One Nation and Several Missed Opportunities

2 Oct

We’ve just come from the One Nation Working Together march at the National Mall.  It was inspiring to see such a diverse crowd and the atmosphere was hopeful and friendly.

But there was something missing:  The LGBT community.

Apparently One Nation doesn’t include our stories, our lives, or the policies that affect our community most dramatically.  While we agree the lack of equal opportunities in employment and education is clearly a systematic problem across the board, these are issues that also acutely affect the LGBT community.  And yet no mention of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act in promotional materials for the march, little to no representation of or from the LGBT community, and no leaders of our movement spoke- from what we saw.

What gives?  The list of endorsers has several local and national gay and lesbian organizations and a lot of resources for the planning of the march came from our community.   Clearly the opportunity to discuss the issue and to have representation in the rally was there.  Both the planners of the march and our community itself failed to answer the call.

Even the LGBT table at the organizational outreach section was abandoned when we arrived:

We did see a few individuals and groups at the march, which you can see below.  The people we met were upbeat and proud.  But with so many issues and organizations present the spotlight went to the loudest and proudest groups, which was not us.

We had a great chance to make some allies in the progressive movement, demonstrate our commonality, and broaden the discussion of our place at the table.  Instead, we skipped the party altogether.

All photos by Jamie McGonnigal & Sean Carlson, (c)


3 Responses to “One Nation and Several Missed Opportunities”

  1. eugene October 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Hi Jamie, it’s Eugene. I’m so glad you went and attended! It is very important for active members of our community to attend anything and everything we can to get familiar and introduced to other like-minded groups.

    To address your (very important) question about the lack of LGBT visibility… I can only speak from MY OWN experience.

    1. OneNation was hardly known about within the LGBT circle. Honestly, if you ask some of the most politically and socially aware gays in NYC, many of them would not have known the event took place or that LGBT members were invited to the table.

    2. This may be because there was little to no advertisement or out-reach to the LGBT community from NAACP or the major gay media outlets. I did not see it mentioned on any of the gay blogs or newsletters (of which I steeply follow)

    3. While there is no major finger of blame, I am curious why NAACP only reached out to the LGBT constituents a week before the march (ie: Withers at the NYC Center last week). By this time, I’m sure most of the flyering, pamphlets and signage for the event had already “hit the presses” so to speak, and any gay groups that wanted to get on-board or have their name bigger, more present, missed the window.

    4. Due to the lack of awareness of the event within our community, there was a lack of mobilization. Only a few free buses were provided to gays who wanted to go from NYC to DC. And anyone else who wanted to attend had to find their own way (and for many of us, even though we are passionate, getting to DC at the drop of the hat or with only 1-week to prepare, can be stressful).

    5. And finally, and perhaps the most controversial to bring-up: This event wasn’t “gay enough” for me. Say what you will about how important it is for LGBT folks to attend these events, no matter what (you’re right)… I still did not feel compelled to attend because OneNation seemed to be focused mostly on JOBS. And while ENDA definitely fits on that bill, it’s a minor talking point for NAACP and many other non-gay activists. We have a VERY BIG ALLY in NAACP. But I want to feel like “they’ve got our back” more than just an endorsement here and a positive press-release there. Again, only speaking for myself, there are a few more important things in the Gay Community that I have been feeling more passionate about (namely the gay suicides and bullying) than to muster the strength/go-to attitude to attend this weekend.

    In solidarity,

  2. Peter October 3, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    I watched most of the event on CSPAN. Off the top of my head I remember seeing one gay speaker and one lesbian speaker. The gay speaker was a Latino college student who spoke on behalf of Latinos, but he also mentioned that he was gay. The lesbian speaker spoke with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, but I forget about exactly what (I think a variety of issues). There were also other speakers who mentioned the LGBT community.

  3. אביב טור-פז October 3, 2010 at 10:04 am #


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