Lead or Follow, but Just Don’t Ask Me to Get Out of the Way
Patrick Range McDonald headlined his article on November 25 “Young Gays Take Reins From Elders on Prop 8.” It essentially talked about “gay leadership” and quoted John Duran as saying, “This is the day we pass the torch to the next generation.” Well, no, it wasn’t. This is the time when we, the old activists, welcome the younger generation to the streets. As a very old activist, I can say that I, and others like me, never left.
Not all of the “leadership” is attached to organizations or checkbook politics. In fact, do not make the mistake of assuming that someone who is an executive director of a gay organization or community center is necessarily a leader. Leaders have courage and vision, none of which was shown by the Los Angeles leadership of “No on 8.”
The downtown rally in Los Angeles may have been put on by young activists, but the stage was controlled by the Gay Community Service Center. That is why Lorri Jean gave a 29-minute speech, part of a two-and-a-half-hour rally, while people stood in the 90-degree heat and 1,000 marchers left before it began.
So, if you want to learn Protest 101, come to us. Don’t hold hands with the organization that lost Prop. 8 and think that you will not be co-opted.
To say to old activists “Get out of the way — we, youth, are taking over” is insulting. We, who have continued to organize and be on the streets for decades, welcome all of you. We have been trying to activate the generation between us for years. I came from the Harvey Milk generation, and prior to that the feminist movement, and prior to that the antiwar movement (Vietnam), and again in the past few years the antiwar movement (Iraq). We were on the streets all the time.
I called for and produced the stages for three national marches on Washington and have helped to organize more than 100 national protests, from stopdrlaura to the national celebrations when the Federal Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lawrence vs. Texas. Being on the streets is not new; it is just new to you.
So don’t ask me to hand over my torch and stand in the dark. I will light yours, so that we may carry on this struggle together, intergenerational allies. Just as we, the radical activists of past generations, would not accept homophobia, racism or sexism, neither will we accept ageism.
So, you took to the streets, where activists like me have been waiting for you. And no, we are not going away. The streets belong to all of us.
Robin Tyler and her wife, Diane Olson, were the first lesbian plaintiffs to file in the California Supreme Court same-sex-marriage case. This court not only granted equal marriage rights to same-sex couples but declared for the first time in American history that lesbians and gays are a suspect class, entitled to equal rights in California. On November 5, the morning Prop. 8 passed, Tyler and Olson filed a petition with the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. That morning, Tyler called for a fifth national LGBTQ march on Washington. Then, they took to the streets.
Marriage Equality USA's Los Angeles chapter is sponsoring a town hall meeting to discuss Prop. 8 on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2-4 p.m., at the West Hollywood Auditorium, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood.
Please tell [activist Joe] Townley he is standing on the shoulders and graves of thousands of elders who begged the young ’uns to help us grassroots activists.
Maybe the organizations are afraid of young competition for their jobs, but there are thousands of us who have been in the streets, on our computers, marching, writing, screaming for our rights since way before he was out of diapers. And if he has any sense he will call upon us for our expertise and ask us to be at his side.
I say this lovingly at age 74, along with my lover of 33 years.
Comment by Ruthie from West Palm Beach, Nov. 29
Working Against Scale
I loved Steven Leigh Morris’ review of Spring Awakening [Theater Reviews, Nov. 21–26] for including the spatial considerations of theatrical productions installed in too large a space.
When I saw Doubt at the Ahmanson Theatre and all I brought was a pair of binoculars, I realized I needed a portable Hubble telescope. I felt like I was Harry Lime on the Ferris wheel in Vienna and the performers were ants, just waiting to be squashed.
Thanks for discussing something too few critics are brave enough to mention.
Comment by Leonard from Studio City, Nov. 26
I’m quite amazed that even as a Korean, I learn more about Korean food from [food writer] Jonathan Gold than anyone else [“Supersuckers: Masan’s Tenacious Tentacles and Fiery Monkfish,” Nov. 27-Dec. 4]. If Korea had one of those Chevalier awards that France gave to Jeffrey Steingarten, they should give it to you for furthering the knowledge and depth of Korean cuisine among Angelenos and American diners.
Comment by mattatouille from L.A., Dec. 1.
I have frequently visited Masan, and I am pretty impressed, as I believe you’re the first professional who has addressed such diverse, “ethnic” hidden spots known only to the locals and those who know what to look for.
Comment by James Nam, Dec. 2
As a native New Yorker, I have to tell ya … it’s the Reuben at Brent’s in Northridge that does it for me [“Sandwich Regeneration,” Ask Mr. Gold, Nov. 28-Dec. 4]. It’s unbelievable … and like any good N.Y. Reuben, it requires that half be taken home. I also highly recommend their “new” pickles. YUM!!! (P.S.: Yes, I have eaten at Art’s. It is good … but not as good as Brent’s.)
Comment by Lizanne, Nov. 26
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