michael petrelis

Why Is Gay Inc. Sitting Out This Week’s Most Brazen Round of Visible Activism?

A House committee hearing was disrupted today by members of GetEqual, who demanded action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was not on the official agenda for the Congressional representatives. Click here to read the Dallas Voice coverage, including the news release from GetEqual, along with pics and a vid.Missing in action at the hearing? The usual Gay Inc suspects: GLAAD, HRC and NGLTF.

The handsomely compensated executive directors, along with their staffers, could honestly say that since ENDA was not part of the hearing’s agenda, there was no reason to be there. I would disagree.

As we see with GetEqual’s recent zap of President Obama and six gay military vets arrested at the White House fence, a little bit of noise and proud uppity-ness can put our gay issues on the political and media agenda, when our issues were not expected to come up. It’s called good leadership when members of a minority community, after decades of empty promises from Democratic Party pols, force our issues to be addressed and reported on.

Now, I’m not saying the A-gays running the show at Gay Inc orgs need to act up along with the GetEqual activists at every Congressional hearing where ENDA and its markup should be on the agenda, but I would occasionally like to see executives and staffers from GLAAD, HRC and NGLTF at least pressing the flesh, in a nice way, with the representative.

Why can’t these orgs, which boast of employing an array of diverse tactics on behalf of gays, find a creative way to put ENDA on the agenda, whether the pols like it or not? Sure, we need the diplomatic A-gay approach of Gay Inc, but that shouldn’t be the only tool in their lobbying toolbox. I would like to see Gay Inc staffers showing up at Congressional hearings such as today’s, and at least bearing witness to the non-addressing of ENDA.

Asking these orgs to get creative in order to win some legislative equality is probably too much to ask for, but how about GLAAD, HRC and NGLTF, using their vast media resources and contacts to at minimum inform as many people as possible about the activism of GetEqual?

If there is one thing I know for certain, when Gay Inc cranks up their p.r. machines, they can generate a lot of attention from Democrats and the mainstream media. We need them to use their media and political lists to get the word out about the part of the gay community that is proud to act up.

Yesterday we didn’t hear a peep of acknowledgment from Gay Inc over the zap of Obama and the White House civil disobedience. Sadly, the silence over those actions is compounded by today’s silence from GLAAD, HRC, and NGLTF about the hearing disruption.

What are the orgs touting today? For HRC, it’s that Miss Indiana supports repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. At GLAAD, they’re reporting that “America’s Next Top Model” is on TV tonight. That is more important to tell people about, instead of how real activists are push a gay agenda forward in DC?

And the NGLTF actually has posted something today about ENDA. It’s a letter to Congress, signed by more than 200 gay executives and others, and it contains one sentence: “Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act NOW.” And not one word is said about today’s disruption.

What is the reason for the mute approach of Gay Inc regarding the activism of GetEqual? Are the orgs embarrassed by the activism? Do they fear loss of access to the White House and Democratic Party leaders, if they even acknowledge the anger and the activism of GetEqual? Could the silence be because they are scared A-gays will stop donating and attending Gay Inc galas?

The impossible dream is that GLAAD, HRC and NGLTF become the fierce advocates we need them to be.

This post originally appeared on The Petrelis Files and is republished here with permission.

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  • Paschal

    HRC, etc. have worked for lgbt rights and it’s important that that fact is recognised. Groups such as Get Equal, however, are also very important as they will hopefully energise people to fight for lgbt equality and keep the issue of lgbt rights known to as many as people as possible.

  • David Cornish

    GetEqual has decided to embarrass and humiliate our political friends. When they’re finished we won’t have any political friends. Very smart bunch.

  • Michael

    Well I know the African American population of the US is happy you weren’t one of the leaders when they were fighting for their rights.

    Since you are questionning their tactics… I ask you, What are you doing to further LGBT rights and push for equality?

  • SFNative

    It seems to me that all of the jig-saw puzzles pieces that make our LGBT civil rights movement are on the board now with the welcome addition of GetEQUAL delivering the critical component of civil disobedience. Now is the time for all of the puzzle pieces to come together. Each of us have an important role to play in our civil rights movement, and the sooner that grassroots organizations such as GetEQUAL and larger organizations such as HRC start to work together no matter how loosely towards an overall strategy, the more effective our movement will become. We cannot afford one organization to strike down another; we must always look forward together and not lose sight of equality.

  • wondermann

    @David Cornish: I agree with you. If we think this the way to equality, then we have really lost.

    Oh, and shouting congress faces didn’t get our civil rights in the 60s

  • jeffree

    Gay Inc. is widely seen as ineffective & self serving. So like in any civil rights movement when the “elites” arent getting the job done, other groups sprout up 2 carry the cause forward. Usually those groups find ways to express “We Mean Business.”

    Agree or disagree with Get Equal’s tactics but their frustration w/ the Big Gay Organizations makes sense. Their message is that: “You, US government, need to pay attention to our rights”, a message Big Gay Inc hasnt been able 2 convey –Big Gay Inc.’s results havent been very impressive.

    Get Equal’s message may misfire but I applaud them for the efforts. If *any* of their strategies work, then Gay Inc. looks bad, lazy, & not worth their fancy parties & press releases.

    What’s clear is that until Big Gay Inc can produce results, groups like Get Equal will continue to spring up.

  • Yuki

    We definitely need to be heard… but interrupting our nation’s president in a childish manner is definitely NOT the way to go about it, in my opinion.

  • David Cornish

    @Michael: I wasn’t questioning GetEqual’s tactics – I said very directly they were ineffective and counterproductive.

    Many of us are working very hard to change minds and contribute to the cultural conversation. We have discovered that with simple, direct conversation we can get people to understand our plight and become supporters of our full equality.

    This strategy is very effective. We will obtain our equality when enough people support us. In that context, I don’t think we should try to humiliate or embarrass anyone – especially our friends.

    If GetEqual has some rationale for these childish publicity stunts they should share it with us. To call Rep. Jared Polis (one of our own) a liar with the cameras rolling is beyond stupid. (Watch the video).

  • Aaron

    @David Cornish: You’ve got to be joking, right? What world do you live in?
    Some of us actually have pride and dignity and aren’t willing to sit quietly hoping and expecting that this administration is going to do something for us. Get off your ass and make some noise. The primary reason we don’t have full equality is because of gay people like you who think the best approach is politeness.

  • Kieran

    It’s much nicer and safer to have a cocktail party. Protesting involves risk and it can be dangerous and if we protest too loud it might upset some people. Let’s just sit around and hope for the best. Cheers!!

  • Mark Ryan

    Hopefully, Gay Inc. will completely ignore the embarrassing activities of GetEqual. This is thoughtless high-profile complaining.

    If Petrelis or anyone else thinks we are going to complain our way to equality – please explain how.

    Activists can be smart and pick good fights. There is nothing smart about slapping our friends just for the sake of getting “media coverage.” GetEqual makes us look stupid and childish.

  • counterpoll

    Mark Ryan = David Cornish = AndrewW: same syntax, same arguments, same beliefs. Sock puppets do not count.

    The spiel is always the same: activism does no good.
    When he and his pretend allies suggest better ideas, we welcome them. Until then, it’s thumbs down. He has already been banned from at least one website (they track his ISP) and it’s time for queerty to do the same!

  • Jason in Dallas

    Commenters on Queerty can click on thumbs down and hide this comment if they insist, but avoiding this important conversation about our community, our movement and our equality defeats our collective efforts.

    I used to big a substantial contributor to HRC and NGLTF. I stopped contributing several years ago because they had no idea when or how we would succeed. That wasn’t acceptable. Our collective effort should be figuring out how to actually win, how to succeed.

    GetEqual is the latest effort to further our efforts for full equality. I think they have failed before they even started. So far, none of their actions have been designed to help us achieve our goal of full equality. They have simply been expressions of anger and disappointment. We ALL understand that, but it doesn’t help us.

    The most recent actions have begun a strategy of yelling at everyone – even our friends. Interfering with Obama’s speech – at an event funded by Democratic supporters – backfired because Obama responded with an obvious directive “you are hollering at the wrong crowd.” He made us look insignificant and stupid. We were.

    Today GetEqual ambushed Jared Polis – a gay Member of Congress – and repeatedly called him a liar. The unintelligent conversation hurt us – we embarrassed and humiliated one of our own. Unacceptable by any standard.

    I fully expect HRC, NGLTF, GLAAD, Tim Gil, Bruce Bastion and others to call for a halt to these counterproductive publicity stunts. I was willing to wait and see if GetEqual had given serious thought to their actions. The last few days indicate they have not.

    GetEqual does not speak for me. I do not believe they speak for very many members of the LGBT Community. Their actions are hurting us. They need to stop. They need to think about being effective and adding to our cause – not creating “attention” that makes us look like petulant children. We are better than that, much better.

  • David Cornish

    @Jason in Dallas: GetEqual and their self-proclaimed activists don’t engage in dialog – they block comments that expose their silly antics. They are trying to solicit donations.

  • WiseUp

    The only reason some are putting down Get Equal and calling their actions “stunts” are because they’re desperately trying to hang on to the fantasy that this was the “hero” administration for gays, as opposed to the last “enemy” administration. Grow up and accept reality dudes.

  • Kieran

    It should be obvious to everybody that these dramatic images of gay US soldiers chaining themselves to the White House fence in protest of DADT have definitely NOT been approved of by the establishment lamestream newsmedia. And since these protests haven’t been officially approved of folks, don’t expect to see them covered on TV, radio or the newspapers. It’s like all those huge Anti-War protests and rallies held across America (before Bush launched his bankrupting Iraq War) that the corporate newsmedia didn’t approve of, and therefore pointedly ignored. But Thank God we have the internet to go to to get our information.

  • Tom InEl Paso

    Your childish behavior has been noted. Now go back to our sandbox and let us know when your become real and effective activists.

    You might want to ask some of your elders. After all, many of us managed to raise tens of millions of $$$ to help people with AIDS.

    Grow up or ask for advice. But stop screwing around crying because the big boys aren’t coming to your party. We’re much wiser than that.

  • Gridlock

    I love all the delusional gays chanting about how Democrats are our friends like it’s one big lovefest.

    Wake up. Gays are a political wedge. We’re a ball to be tossed back and forth. We’re a handy source of votes and money they can always count on because they always dangle the carrot just a wee bit too far for us to grab, saying “if you vote for us again, and give us more money, maybe this time…”

    We’ve sat back and played nice for 20 years and look what it’s got us.. cowed gays too terrified of “rocking the boat” to do much of anything except sit back and expect leech like organizations such as HRC do the fighting for them behind the scenes, invisibly.. organizations that have flat out said they value ACCESS more than SUCCESS.

    The hets don’t give a shit about our equality because we are not making it painful enough for them. We’re easily cowed, easily satisfied with scraps and crumbs and when we have the temerity to actually get pissed off, we’re shouted down with screeches of “be quiet/you’re being hysterical/he doesn’t have a magic wand/there are more important things”

    We’re a goddamned PET CAUSE, emphasis on the word PET. They enjoy giving us a headpat to feel good about themselves but when we actually demand action for rights that are inherently ours but denied, they get pissy with us because we’re disturbing the status quo.

    Screw that. We need to be loud, we need to be defiant, we need to be in their face, and we need to disturb their routine. We need to sabotage their complacency. We need to be powerful. We need to be a political THREAT, through a combination of financial means, voting means, and civil disobedience.

    DO not donate, do not give your time, and do not vote for anybody that does not represent YOUR interests. Stop voting for the “good” of everybody else, or for the lesser evil.

    Start demanding a return on your voting investment, NOW. Call their bluff. Be powerful enough to swing an election.


  • Storm

    Wisdom and complacency are not synonyms. It’s far too early for anyone to judge the effectiveness of GetEQUAL. They’re a month old, and they’ve staged a small handful of “zaps.” I was around in the early days of the AIDS crisis, and when ACT UP formed more than a handful of establishment gays told us to sit down and shut up, that we were just upsetting people, that our actions were setting “the cause” back, that we were too radical. Some of our actions were smarter than others, but it was action that drove us forward. Every civil rights effort has required both the carrot and the stick. We need HRC -and- GetEQUAL. And I say that as an HRC Federalist member.

  • John

    Oh yes by all means let’s celebrate the people who feed the 24-hour news cycle and perpetuate this country’s decline into a populist cesspool by making politics a market for who can shout the loudest and be most disruptive.

  • Joey

    @Gridlock: Very well said! I call for a mass act of civil disobedience in D.C. A mass traffic block during rush hours. Mass sit-ins, mass flash mobs, masses of people to chain themselves to the W.H. fence. Whatever the means, I’m game. I’d love to make that 6 hour drive.

  • Mark

    Just because “Gay Inc” wasn’t there doesn’t mean that they don’t support GetEqual. There’s something to be said for having good cops and bad cops, and having the good cops stay silent when the bad cops do their thing. These posts attacking the orgs are so idiotic and shortsighted.

  • Sam

    @Mark: Agreed. Mike Petrelis thinks that if you’re not in the streets screaming, you aren’t doing anything. I can’t speak for HRC, but I know that a lot of “Gay, Inc.” groups are in regular meetings with Congressional leadership and administrative officials, pressuring them to make good on promises. Does he really want those people sitting in a hearing where nothing LGBT is addressed, rather than meeting with people in power and telling them to do something? That makes no sense.

    We make a real full court press when we are pushing from inside and outside. GetEqual doing what GetEqual does will complement “Gay, Inc.” doing what “Gay, Inc.” does. Direct action, lobbying, grassroots organizing and other tactics can all move us forward, but not every group needs to do everything that every other group is doing.

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