One of the most maddening and disillusioning aspects of our civil rights movement is infighting. Face it folks, there is a vocal minority of our community that is downright cannibalistic. If you come up with a new idea, try a new message, or take a leadership role in LGBT equality inevitably someone will come out of the woodwork to critique or even quash your efforts.
For a perfect example there is a great piece by Zack Rosen over at The Advocate:
The word activism carries some terrifying connotations when, really, there should be no barriers to entry for those who are interested in doing something constructive. Especially not from within the community. I’m dreading the day when some 16-year-old will put up a donation box at his suburban supermarket and get criticized for collecting money for the wrong factions, the wrong identities, the wrong causes. For having the wrong intentions, for not having enough life experience to know he’s wrong.
Activism is a personal decision to go out in the world and do anything to make it more positive. If it must pass some nebulous consensus vote, weather criticism and a stinging paucity of community support, how is anyone going to work up the courage to try?
Activism, as defined by certain activists, is quickly becoming an members-only club. It’s time to open the doors and let in the public. Work with the incredible breadth of skill sets and interests possessed by the individual members of our community and — I shouldn’t even have to say this — embrace our differences.
We here at TAE have first hand experience with this kind of criticism and infighting, which Zack knows all too well:
In Washington, D.C., this past summer a group of individuals organized “The Big Commit,” a counterprotest to the nearby National Organization for Marriage hatefest that rolled through town the same day. They brought in members of D.C.’s religious, musical, artistic and organizing communities to make a strong statement for gay rights. What did they get in return? They got their own counterprotest!
Yet another group of change-minded queers disrupted the said “Big Commit” with their own banner and message. The change that the Big Commit folks were striving to create, their message, got so tripped up in another’s ego and vitriol that effort was spent infighting when it could have been used to undermine an actual hate group.
Kudos to Zack for his willingness to tackle a difficult topic.