Steel City Stonewall Democrats are posting their candidate questionnaires. Be sure to check them out to see what your potential elected officials have to say about LGBT issues. I think most of the questionnaires should be up by the end of the day. The national Stonewall folks which host chapter sites are experiencing some technical difficulties.
Bilerico has a powerful post about the “birth” of the new civil rights paradigm with the emergence of LGBTQ activism second wave. (Links are active).
Civil disobedience has not been much of a tool of our movement lately. We're really concerned with maintaining our reputations, with not being confrontational. With being neat and clean and planned, planned, planned.
This action was messy and shocking and didn't get approval from “the powers that be,” but I think we're looking at a new era in our movement. A paradigm shift.
Careful hasn't been successful, and we've all seen that.
I doubt Pittsburgh will see this sort of activism anytime soon until the “neat and clean” gays are willing to meet the activists on their own turf. We are a very planned, careful community. I see a need for the folks who are careful to parse the “activism” out of advocacy to be a little less concerned about accessing power and more willing to take these kind of risks. I also see the need for bridges and for the activists to engage a little, too. You can't realistically create change if you aren't willing to sit down at the table once in awhile. That sort of myopic idealism creates tremendous power vaccums that are being filled by the same old, same old.
Lt. Dan Choi has crossed from being a symbol of the gay-powers-that be to an activist hero. He has already put his life on the line for every American, now he's put everything else on the line for every queer American.
How long, Pittsburgh, do we continue to plod along the careful route that has brought us what? Baby steps that make it a more palatable region for upper middle class white gays to get a meeting with political leaders? Elected Democrats who are terrified to support our civil rights? Gubnatorial candidates who don't believe we deserve full equality (or health insurance)? People who want our pink dollars but stay in the closet themselves?
I suggest we are going to continue to plod along for awhile. That's who we are. We may joke about it, but maybe we should embrace it.
Or maybe we need to consider exactly why Lt. Choi is a leader. He could have kept on the muckety muck tour circuit, testified before Congress and made the talk show rounds to keep up his upper middle class gay street cred. Instead, he did something pretty darn dramatic for a military man which may be the final nail in his career coffin. He led by example, not by words alone.
Can you name anyone in Pittsburgh willing to put themselves on the line like this to secure your benefits and rights? Anyone?