Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How the Democrats Protect the Bigots Among Them

Petrelis Files
Victory Fund/Bilerico Hide Names of Anti-Baldwin Democrats

A recent essay at the Bilerico site written by Chuck Wolfe, the executive director of the Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to helping primarily gay Democrats become elected officeholders, shows how this Gay Inc organization protects bigots in the Democratic Party. Wolfe wrote:

Old boy network politics hasn't changed much in Washington, a town famous for trading in secrets and rumors. So when I hear that some straight white males in the Democratic Party are calling around to recruit a Wisconsin candidate that looks a little more like them, it's clear they're still willing to cast aside even compelling leaders like [U.S. Rep. Tammy] Baldwin - all because they don't match up with some calcified version of the perfect candidate. If the old boy network gets its way, they'll steer resources toward a candidate who won't offend, but who'll be far less likely to fight. ...

So much for standing up to bigots. Notice that Wolfe omits the names of the straight while men trying to find one of their own to compete with Baldwin. If it's so terrible what these men are doing, it's not enough to write a column for Bilerico about it and fail to identify the bigots. In not naming and shaming them, Wolfe protects the bigots he deplores.

Also protecting the Democratic old straight white boy network is Bilerico's editor and co-founder Bil Browning. Why did he allow Wolfe's essay to appear on his site without it containing the names of the bad Democrats not lining up behind Baldwin?

The answer may be that he's never been one to strike hard at Democrats, or perhaps it has to with his longtime partner and Bilerico co-founder Jerame Davis is on staff at, surprise!, the Stonewall Democrats.

No doubt, there is a straight old boy network within the Democratic Party that does not fully embrace gay candidates. However, there's also a gay young boy network in DC that includes the likes of Wolfe, Browning and Davis.

The last thing on their agenda is holding the Democrats accountable and publicly shaming the national party when it works against the nascent candidacy of a viable lesbian candidate for U.S. Senate.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forget Dan Savage. Here's how queer youth made it better in the 70s.

"We used to have this thing where many of the gay people would organize, and do strikes, and sit-ins, and shit like that, refuse to do any work, you know. I remember this very good friend of mine, we used to call him Didi, he tied a sheet around his neck. There was this guard, he was giving us an awful lot of trouble, his name was Ivy, Big Ivy, who used to really give us a lot of hell, you know, beat us up and shit like this, and this was a grown-ass man, and we were like fourteen or fifteen years old, you know. What happened was we had planned to get him, you know. First we tried getting him fired by telling lies and saying he was forcing us into homosexual behavior with him, you know, all kinds of shit. And then we couldn't get him fired because he had been there for so long that everybody just wouldn't believe it. So what we did was Didi tied a sheet around his neck, and tied it up to the barred windows, and was standing on top of his bed. So I walked up to the door and started screaming, "Guard, come here! Somebody's trying to hang themselves!" So he ran up to the door and when he opened the door I pushed him in and about like seven or eight gay people ran in and threw a blanket over his head and almost beat him to death and left him there, you know. We used to do shit like that. We were doing more shit in that institution. Anything that went on, we were in it. I remember this straight brother who was very close to a lot of us, he always defended us and stuff like this, he was taken to the hole and they broke both of his arms and both of his legs before they got him there."

“Out of the Closets:  Voices of Gay Liberation”, pp. 104-5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ERW could take a hint from the SF LGBT Community Center: Secret, Closed Door Meetings are BULLSHIT

Just this week, the Democratic Party front group called Equal Rights Washington endorsed professional politician Jay Inslee for Governor without any input from the actual real live queer people in Washington.  Who elected ERW to speak on behalf of Washington's thousands of queers?  And why would they rush to endorse him behind closed doors and with no accountability to the very queer people they claim to represent?  In addition, they've invited the local queer community to come and hear about their new strategy for winning marriage equality in Washington...  for a price.  You see, you don't get to give your two cents and if you want to know how they're going to "win" marriage equality, you have to pay cash at their fundraiser tomorrow night. 

ERW could learn a lesson from the SF LGBT Community Center.  Here's a report from Michael Petrelis on their latest meeting.

Petrelis Files
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Transparency Reigns at SF LGBT Center Board Meeting

Every gay community organization could learn some valuable lessons from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center board, in how to deliver transparency and democratically engage gay people.

This past Monday, the board met at the center and it was open to the public, a fact the center is doing more to promote. I went to the meeting expecting to stay only ten or fifteen minutes, and speak during the first public comment time on the agenda. From the moment I walked in, there was a genuine friendly and welcoming vibe from lots of folks.

Part of the reason for that welcome was because some members thought I was a potential board member, come to check them out. I assured them I was present for sunshine purposes!

The cochairs had a thick packet of papers to give everyone, that included the evening's agenda, last board meeting's minutes, resolutions to consider regarding government grants, details about the center's economic, programmatic and facilities plans and budgets containing figures, and statements of financial activities and the over all budget.

After members introduced themselves, the floor was turned over to me, the lone member of the public, for three-minutes of comment. I thanked the board for being a shining example of healthy and beautiful gay sunshine, said their transparency was in stark contrast to the closed-door board approach at the NYC and Los Angeles centers, GLAAD, HRC and Equality California.

Spent a few moments on GLAAD's meltdown over the AT&T merger and how it was a group that desperately needed to disclose of its contracts with sponsors, and the man who is on the center and the GLAAD boards avoided eye contact with me. Rebecca Rolfe, the executive director, was singled out for always answering my questions and in a timely manner.

I wrapped up asking them to take extra steps with transparency and post their agendas and minutes on their site.

They spent the next forty-minutes hearing presentations from staffers, asking good questions about their goals and which segments of the community would be served, and I listened to the discussion. It was a good way to learn more about the center, the people who run it and their work.

Yesterday, Rebecca sent me a follow up note, part of which said:

Thanks for your comments last night – FYI, the board is going to take up the issue of posting agendas and minutes on our website, so I will let you know the outcome.

Let's laud the center's board for already having an open board meeting policy in place and looking at how to expand it.

I hope gay sunshine advocates everywhere ask their local groups and all national non-profits about public participation at the board level, and use the SF center's board's fabulous example as something to emulate.