Part 2: New Way of Activism

I have put off posting my new paradigm of activism for one more day because 100% of the people that either commented on yesterday’s post or emailed me about it disagreed with what I had to say (my wife and my dad both included in that group). A 100% disagreement has never happened—not that it’s a bad thing—because as always, I’m completely open to reassessing my stance. Conscientious seems to be the following overviews:

1. Marches/Protests/etc are worthwhile to bring cultural awareness to the topic/injustice

2. When done with passion, in congruence with other mediums, they can still be an effective step to influence change

3. Intent is the key—sincerity and sustainability trump publicity

I think those are all extremely valid points, so much so that I might even be reconsidering my stance. However the four pieces that still leave me reeling in why I don’t wholeheartedly feel secure in switching my position are:

1. The current structure of marches/protests does not align with the aforementioned three extremely productive and noble intentions and applications. If those three above were all realistically true, I would have absolutely no problem whatsoever. In fact, I’d be the first person out there! But that is just not how it works today. I’m looking at today’s systemic structure and applications, not their best-case scenario.

2. If everyone thinks marches/protests are so worthwhile, how come they hardly ever influence direct change? Even with the four added suggestions in the comment section yesterday, that still brings the world-wide total to a whopping seven directly successful times in the past 600 years. I am not saying this in a snarky way, I’m just legitimately asking the question out of curiosity. Maybe for me, I’m concentrating so heavily on the trees that I’m missing the forest?

3. I was talking last night to a really good friend who is gay and works for one of the 4 major PR firms in the world. He told me how surprised he was that from his gay friends (in the mainstream, not associated with his firm or the planning of the march) across the country none of them even knew there was a march, nor did they know what it was for. This once again proves my point—if the march/protest was so important or made any impact, don’t you think mainstream GLBT people who want more than anything to have (a) Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (b) Defense Of Marriage Act and (c) the hate crimes bill all go in their favor, would want to march, or at least care enough to know about it? Especially in light of the fact that this march (whose three major goals were exactly a, b and c) was intended to be the biggest, most influential GLBT march ever. Shouldn’t it have succeeded in bringing big headlines and challenges to the government if culture deemed that medium worthwhile and the majority was on board? Wouldn’t media have then been all over it instead of the non-existent coverage it got—prompting the original post challenging the effectiveness of marches/current activism in the fist place?

4. I wonder about the planning committee of this march. Why did they plan what was supposed to be their largest most influential march ever, on a Sunday; a Sunday before a national holiday (Columbus Day), in which NONE of the government would be working or most likely not even in town during that day, or that extended weekend? How can you challenge the greatest issues in that community today to someone or something when they’re not even around? And if that is the case, who is actually going to care about it when it’s only one side talking to no one? Not the government. Not the media. It makes me wonder what in the world they were thinking—and what were they trying to get out of this other than trying to be a single day media grabber, which ended up not working anyway. Once again proves one of my points from yesterday—a few hours of activism don’t lend themselves to any amount of sustainability or credibility.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the Three Overviews that I could actually get involved with, and the Four Questions that still remain.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://coffeewithchris.com Chris S.

    I would have broker that 100% stat if I would have commented :-) I think that truly effective activism is much more subversive than a mere march/protest. With that said, a march or protest MAY be a legit part of a movement that pushes toward real change (think about the South in the 50's.)

    I just don't see Jesus leading marches on Washington or any other city for that matter. Let's worry about affecting change in the relationships around us before we worry about shouting and waving signs at "The Man."

  • Mrs T

    Oct. 11 is national "Coming Out Day." (Oct. is also Gay History Month.) The president spoke to a group the night before, so the gov't. knew about the march and surely had a 'bean counter' out there getting the info!

    I read the lcoal 'gay press.' There was plenty of coverage before this march. Some felt the timing was bad, but since it was already planned, it was to go on & folks were encouraged to participate. ….and they did!!

    Ask Cleve Jones what he thinks, rather check his web sites, which I haven't yet. He was one of the main folks in planning this….

    If I were gay, I would think this march was somewhat successful. One never knows right away. Making changes is not contingent on one or a few events. It represents lots of hard work.

    I'm looking forward to tomorrow's entry! So many of us love your work & appreciate you!!!!

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    One of the simple answers (possibly) as to why the march was not a bigger thing is that there is a disconnect somewhere in the gay establishment. It could be something as simple as poor PR, which happens all the time.

    From where I sit, there are a number of disconnects in gaydom. Men and women are at odds with one another (why do we see some saying GLBT and others saying LGBT?), and there is discord over whether to tout gays' differences or sameness, conformity or rebellion. The poster children are not all on the same page. It is confusing to the media, I think. Just my 2 cents.

  • Kevin M

    I agreed mostly with your first post as well. Certainly the things that others brought up are true, but I do not see current marches or protests portraying those things. I view current marches or protests etc. as something that unifies a group of people who are participating in that particular thing, but driving a further wedge into the relations with those not participating.

    Some forms of current activism can indeed be productive, but I don't see it very often.

  • Jon Trouten

    I guess I would question how much of a failure last weekend was. If I'm not mistaken, it was largest GLBT protest since the 1993 March of Washington. It was all over CSPAN this weekend. Most GLBT blogs have been posting about it for some time. And it's really kind of early to see if it was a total fail. I mean, Obama re-stated his (passive) commitment towards gay people and Leiberman is suddenly being offered up as a major legislative leader to push for the repeal of DADT.

    As with anything, the message can get lost when you're dealing with thousands of participants. I mean the tea bag protests have gotten repeatedly slogged down by nonsense like the whole birther thing. Why would we expect that gay people or marches would be any different?

  • Jon Trouten

    Was there a problem with the post Prop-8 protests? I continue to ask people why they seem shocked that gay people were/are upset that their marital rights were literally stripped from them (narrowly) via a popular vote.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Jon, I and many others have no problem with the idea of a protest, itself. It's the unfortunate fact that many fringe hangers-on desperate to tout their messages (various Communist groups and a litany of weird anarchy-espousing groups and other anachronisms, along with an embarrassing assortment of sexual deviants) always show up at these things. And conservative bloggers love to home in on images of children watching them to create the idea that they are a significant part of "the gay movement." These images tend to stay in people's heads far after the images of respectable gays have gone out. It is what it is, whether we like it or not.

    For another view of this problem, look at what's going on right now with the Kevin Jennings -Harry Hay controversy.

  • Jon Trouten

    I agree. It is is terrible about how the right is trying to destroy Kevin Jennings's character, as well as their initial attempts to destroy Chai Feldblum's character.

    I mentioned it somewhere before that there are always wackos at these events. Including the tea-baggery/birther events. If someone had a problem with a particular protester, I'm sure there was a cop nearby to intervene.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    One more thought has occurred to me. Referred to a rather unique news/blog site earlier today by another blog I regularly visit, I was reminded in graphic photo-essay detail of the image problem generated by the rash of protests unleashed by the gay community during the California Pop. 8 brouhaha. That dust-up is not over, by the way, as it is still being hashed out in federal court.

    Is is possible that many folks from across the spectrum (straight-to-gay) still have a sour taste in their mouths from some of the ugly images of that episode from recent history? Could that have impacted the most recent march in D.C.?

    Andrew has pointed out the embarrassing elements from Christendom that show up at gay venues to protest with stupid signs and unChristian words. But there is little or nothing in society today that compares with the fringe, anarchist elements plying their messages at anything gay-themed. (And I know of no Christians who insist on protesting in the nude.) That imagery is a problem serious GLBT activists need to address, the same as the Church needs to deal with its hate and ignorance.

    Looking forward to what you have to suggest, Andrew.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    There will always be radical people on the fringes who will be protesting no matter what. I’m not concered about them in the least bit. I mean, if we’re talking about not having an impact, there is no one with less of an impact than tiny isolated groups of naked protestors or bull-horn shouters. It’s the large group assemblies that I’m trying to wrap my head around.

    Jon brings up a great point when he says “I continue to ask people why they seem shocked that gay people were/are upset that their marital rights were literally stripped from them (narrowly) via a popular vote.” It is something that is a key part of my new paradigm to be the next blog post.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Jon said, “I agree. It is is terrible about how the right is trying to destroy Kevin Jennings’s character, as well as their initial attempts to destroy Chai Feldblum’s character.

    Actually, folks don’t have to try very hard as both these individuals have taken an ax to their own trees. The public record is rife with some very damaging things both have said and written, and I have a good store of it from my own personal research. So I know of what I speak. Throw out the right-wing kooks, just as Andrew said we must do with the fringe gay-rights protesters. Focus on the substance and you will find much that is troubling.

    Andrew said, “Jon brings up a great point when he says “I continue to ask people why they seem shocked that gay people were/are upset that their marital rights were literally stripped from them (narrowly) via a popular vote.” It is something that is a key part of my new paradigm to be the next blog post.”

    Shocked? Isn’t that a bit of a non sequitur? It ought to have been entirely anticipated that gays would angrily protest the Prop 8 vote, given all we know was happening going into it. I wasn’t shocked at all. California may have, in fact, inadvertently touched off the string of pro-gay-marriage moves in New England and in Iowa. Don’t forget the California Supreme Court changed the state’s constitution unconstitutionally and the voters put it back. We can not like that all we want to, but it is democracy in action, as is the whole protest genre.

  • Jon Trouten

    Good on you, Debbie (re: Jennings and Feldblum). Outside of the gay activist-related accusations, I’ve read nothing the professionally disqualifies either of them from their appointments. I’ve seen lots of smear, most of which hasn’t stuck. Especially when it comes to Feldblum. I mean, your own extensive research keeps labeling Jennings as a “safe schools czar” when that’s not even his position (Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education), but it plays into the whole czar-label thing that’s been protested by the right. But it’s easier for right wing pundits and bloggers to repeatedly seek the outster of Feldblum as a gay activist and Jennings as a advocate of pedophilia, statutory rape, and murder as well as nothing more than a gay activist.

    Then again, why should I be surprised by the distortions and lies that are routinely asserted when it comes to gay people. I mean, just look at the Prop 8 campaign. Your kids will be taught about gay marriage against your will. Your church will be forced to perform gay weddings and preach only good things about gay people if marriage equality is legal or else you will be shut down and your pastor imprisoned. Scare, scare, scare and we’ll use those same lies over in Maine and in Iowa and anywhere else gay couples can marry and we’ll use those same lies in Washington and New Jersey and anywhere else gay couples can enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships despite the fact that Massachusettes has had marriage equality for half a decade without any of these lies actually materializing.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “I mean, your own extensive research keeps labeling Jennings as a “safe schools czar” when that’s not even his position (Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education).” I’ve called him both. Funny how you chose to pick up on exactly one word of my “extensive research.”

    “Outside of the gay activist-related accusations, I’ve read nothing that professionally disqualifies either of them from their appointments” — which means you have not availed yourself of what I have written.

    “Then again, why should I be surprised by the distortions and lies that are routinely asserted when it comes to gay people. I mean, just look at the Prop 8 campaign. Your kids will be taught about gay marriage against your will.”

    Actually, this one is not necessarily a distortion. Why would we not expect the NEA-driven public schools to refrain from reflecting in curriculum the increasing gay-marriage bent? California is an educational bellwether state, especially in all things gay-related. Jennings and GLSEN have been anything but secretive in pursuing this very thing. It’s a legitimate concern of parents, and is separate and distinct from what should be the concern of all of us over unfair discrimination against gays.

    This a very large topic which ought not be hijacking this particular discussion, but certainly is related, given it is focused on activism.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X