Why I'm Marching
BY Michelangelo Signorile
August 24 2009 12:00 AM ET
COMMENTARY: The time is now for an LGBT march on Washington, and every one of us should be heading to D.C. for the National Equality March planned for October 10-11. Let me explain why, first by reviewing recent events. Then we'll look back a little in history.
Last June, amid growing criticism of President Obama's foot-dragging on LGBT rights and after the despicably homophobic Defense of Marriage Act brief, the White House hosted a cocktail party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. It was nice for us to see a president commemorating the Stonewall riots for the first time. But it was an even better event for Obama himself, a great photo op, in the midst of the outcry, showing gay people -- dubbed by the media as LGBT "leaders" -- applauding him.
Leaders? The crowd included an overwhelming number of Democratic Party hacks and donors, Beltway social climbers, careerists (specifically, former gay group heads now looking for jobs), PR flacks, lobbyists, sycophants, and assorted sellouts. The fabulously superficial -- including a fashion editor who sits front and center at every New York fashion show -- were there too. And everyone was enthralled by the event, clapping uproariously for the president. Many of those present had raised lots of money for Obama and for the Democratic Party-or gave generously themselves -- and probably worked for 20 years to see the day when they could have cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the White House, using the good china no less!
I say the crowd "included" these people because also present were hardworking chiefs of gay groups, a few of whom actually have made a difference. There were also people like Matthew Shepard's family -- his parents, Judy and Dennis, and his brother, Logan -- who've worked tirelessly on our behalf. And there were some legendary activists, such as Frank Kameny, who paved the way for us all.
But noticeably absent were people the White House sees as troublemakers and who, as a result, weren't invited to the event. These were people who worked for -- and raised money for -- candidate Obama but criticized the president in the weeks prior to the reception. I'd argue that there probably wouldn't have even been a cocktail party if it hadn't been for these people's protests. And, to that point, I'd add that the White House is pretty naive if it thinks a little East Room glad-handing is enough to quiet the masses of fed-up gay people. But I digress.