"Gay people generally aren't the placard-waving, bomb-throwing, chaps-wearing, communion wafer-stomping radicals we're made out to be... Most gays and lesbians are content to be left to alone; many gays and lesbians go out of their way to ignore political threats and political activism and political activists. Only when gays and lesbians are attacked—only after the fact—do gays and lesbians take to the streets."scott eckern, artistic director at california musical theater, donated $1000 to the pro-prop 8 camp, came under fire from high profile theatre-folks like marc shaiman (composer, hairspray) susan eagan (actress) and others, and ended up resigning from his post. this was met with cheers from some in the community, but not all. kel munger, theatre critic for the sacramento news and review writes:
"Forcing Eckern out of a career he loves—and has been exceptionally good at—only hurts the movement for equality. It also hurts the artists—gay and straight—who have benefited and would have continued to benefit from Eckern‘s talent and expertise. It hurts the community—gay and straight—for whom musical theater is a place where many cultures meet (usually with a lot of laughter, a few tears, and some dancing)."from the tuesdays comment section, laurin points out that on a practical level, progressives (including the gay community) need a more effective campaign model:
"Progressives have to figure out how to run more effective issue campaigns... There's obviously not an easy answer -- as these fights have been fought all over the country for a decade and there's only been one successful one -- but there's an inherent problem in not having a more streamlined, accountable campaign model, and that needs to be figured out."for now we've moved on to a more raw, emotional form of expression: marches, rallies, and protests. protests around california have been civil (despite some missed fed-ex deliveries and an injured policeman) but highly visible. a protest in new york city this week was 3000+ strong.
the mormon church, who funneled tens of thousands of dollars into a pro-prop 8 campaign in california (including it's own "blacklist" – "The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published" they warned in fundraising letters) has been the focal point for much of the protest ire. but others, including individuals like eckern, have also been targeted.
and there's more to come: this saturday is a national day of protest with rallies and marches being planned in cities all across the country. the website join the impact lists information on protests in cities like fairbanks, alaska, charleson, west virginia, milwaukee, wisconsin, nashville, tennessee, orlando, florida, and hundreds more.
i think it's important in this struggle to be vocal and open, and to educate. the more discussion and dialogue among family members and friends the better. and these displays of unity among our community are vital. we are not going away, this is not about your faith or your religion. my relationship, my possible marriage, in no way threatens yours. i don't want to be married in your church, i'm not fighting for the right to be married in your church, and more than likely i don't even want to come to your church, thank you.
but i'm also reminded of my own personal struggle to come out to a mother who was used to seeing television coverage of things like gay pride parades in san francisco, and anita bryant. "is that what you are?" was my mom's question. in her mind, i would soon be wearing a dress, or a leather vest with butt-less chaps, or a harness. or all three. okay, so she was right. that aside, i didn't need to scare her.
and in time, she came to love me even deeper, understand me, and fully support me and my relationship. she came to realize that i was born with these feelings, they weren't taught to me (like her religion had been taught to her.) she came to realize that i still left my wet towel on the bathroom floor, i still didn't enjoy vacuuming or dusting, and that my relationship with another man was just as normal (if not more so) than her relationship with my father. but it took some tough words from both of us, and some butted heads.
the gay community is not unfamiliar with protest, civil unrest and civil disobedience. the modern gay movement began in 1969 with the stonewall riots. in 1987, larry kramer started act up in response to what he felt was the gay men's health crisis inability to fight the necessary political fight to end aids and aids discrimination. we would not be where we are today were it not for the grit and determination of the people who fought those fights and others (and continue to.)
blacklists, however, only fuel hate. hate vs. hate gets us nowhere. we're struggling for something based in love. hate should not be part of the equation.
as we in the gay community fight for the right to marry – a civil right we deserve – we should march, shout, yell, and do what we need to do (i'll be right there with you.) but let's keep in mind how we won the hearts and minds of our own families: through honesty, courage, perseverance, and example.
photos from the new york city march against prop 8, courtesy of andrew parkhurst.