Get Equal, the feisty, newly established gay rights group, has been shaking things up and making headlines for the past several weeks now, and a new feature story in The Advocate is one more example.
Titled “The Rise of GetEqual,” Advocate staffers Andrew Harmon and Kerry Eleveld write a wonderfully detailed piece about how grassroots gay rights activists Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — both of whom live in California — have created a new, rising force in the gay rights movement.
Get Equal recently shouted down President Barack Obama for failing to act more quickly on repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Obama uncharacteristically lost his cool during the encounter.
Some people such as Congressman Barney Frank, who's openly gay, aren't too thrilled with Get Equal's tactics — he describes them as “immature” and “tacky” in the Advocate story.
Which isn't surprising.
Frank, after all, is a Washington D.C. politician who described last year's March on Washington as a “waste of time at best.”
But Get Equal's grassroots credentials and unconventional activism reminds us of a quote from
longtime gay rights veteran Ivy Bottini, who was featured in L.A.
“I'm a firm believer that you cannot advance a movement as quickly and
effectively if you don't have a grassroots movement,” Bottini told the Weekly. “I'm
convinced that's why we lost Prop. 8. We
had no gay people out there in the campaign. We were in the closet. And
I'm concerned because I see more gay institutions running the movement
as if it's a corporation.”
Bottini has been fighting on the front lines of social justice for more than 40 years, so she knows what she's talking about. And Get Equal, it appears to us, is filling a void that Bottini has been very concerned about.
But Get Equal has felt a backlash within the gay rights movement, which the Advocate reports about. That, unfortunately, doesn't surprise us either.
If Bottini is correct about the current state of gay institutions — and we have no reason to think she's wrong — a hard-charging, grassroots group that can “quickly and effectively” advance the rights of the gay community will probably make Gay Inc. feel uneasy.
It doesn't have to be that way, and we hope those national groups will have some foresight and somehow collaborate with Get Equal, but Gay Inc. has shown over the past few years that anything that challenges their corporate, go-slow ways will be taken as some kind of threat.
No wonder power gays such as Barney Frank and others are annoyed — Get Equal is no longer allowing him or anyone else of his ilk to easily squirm off the hook.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com.