Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brody's Notes... Outrage & Debate Over HRC Lease Of Milk Shop Site Grows

Dustin Lance Black  Photo By The Hollywood Reporter
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) DEC 8 | As reported yesterday, the decision by the Washington DC based Human Rights Campaign to lease the site of former slain San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk's camera shop, where Milk ran his political campaigns as well as his ad hoc LGBT community activist group, has come under serious fire by Gay Rights activists unhappy with HRC.
Joining the growing chorus of dissent is Academy Award winning screenplay writer Dustin Lance Black, who in association with the Log Cabin Republicans, released this statement:
"Harvey Milk spent the last years of his life fighting not only for rights for gays and lesbians across the nation, but also against the idea that the only way to achieve those rights is to lobby the government and financially support so-called 'straight allies'. Harvey believed the best way to secure our rights was through grassroots action, coalition building and the election of LGBT people to office at all levels of government. He encouraged people to come out of the closet and be vocal about who they were and why they deserved full equality, not partial equality or crumbs. For the HRC leadership, which still advocates a piecemeal, wait-and-see approach to try and co-opt and profit from Harvey's legacy is an outrage."
Black's denouncement of the HRC aquistion of 575 Castro Street was met with an immediate reaction from respected acticvist and head of Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen who said:
"Before I hear the Log Cabin Republicans whine about HRC, I want to see these Uncle Marys pave the way by making the Republican Party more friendly towards LGBT Equality. When Log Cabin recruits and puts forth viable candidates that can actually be endorsed, we can begin an honest discussion. Until then, they are just blowing smoke where the sun don’t shine. As for Black, he ought to pick his fights and friends more carefully. Right now he is a hero. I would hate to see his moral authority erode by getting bogged down in community infighting when he ought to keep his eye on the ball by battling our real enemies — most of whom happen to be Republicans."
Another activist stated that :
"He [ Black ] is right about Milk's strategy being the way to go. Almost every civil rights victory for LGBT Americans has taken place in state legislatures and city halls across the country. What upsets me more than HRC's moving into Milk's former camera store is when groups like HRC (and recently EQCA) try to take credit for all of the hard work that has been done by LGBT leaders at the state and local level.
They issue statements like "since our founding, civil rights for LGBT people have improved dramatically" and insinuate that the very existence of their organization is the sole reason for the changes that have taken place. There are hundreds of LGBT Americans who have worked hard to get elected and to get important legislation passed in their states, counties and cities.
From what I have seen, the Log Cabin Republicans are of the same ilk. They are willing to take credit for court victories and ignore the real people who stepped up to be complainants. We must always keep in mind that those who are brave enough to run for office as an open LGBT candidate face the possibility of sharing Harvey Milk's fate. There are those who hate us enough to assassinate our leaders. Death threats, vandalism and intimidation is something that every LGBT politician experiences."
In  disagreement, contrasting those who are opposed to the HRC takeover of the storefront, another flatly said:
"HRC is the only national voice we have at the moment. Members of Congress, who are at all receptive to the arguments of the LGBT movement listen to HRC, anti-HRC statements serve only to empower our enemies.
There's room for improvement, certainly -- but let's all stop this childish infighting.
BOTH sides in this are right—and wrong. Could that mean that there's a far more complicated path to equality than either side will admit or embrace? Yep.
I wish they'd ALL grow up, stop fighting each other, and use their obvious and varied strengths, abilities and talents to pursue a multi-level, multi-strategy and UNIFIED campaign to win full equality. But that means hard work and checking egos at the door. It's far too easy to issue a bitchy statement or web posting, or to tear down the folks ON OUR SIDE that they don't like instead of working with them to lift us all up.
Meanwhile, our enemies continue to defeat us and laugh at how easy we make it for them."