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Making Progressive Allies

16 Nov

How many times have you heard “We need to make allies in the broader progressive movement” come out of an LGBT activist’s mouth? Well I’ll say it again. Its true. We do need to build stronger ties to other social movements in order to help us identify new pockets of supporters and to link our issues to the broad campaign against injustice everywhere.  Pooling resources, sharing ideas, and trading tips strengthens both the fight for LGBT equality and the progressive movement as a whole.

The New Organizing Institute has created an opportunity for us to do just that.  RootsCamp is an incredible chance for LGBT leaders to meet other progressive organizers and make the connections we need.  The NOI team calls it the “unconference” because we get to set the agenda, drive the conversation, and skip the boring powerpoints.

Details:

What:  RootsCamp – 5th Anniversary

When:  December 11-12

Where: George Washington University, Washington DC

Who: Volunteers, field staff, new media gurus, data geeks, state-based bloggers, campaign managers – anyone and everyone who played a part in the 2010 cycle, with civic engagement campaigns or as a part of issue groups.

RSVP here: http://rootscampdc.eventbrite.com/

Jamie and I will be attending, representing TAE, and sharing what we have learned from all of you.  You should probably join us.

NY Senator Tom Duane Arrested in AIDS Protest

9 Nov

Senator Tom Duane Arrested Today at City Hall. Photo:Cindy Rodriguez

Earlier today, NY State Senator Thomas Duane joined the heads of several HIV/AIDS Organizations in an act of civil disobedience which wound up with Duane and others getting arrested.

The action was in protest of a bill that was vetoed earlier this year by Governor David Paterson. The bill would insure that people living with HIV/AIDS wouldn’t be required to spend more than 30% of their income on their rent. The bill would effect 10,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. According to WNYC:

“Gerald Deyounge from Brooklyn is one of them. He attended Tuesday’s protest and says he’s about to be evicted from his current apartment because he can’t afford his rent. Deyounge says he lives off a disability payment of just over $1,000 a month and about $700 of that goes to housing. Deyounge says right now his life is stable, but he’s not sure where he’ll go if he loses his apartment.”

Openly gay and openly HIV+ Duane has long been an outspoken advocate for our community and has fought tooth and nail for marriage equality in New York. If you don’t know who he is, please give this video a watch. he is easily one of our most passionate elected officials we have. Thanks Senator, for everything you are.

Oprah and AIDS circa 1987

25 Oct

In 1987, Oprah Winfrey decided to do a special episode and town hall-style discussion about HIV/AIDS and the people who were living it. She visited Williamson, West Virginia where Mike Sisco – a gay man living with AIDS took a swim in a public swimming pool. In the following days, there was an uproar from the community and the pool was closed down for fear that it was contaminated.

The startling thing about this video and the flashback to 1987 is not people’s ignorance about how HIV/AIDS is spread. In the early days, so much was unknown and to this day, there are many people in this country who still feel that it can be spread through touching or being in the same vicinity as someone who is living with it. The most disturbing part of this video is people’s ability to say the most hateful things to someone’s face. The hatred that one man spews (around 5:50 in the video) is beyond upsetting. I actually remember watching this very episode when I was 13 years old – and not yet really knowing who I was, I still had the same reaction – how could someone be so angry and so hateful to another person?

A lot has changed since then, and people like the man who is screaming his hatred are now seen as extremists. But don’t think for a moment that people like him don’t still exist in every part of our society. The only thing that has changed between then and now is that we have spoken up about who we are, we’ve educated our families and friends and we have worked to end ignorance around living as LGBT people and living with HIV/AIDS. Things are changing quickly now, and so long as we continue telling our stories – we’ll have our rights before too long.