Whether you grew familiar with Robin McGehee — the lesbian mom-cum-activist — during Fresno’s Meet In The Middle rally, her spearheading the National Equality March, her not-so-quiet divorce, her formation of Get Equal, or her Thursday arrest during Dan Choi’s White House chaining, by now you know she’s very quickly catapulted herself to the forefront of gay activism. In wanting to know what’s been driving McGehee up to this point, we emailed her a few questions about what’s in store — which she had to take a beat in getting back to us, because she was helping Choi get out of prison.
QUEERTY: Was it your intent to get arrested? What was the experience in jail like?
It was my intent to send a message that we will no longer wait and except excuses, compromises or empty promises. I realized an arrest could be an outcome, but I was willing in our fight for equality to take that risk. And, I STILL AM. My intent was to force the issue around DADT.
The arrest was very interesting.
Is it true Get Equal and Choi were working with each other? Is he an official liaison of Get Equal?
I called Dan on Tuesday because I was very upset with the debacle of the Kathy Griffin show in DC. While I was here in DC, with GetEQUAL, planning the ENDA actions at Pelosi’s office I asked if he was willing to do some sort of action at the HRC rally. The mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality and to hold accountable those who stand in our way, so it only seemed fitting to call HRC to task for making DADT a joke with some of the antics of her show this past week. Dan’s response was that his issue was with the White House and that he would prefer to take action there, not at Freedom Plaza. I told him that I would help him organize what ever he wanted to do – because in my mind the people that need to speak for DADT is NOT Kathy Griffin, but the people who actually suffer because of the injustice of DADT. Don’t get me wrong, Kathy Griffin is funny, but what is NOT funny is the service members who suffer because of Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell.
One of our goals is to help anyone and everyone who wants to take action. What do you need – a bullhorn, bail money, handcuffs – if the action is a great idea, we’ll make it happen. We HAVE TO organize our lunch counter moments and make those happen. Dan and Jim asked for help and we helped.
Do you consider Thursday’s events a success? Did anything happen that was unexpected?
Yes, we had 4 actions that were pulled off as successful as I would have wanted.
* HRC event was redirected to the White House, where the true pressure needs to be applied
* White House action
* DC Pelosi action
* SF Pelosi action
I had planned to be involved with the action at Pelosi’s office that was demanding a date for a House vote for a trans-positive ENDA, I did not plan to be arrested at the White House – but, when Dan asked me to support his mission for Obama, I felt it was very fitting, since my frustration is truly with him. As I said at Meet in the Middle rally, I want Obama to show the courage that convinced me to work to elect him.
Are you disappointed in HRC, or Kathy Griffin?
ABSOLUTELY – HRC needs to know – they have a HUGE problem. They are completely disconnected from their community and their base and there is a way to reconnect, but I think they are so consumed with fundraiser events and t-shirt sells to really engage in a conversation about why the organization that is NATIONALLY branded to represent us is NOT connected to those who feel disenfranchised. I know that I, and many others, would love to have an open and honest conversation about how to build a better army, but I don’t believe there are ready or willing to have that conversation.
David Mixner is among your brand new supporters. How do you plan to merge “old activism” with “new activism”? Or do you consider what you’re doing to be one in the same?
David Mixner is a hero to us. Kip, Dan, Jim and I – as well as the many others who were arrested on Thursday have admired his true patriotism to our community and to our country for so very long. What we do is completely done with direct influence from his leadership. Mixner has supported us since the National Equality March and his advice as a leader in our movement who also chained himself to the WH fence in opposition to Clinton’s decision to compromise around the DADT bill is one of the exact reasons we admire him and trusted his input.
He has offered support and advice for GetEQUAL’s mission since long before last week’s action.
Well, what’s next?
We need people to go to our website, sign on, take the pledge. The questions there will ask if you are willing to sign up for non-violent civil disobedience – if you are ready, we have bail money, legal services and a strategy to make change. We want volunteers who are ready to take action and not only with the efforts of phone banking, lettering writing and doing lobby visits.