn’t use it as a 5-day excuse to get laid and party with queers from across the nation; I treated it as a professional conference that was an excellent opportunity for me to advance my own business (and therefore our cause).

  • 1844

    Best Buy has a 100% rating from HRC.

  • Daniel

    @JAW: I was the Queerty writer who was on the panel. And while Creating Change kindly waived the conference registration fee for me as a member of the press, I was most certainly NOT PAID to be on the panel, DID NOT get a free hotel room to stay at the event, DID NOT get free transportation to and from the event and I BOUGHT MY OWN lunches, dinner, and drinks outside of the complimentary breakfast provided at the Holiday Inn Express.

    Overall, I spent about $1,000 of my own money to attend and learn more about AIDS, LGBT seniors, sex workers, anti-queer laws, new media organizing, trans employment issues, and religious outreach so I can write about intelligently about those issues for our readers. So save your crap outrage and learn the facts before you shoot your mouth off, eh?

  • Marlene

    Tom — The NGLTF may not have been successful at the national level so far (along with Gay, Inc.), but they’ve been massively successful at the local level!

    Last year, Bowling Green, Ohio was in the center of the battle for TLBG equal rights when a cabal of bigots got enough signatures to challenge two non-discrimination ordinances which were passed back in 2009.

    The Task Force gave us two challenge grants to the tune of $20,000! They also provided *paid* staff to help us organize volunteers and canvassers, not to mention a massive media blitz. If it weren’t for the forts of Leslie, Jen, Bex, and so many others, we wouldn’t have won our fight!

    If I ever win the lottery, you can bet I’d be donating a ton of it to The Task force, and tell Gay, Inc. to back to their parties and go fuck some more congressional staffers, cause that’s all they’re good for.

  • thematics

    Does Best Buy provide equivalent employee benefits (e.g. health ins.) to its LGB employees? Do they have a non-discrimination clause and an employee resource group? Those are things that matter more than a contribution to a politician.

  • thematics

    Oops, our posts crossed paths. Thanks for the info.

    Try talking the NGTLF into hosting the conference somewhere warmer next year!

  • Marlene

    @Daniel Not to mention friends of mine driving through the blizzard to make it to the conference from Ohio!

  • Tom

    @Marlene: I’ll acknowledge that the 20 grand was a positive thing. But all this shows is that when gays donate $1.00 to NGLTF, they can expect something like 5-10 cents to be deployed effectively. The rest goes to pay for their Washington DC “operations” – including many sweet 6-figure salaries – that have accomplished nothing for nearly 40 years. It is a similar story at HRC. They deploy a few hundred grand effectively in local fights, but the remainder of their $40 million revenue gets swallowed up in the Washington DC black hole. We would be better off w/o them, freeing up large sums of donor cash to go directly to groups like yours.

    Also, NGLTF’s crack staff are not as great as you make out. I am glad it all worked out well for you, but in Maine, they ran the get-out-the-vote effort and failed fairly spectacularly. Although much of that campaign was done well, failure to GOTV was fatal, and NGLTF’s experts failed to match the efforts of the fairly inept Yes on 1 campaign.

  • justiceontherocks

    @Marlene: One non-fail in a small college town does not make them “massively successful at the local level.”

    They are phony activists, charmed by process rather than action.

  • I am a Gay BBY Employee

    Best Buy does indeed have partner benefits, has policies and guides on assisting with and dealing with transitioning Transgender employees, has GLBT Employee Groups in over 35 markets and has donated much money to GLBT organizations across the United States through its “Tag Team Awards” on behalf of their employees who have donated time and efforts to organizations.

    Best Buy made a donation to a PAC which in turn supported a candidate who may or may not have been aligned with the moral values of many of their employees and the majority of their corporate policies, but indeed the PAC was for growing business in Minnesota and in turn nationally. I may not like Tom Emmer and personally feel Mark Dayton will be a better Governor, but in general terms, Republicans are usually stronger with big business and breaks for corporations.

    I am an employee of Best Buy, as is my partner and many of my GLBT friends. We have NEVER once felt any inkling of being treated less then by our direct bosses and the company. In fact in regards to this recent donation made to Minnesota Forward the company created policies and committees that any large donations on that level now needs to pass through. To say that Best Buy is bigoted and non-supportive to the GLBT community is untrue and quite honestly unfair.

  • ActivistBoi

    I would simply like to know the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s reasoning behind accepting the donation from Best Buy in sponsoring the Creating Change conference.

    If the Task Force has negotiated a change in corporate policy from Best Buy regarding future PAC donations in support of anti-LGBT candidates, that is major news and should be shared with the community.

    The Task Force portrays itself as encouraging regional organizing from the grassroots. The ongoing boycotts of Target, Best Buy and, most recently, Chick-fil-A are examples of the LGBT community organizing through social media and standing up on its own – not taking marching orders from our traditional advocacy organizations who may or may not have conflicts of interest.

    At the very least, an explanation is in order.

  • Brian Miller

    @Shannon1981: Did you vote for Obama and Biden?

    Obama opposes marriage equality, Joe Biden voted for DOMA and DADT as a Senator.

    I get tired of all the pearl-clutching over political contributions by hypocrites. It would be one thing if Obama and Biden were tireless fighters for equal rights for LGBT people, but complaining about the GOP’s homophobia while pretending that the Democrats don’t have the same substantive policy positions is just ridiculous.

  • JAW


    Daniel… Sorry… I guess I misunderstood what happened. I thought that you received a special invitation, by them, to be a key part of a panel, not just as a member of the press, covering the event.

    Can you do me a favor and look into why we do not try a boycott against Sirius/XM radio. They have more homophobes on that network, yet we say nothing about them.

  • bfenster

    I seriously can’t believe there are still queers sticking up for Best Buy for making “a business decision” in supporting Tom Emmer. Maybe if this ad in the Creating Change program had said, “We’re sorry we gave to a man like Tom Emmer, who not only wants to ban you from getting married, but he wants to take away your rights to adoption, and he financially supports a religious ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, that thinks it’s moral to kill you.”

    It didn’t.

    Letting Best Buy off the hook for their donation in support of Emmer shows how too many queer people are really too comfortable to rock the boat for their own rights. It’s like the GOProud folks sticking up for Chick-fil-A, which they’ve done. Can we please stop pretending that when you give money to support a political candidate, you can separate their politics on business from their politics on social issues? You can’t. You get the whole package, and in Best Buy’s case, they gave money to someone who boasts about his hatred of LGBT people.

  • Paul

    Bitch blog……change the name it fits better! All you do is bitch, kinda fun but getting really old. Is this written by teenagers? I can only imagine that a naive young person comes out with these stances. What a nice closed in look at the world.

  • GetBalance

    This writer is not up to snuff on politics. First off the dollar amount from BB to Create Change wasn’t mentioned. Bad bad faux pas. Second, if equal justice for all is the prize then cash is the constitution it’s wrapped in.

    Some people say sorry in ways other than to this writers liking, like a big fat check. What boat did this writer miss? Seems like all of ’em.

  • JAW


    GetBalance… According to the Creating Change web site… The price of being the Vol Ops Sponsor cost Best Buy $20,000…

    That is nothing to sneeze at

  • Chris

    Here’s my two cents: Stop complaining and whimpering like a sour dog and if you have a problem with the company then actively boycott them. I refuse to pay any money out to any company that doesn’t support us one hundred percent AND does not side with ANY political person who believes in taking away the little rights we have or keeping us from getting the ones we need.

    I survive well enough alone with local grocers who support equality in my area, and Amazon for everything else. At least I know that Jeff Bedos actually made a statement about how money to anti-LGBT politicians Does in fact cause harm to our community in the long run and why he does not, at least now that is, give money to any politician or their crusade (sorry I mean campaign).

    Pittering and Pattering those little feet, and pointing fingers at LGBT who are sick and tired of the horse-shit politics get you where; I may ask? Corporations are like little children, give them an inch they take a mile. Beat them and they resist. Teach them what they did is wrong, and why it is wrong and then punish them for it, and they learn. Of course it is not that simple, both a massive boycott must be in effect where a sizable majority of people, not just us LGBT, join together; but also ad campaigns that not only smear these companies for their support in anti-gay politicians, but also show the harm that is caused to “innocent children” when people like Emmers get elected.

  • GetBalance


    I agree. They made their statement of new found support of the lgbt community. I don’t think it’s necessary to grovel in apologies, $20k says it loud and clear.

  • the crustybastard

    @I am a Gay BBY Employee:

    I understand your point that Best Buy has policies that are beneficial to YOU personally.

    However, that doesn’t excuse Best Buy’s knowingly laundering a political contribution to vituperatively anti-gay politician through a PAC.

    Principles don’t stop at Payroll, sport.

  • Michael Jays

    yeah, but so does Obama.

  • GetBalance


    Thx for your post. I need an optical drive for my notebook, I will be buying it at BB.


  • I am a Gay BBY Employee


    This is the issue here – BBY did NOT support Tom Emmer, no one from BBY came out an said we want Tom Emmer elected Governor, nor did they say we want his opponent elected either. They donated the money to a PAC for the expressed purpose of job growth and business expansion. This PAC, Minnesota Forward then chose to donate to Emmer’s campaign because he was the better candidate on the issues pertaining to business growth.

    Blaming BBY for this PAC’s donation to Tom Emmer is similiar to buying a friend a candle and he burns down his house with it – should you be to blame?

    BBY has been far more supportive of our community then its perceived anti-gay stance. BBY has been hurt by this no question – I am sure people are staying away and employees feelings have been hurt due to this maligned vision that is given with questions and borderline harassment from others in our community.

    Also BBY lost its 100% HRC rating this year do to this.

  • the crustybastard

    @I am a Gay BBY Employee: “Blaming BBY for this PAC’s donation to Tom Emmer is similiar to buying a friend a candle and he burns down his house with it – should you be to blame?”

    God, that is such a bullshit metaphor.

    When a person puts a check in the basket at a Catholic church, do they have any right to be surprised or outraged if the church uses that money to defend a child rapist or lobby against gay equality? No — they chose to let the Catholic church spend their money the way the church sees fit.

    Nothing would have prevented Best Buy from spending its political funds in a way that wouldn’t have ended up in a homophobic extremist’s pockets. There’s a million ways to do exactly that. They either couldn’t be bothered to do right, or they meant to do wrong.

    They’re culpable either way.

  • GetBalance

    @ I am a gay …

    Has anyone updated HRC like you have updated us here?

  • GetBalance


    Do any implications here even hint to you that the pros far outweigh the cons and therefore one might give BB the benefit of the doubt? From the sounds of it via an employee, BB is very lgbt supportive.

  • the crustybastard


    Trust me, I’m really nice to my friends. Therefore — applying your argument — I should be excused for getting someone to beat the shit out of you.

    But hey, you spend your money at Best Buy because you think the fact that they’re fair to their employees outweighs all other considerations. Just try not to forget that you were complicit when they pull this political shit again. And given their unapologetic attitude, that’s definitely a “when,” not an “if.”

  • GetBalance

    You can actually read comment #22 and still hold a grudge? Aren’t you just trashing everything said there?

  • ActivistBoi

    I, for one, don’t want to “trash” anyone. I want everyone to support full LGBT equality.

    What Best Buy is doing for its queer employees is commendable. It sets the bar very high. However, corporate political donations are the question here.

    I have no quibble with the existence of the Creating Change conference. Some who attend find it less than useful, while many others find it to be a life-changing experience. To each her/his own.

    My bigger concern is the thinking at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in accepting a donation from Best Buy for Creating Change. I would like to know what discussions were undertaken and the results of these conversations. Did it result in a change in practice at Best Buy regarding political contributions to PACs supporting anti-gay candidates?

  • JAW

    @the crustybastard:

    With your logic, there would not be many, if any, candidates that support us 100%. Gay rights are very important to me, but so are issues with the economy, health benefits, the wars, and many quality of life issues.
    When I vote, I choose the candidate that will take care of as many of the issues they he/she can. Sadly, sometimes marriage rights fall to # 2, 3, 4, on my list.

    I want to see full marriage rights ASAP, but the other issues are as important, if not more so. If a candidate is anti gay, but I agree with pretty much everything else, I might just support and vote for him. That is what Best Buy did also. Best Buy needs to do what is best for as many of their customers, employees and investors that they can.

  • GetBalance

    I also see stated that they don’t just support their gay employees, they also donate time and cash to lgbt causes. That also is applicable and commendable.

  • the crustybastard


    Yes, I read #22. No, it’s not a “grudge.”

    Imagine ABC company gave money to a PAC that, among other things, financially supports candidates who endorse repealing the birthright citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, ABC company also provides equal employment benefits to even their most “ethnic” employees.

    Apparently, you’d give ABC Co. a pass on their political activities because the foreign-born employees are content and you obviously want to shop there.

    You want me to tell you that’s okay. I won’t.

Comments are closed.