Saturday, July 2, 2011

We've Come A Long Way Baby

... and in a remarkably short period of time.

Former head of the LGTF, Matt Foreman points out just how much progress we've made in barely 10 years in a splendid essay published on Huff Post.

He points out that what makes these achievements doubly remarkable is that by all the logic of power, our enemies should be burying us now.
What makes this ongoing progress even more remarkable is that the LGBT-rights movement has been outnumbered and outfunded at virtually every turn and in every arena, even in comparison to other progressive movements. Opponents of LGBT rights operate hundreds of radio stations, they run huge (and hugely influential) national advocacy organizations, and they are enmeshed in enormous faith communities and able to deliver their anti-equality message to millions every weekend.

While opponents of LGBT rights have at least eight national advocacy organizations with budgets of more than $10 million, the LGBT movement has just one. In fact, the annual budget of just one of the biggest opponents of LGBT rights, Focus on the Family/CitizenLink, is greater than the budgets of the 39 largest LGBT advocacy, legal and research organizations, combined.

I would also add that our enemies have the backing of one of the two political parties and its bottomless corporate funds, together with that powerful ideological megaphone called Fox News.

So what accounts for this unexpected and tremendous success by gay folk? Foreman is quite clear about that.
There are a lot of related factors. For example, more LGBT people are coming out and more non-LGBT people are getting to know them and are themselves becoming advocates for equal rights. There is also the influence of popular culture and celebrities, the high profile of LGBT issues in the media, and the vibrant presence of LGBT bloggers in social media.

But the legal and policy advances of the last decade did not spring miraculously from the results of a public opinion poll or a single heartfelt, pro-gay acceptance speech at the Oscars. Instead, they happened because LGBT organizations made them happen. Whether working for high-profile victories such as the marriage equality win in New York last week or defending an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance from being overturned by voters in Bowling Green, Ohio, these organizations provide focus, deploy volunteers, organize phone banks, and wrangle allies.

As I've always said, the gay movement is not a leader focused movement. Everyone who comes out is a leader with a little community of friends, family, and colleagues around them, and with a lot of others still in the closet behind them. The individual strength, courage, and initiative of its constituents and allies is the strength of our movement. All of those individual stories in all of their infinite variety add up to a big tidal change in history. We're entitled to enjoy our victories and to take courage from them for the struggles ahead.

As the Romans said, Gutta Cavat Lapidam, "Dripping water hollows stone."

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