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You Are Here: Home » Featured, Opinions and Rants » GLAAD, What Else Are You Doing Other Than Selling T-Shirts? Same Question For You HRC

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The title is harsh but it is an honest question. Too often I feel that the LGBT community is nowhere near as united as it used to be or like it should be now. When we talk about the various issues within a community I feel that the problem starts with the most visible. The ones that are given a platform to be the voice of us and our concerns. In this case that would be both GLAAD and HRC. Still with all the issues I have with these organizations I know that they are successfully doing more than selling really cool shirts.

I’ll start off by saying that I feel these organizations are about more than selling shirts and having lavish parties with celebs. I love a great party just like the next gay. And they have done some great work with suicide prevention and made great efforts to end bullying. That work does help save lives and I am always thankful for any measure that saves live and look forward to seeing their techniques advance for the next generation of LGBT people.

But all my praise for these organizations stops there. Any other problems that affect our community are either met with endless delays, fall by the wayside or completely forgotten. Efforts only become about parties and advancing the rights of some members of this community instead of all members.  This train of thought entered my mind again tonight as I was about to do a quick summary about GLAAD teaming up with American Apparel and how this is a great step in giving this community visibility but I’m not too sure I feel that way about it now. I love the simplicity in the shirts and applaud the efforts made by American Apparel but GLAAD’s association with this leaves me with more questions than answers.

Not to be pessimistic but before reading the article my first thoughts were what exactly will GLAAD be doing with the proceeds? Are they donating it to a cause or is this purely for profit? Will they use transgendered men and women in their campaigns? Will all models be a size 28 with chiseled jaws and perfect abs? Kind of sad that those were the first questions that popped into my head when I read about GLAAD’s involvement. But it’s not like those thoughts and concerns aren’t coming from a history that has not been that favorable for them in terms of truly representing this community. Both organizations have done some questionable things in recent years.

I also began to think about how this upcoming week can be a huge week in advancing equality for our community and our society as a whole and if the Supreme Court rules in our favor we will be the closest to being truly recognized as citizens in this country in the eyes of the law.  We are on the cusp of great change within our society, regardless of what the decision the Supreme Court makes this week but somehow it does not feel like a united, uniformed effort. The time is now to work on the issues going on within this community that you and other pompous leader’s parade around saying you know diversity when you clearly don’t. The reason we are stronger as a community is because people are speaking out and standing up no matter what.

Just this year GLAAD named Brett Ratner Ally of the Year for doing a modicum of work. This is was only a year after he was in hot water for using gay slurs during a rehearsal. Think someone was probably more deserving than someone that threw some of his celebrity friends in a video to promote equality. Don’t get me wrong the efforts he made since his comments were admirable as it helped bring more recognition to this community but still not enough for an award many were more deserving of at the time.

It took GLAAD until this year to add transgendered men and women to their official mission statement. My only question is why did it take so long to do this? What possible explanation is there that provides a real authentic answer and not a bunch of red tape and colorful jargon to deter us from recognizing this exclusion.

My point is that one of the biggest problems with organizations like GLAAD and HRC is in how they choose to represent this community. There is little to no diversity in terms of race/ethnicity. Even less lesbian and bisexual representation. And virtually no representation of transgendered at all (unless they are again accused of discriminating against them by not allowing transgendered members in LGBT rallies like they were accused of during the Supreme Court DOMA/Prop 8 hearings). We are tired GLAAD (and HRC as well) of you saying that you are going to do more to show how diverse we truly are but you keep agreeing to ads like this which is the same, nearly monotone aka safe advertising and it has to stop. Is it that hard to have a team of people within your organizations that are willing to do actual research into the real issues of this community or am I and the other concerned members of this community talking to thin air?

I often think about the time of Harvey Milk and how I wish we were seeing the same passionate multifaceted approach of his generation but we are anything other than the successors of this great man. He truly stood for the differences among all of us and it often feels that these organizations don’t. Let’s not forget that in 1995 HRC were perfectly willing to exclude transgender men and women in order to have ENDA passed. So yes this community has a history of struggling to be united when fighting for equal rights. Some may argue that it is the past, but the past sets precedent and when no mass collective effort has been shown to include all members, how else are the rest of us supposed to feel?

Why is it that you and HRC are not working on a more visible campaign for ENDA (Employee Non Discrimination Act)? Why is it barely mentioned and only given a few paragraphs and the only time that you may bring it up is when there is an LGBT member. Why aren’t these organizations using their grand platform to speak to the community to reach out to Senate Democrats who keep stalling out on progressing ENDA through Congress? How much longer will we have to wait before we ensure LGBT members of this country have federal protections against discrimination instead of endless parties, fundraisers where it isn’t made clear where the money is going, and awards to undeserving people? Both groups said virtually nothing during the Immigration Reform Bill as well that excluded LGBT members from receiving the same benefits.

My words are harsh and blunt, but it’s what you need to hear. Maybe I am being so forward because I am waiting with as much anticipation about what this week could mean for us a community and it has me thinking of what else needs to be done that has not been done yet. I know both organizations have done some great work in promoting change and fighting for equality. But we need to do just as much work, if not more within the community. We need to work on these issues now and that starts with talking about them openly and honestly.

If you continually make members of this community who are not gay Caucasian males not feel welcomed or a part of this community then it’s reasonable to be at the very least frustrated with how these organizations operate. Whatever the decision is next week know that we all have so much more to do. We have to do more. So let’s start now.

About the author

Sly Merritt has written 383 articles on this blog.

Sly Merritt has a BA in psychology/sociology. MA in clinical psychology. He's a flip flop wearing hippy with a peaceloving mindset. Even pacifists like him know when it's time to do all we can for LGBTQ equality. Sly's views are all opinions not advice.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Janus says:

    As a member of the HRC, I too have frustrations over the pace of progress with some of the issues you’ve discussed, especially, at times, when the Gala Parties are touted, and then I ask the same questions. But then, I remember, that much of those funds go to support the incredible staff, lobbying legislators, both nationally and statewide, and for the many media campaigns for getting the LBGT message out, to name a few. another item, that I’d like to mention, is there are at least 6 non-caucasion staff personnel at the HRC, many who work tirelessly at reaching out to the non-caucasion and transgender communities, and they would be Shelena Williams, Kisha Webster, Rev. MacArthur Flourney, John Greene, Donna Payne, and Sultan Shakir.
    Finally, I’d like to say that I’ve seen Chad Griffin, Michael Cole-Schwartz,
    and Ty Cobb plenty of times in the last month on news programs discussing the challenges the community has, especially in regard to the upcoming SCOTUS cases.
    Yet the question remains, can more be done? Yes there can, and as individuals, we need to be out there, telling our stories and enlisting support where ever we can find it, whether we wear a t-shirt or not.

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