Another reason to scrape that blue equal sign sticker off your bumper

No to HRC
image from bloggy

This past weekend I drove in a friend’s car. While loading up the trunk, I noticed that there was a very faded, barely discernable Human Rights Campaign sticker on the bumper. I was quite amused, especially since, given my knowledge of her general politics, she probably likes the HRC about as much as I do. Which is to say, not at all. For folks who aren’t familiar with them, the HRC is, in a nutshell, an extremely mainstream, pandering, assimilationist LGB”T” organization that seems to work primarily for the rights of the most privileged, white picket fence (and just plain white) sort of queers. Well, not queers, seeing as “queer” is not their sort of word. They are decidedly lesbian, gay, bisexual I guess, and let’s throw in transgendered so that it looks like we care. In fact, their chosen acronym on their website is GLBT, not even LGBT. Clearly, they’re making no bones about who comes first in their hierarchy of gay importance! HRC does not serve the interests of me and many of my friends and many other folks who supposedly fall under their “GLBT” rubric. Last year at the big Pride march here in NYC, my friends and I hollered at them from the sidelines – “Racist, sexist, anti-trans, HRC, we’re not your fans!” We also squirted them with water guns. It was fun times, but it’s also unfortunate that one of the biggest, most established, resource-laden LGBT organizations has such skewed priorities.

They primarily focus on homo marriage to the exclusion of the many other issues that affect many queers on the daily. Now, I’m not an opponent of gay marriage, but I also don’t think it’s the most important issue facing the wider queer and trans communities, and I don’t think it’s going to be some amazing event makes life subtantially better and easier for most queers and trans folks. Of course, I think that the institution of marriage is pretty fucked and fairly discriminatory in terms of deciding which kinds of families are legitimate and deserve certain rights and protections and which are not, and that goes far beyond queer issues. I mean, if you’re not a traditional nuclear heterosexual family unit, you’re fairly screwed under this country’s current laws. So gay marriage, while it will have important benefits for many people, will still primarily benefit those people who want to work within that sort of two-parent rubric. Any other less conventional family formations and you’ll still be out of luck, and it seems rather unwise to push for something that will privilege and legitimize certain queer relationships and families while in turn continuing to delegitimize many others, queer and not queer.

So yes, anyhow, HRC pretty much sucks, and now they’ve evidenced it even more, as bloggy over at the Daily Gotham writes in an entry entitled “The Human Rights Campaign: dangerous to homos”. Apparently, the HRC has decided to endorse Joe Lieberman’s run for reelection as senator of Connecticut. I’m missing how he can be called pro-gay, given his stances and voting record on various issues. (Though, apparently, the “homosexuality is wrong” comment quoted by bloggy is in dispute, so I won’t comment either way on that – his record says enough, I’d say.)

The worst of it, though, is that the very narrow, single-issue focus that the HRC seems to have has pushed them to support Lieberman because, in the weird parallel universe in which the HRC seems to operate, Lieberman is somehow “pro-gay.” Does this perceived pro-gayness somehow counteract his continued pandering to the religious and war-mongering right? Does HRC really think that someone who doesn’t miss a chance to snuggle up to the GOP, as bloggy so amusingly put it, is going to hesitate before completely selling out all queers, from the ones who HRC really looks out for to the ones it purports to represent but doesn’t?

Who knows. Maybe the HRC just likes good ol’ Joe because he’s as much a panderer as they are – Liberman to the Right, the HRC to the straights.


p.s. I know I’m a bit behind on responding to comments, but I’ll be trying to catch up in the near future. Thanks to everyone who’s read and commented. Also, just as a note, I got my first truly out of control comments, the kind where someone doesn’t just diagree with you, but writes a lengthy rant that is largely composed of ad hominems. Apparently this person is really upset about my post on the West Point girlfriends website (which was really rather mild as far as my posts go, probably because the whole topic doesn’t matter much to me and was merely a source of mild amusement and intrigue).

They also seem to think that I am either a hipster, or like hipsters at all, and plan to force my children to be vegans. Uh… sure. (Just for the record, I am an inveterate carnivore, though I do make attempts at obtaining meat from humane sources when I can.) Anyhow, getting comments like that for the first time, I feel like I’ve graduated to some new level in blogging! I mean, I clearly can’t be doing my job well if people aren’t calling me names.

27 Responses to “Another reason to scrape that blue equal sign sticker off your bumper”

  1. 1 piny

    For folks who aren’t familiar with them, the HRC is, in a nutshell, an extremely mainstream, pandering, assimilationist LGB”T” organization that seems to work primarily for the rights of the most privileged, white picket fence (and just plain white) sort of queers. Well, not queers, seeing as “queer” is not their sort of word. They are decidedly lesbian, gay, bisexual I guess, and let’s throw in transgendered so that it looks like we care.


    Thank you so much. This made my day.

  2. 2 Jack

    Happy to be of service. 🙂

  3. 3 sometimesadream

    a gay friend’s rant about the HRC was where I first heard the word “heteronormative.”

  4. 4 Ethan

    Here’s a few more good reasons:

  5. 5 christina

    Learn to be tolerant of your peers. you might not agree but as america becomes more accepting of GLBT, you should too. First it was women, then it was african americans, then it will be the gay community that also get their rights. That equal stands for human rights, not straight or gay rights. We are all created equal.

  6. 6 Arturo

    It’s unfortunate that although there is some type of positive campaign, any campaign for that matter, that there are those who attempt to negate the importance of such a push. Although I respect and hear your opinion, I’m not sure that “ranting” about your personal cause is a method that is conducive toward uniting the GLB community. As it is, we are a minority, leaving no room for this type of division and separatist thought, in my opinion. This, to me, is the epitome of internalized homophobia and it is sad. I, as a fellow person of color am saddened to hear such negative thoughts and remarks about the human rights campaign.

  7. 7 Bq

    Arturo, your comment is so ignorant. If anything, you’re the one with a pet cause, since you seem hostile to the concept of intersectionality. “Internalized homophobia”? What part of this radical post can you pinpoint to support that “analysis”? Or do you simply feel so uncomfortable having a centrist organization you support challenged and therefore need to reassure yourself by turning to comfortingly simplistic conclusions?

  8. 8 Arturo


  9. 9 Arturo

    Im another Arturo not the one who wrote on Sep 23 @1:23 pm not to confuse with the first arturo’s blog thanks.

  10. 10 Jack

    @Arturo #2 – So, you want people to forget that the issues that most directly impact them are getting completely shunted to the wayside by HRC, and that they foolishly endorse candidates like Joe Lieberman, who may as well be a right wing Republican himself given how much he loves to kiss their asses? All in the name of us all fucking getting along? Yeah… OK. That’s how to fulfill Dr. King’s dream all right – by letting HRC crap on parts of our community while claiming to be working for the rest of it. Sure.

    No, thanks.

  11. 11 Ricardo

    I remember a time, when I was a Chicago youngster, when sisters from the Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective would come to help do guerrilla theater with the Black Panther Defense Committee. We often met in the home of the local coordinator of the Gay Liberation Front (this was only about a year after Stonewall). The significance of this is that it expressed an underlying shared assumption that we had to have each other’s backs in the struggle against oppression.

    What happened after that involved the repression of many movements and the channeling of people’s desire for justice into “non-profit corporations,” each representing a “community” (not a movement), each seeking a place at the table, not justice for all.

    It comes down to vision. Do we envision alliances among people, across all kinds of lines, struggling for a just world, or do we see our alliances as being within our “communities,” the streets and the suits united to compete against other “communities”? It’s not about being intolerant…it’s about deciding what kind of future we wish to fight for…and with whom.

  12. 12 Westbrook

    Amen, Jack. Amen.

  13. 13 Stardog

    I am amused upon reading all the negative stuff about what the HRC does or does not promote as far as it’s ultimate mission to promote equality for all. It sounds like all the ranters are being held captive in some hidden HRC basement, being forced to join a group to which they obviously don’t want to associate with. The answer then is to get off your collective asses and go join a group that supports your own agenda(s). There’s lots of ways to be supportive of gay causes these days so pick the one whose direction you believe in and go for it. Jeez, why waste everyone’s time spewing hatred against one single organization. The HRC is only one puzzle piece in the struggle to gain equality for all. Give it a rest.

  14. 14 Gopher1

    Well said stardog!

  15. 15 Bq

    what a lovely, eminently reasonable view of the world, stardog.

    …except maybe the part where it’s usually mainstream, “palatable”, wealthy white orgs that get more funding, visibility and support?

  16. 16 Gopher1

    Again, HRC (whether you like them or don’t like them) is only one single piece in a bigger puzzle. Nothing more, nothing less. Of all the “minority” groups that are looking for greater visibility of their cause(s), I dare say that the gay community has the most financial potential, bar none, of any group to successfully fund other viable organizations that can address our community’s needs in ways other than the approach taken by HRC. Maybe it’s time for other groups to form and find the capital necessary to sustain themselves and grow membership, much like the HRC did. There’s certainly room for more than one voice at the table.

  17. 17 Bob

    Don’t worry, I ignore the stickers,
    Just like I ignore your campaigns,
    Ignore your parades,
    And ignore your request to be addressed differently.
    Why all the hub bub to be equals.
    You are! Therefore, be happy to be common like the rest of us.
    Guess it is hard to do that in a full diva get up on a float.
    The campaign will destroy itself.

  18. 18 Laura

    JACK MUST BE A DEMOCRAT! You are ridiculous. It’s really unfortunate you go out of your way to push your negative opinion on others. Open your eyes, let people be happy OR just keep to your miserable self! Thanks you’ve inspired me to put another equal sign on my car!

  19. 19 Andrew

    I got my bumper sticker from a friend who shares all my views on homosexuality. She apparently got a handful for free at some political shindig. She had never heard of the equal sign or HRC, and neither do many people I know, but they told her that it is basically like a nod to other people who ‘get it’ to kind of acknowledge–without words–that there is a struggle and it is recognized.

    To be honest that’s why I was so excited to put the sticker on my bumper eventually. After I did I got a lot of people interested in what it meant and who put it out, and I just wasn’t satisfied with what I had been told so I decided to look it up.

    It just seemed so simple I never really figured there was a huge political agenda behind such a novel concept. I think I’ll leave it on because I would like to believe it is open to interpretation, but I’ll keep an eye on how it grows as a message in the mainstream.

  20. 20 devoid

    Bq…I wonder to myself how just an equality cause is when prefaced by such an “us vs. them” attitude.

    Doesn’t that negate the very core of equality?

  21. 21 Edward

    This is a bit of a late-in-the-story comment, but still relevant, I think.

    I’m a Canadian, so the HRC logo isn’t seen much around here. However, I do have one stuck to the top of my laptop, after it was given to me by a friend while I was visiting San Francisco. I hadn’t been aware of the limitations of the HRC’s focus. I think I’ll scratch it off.

    As you probably know, here in Canada homosexuals now have the right to legally marry. Many of my queer friends and acquaintances see this as a positive step. I feel otherwise.

    Queer culture is rapidly being de-politicised and less activist in Canada. While I won’t suggest that that isn’t an effect of equal marriage rights exclusively (a greater level of social acceptance in general is also a major factor, along with increasing subservience to capital in all walks of society), I believe it is a very significant factor. Far too many queers who have married have reacted to that right by becoming apathetic about most other social justice issues. Contributions to gay rights causes have plunged significantly since gay marriage came to be. This apathy is also apparent among those who have not married, but I would suggest that they also have been lulled into this apathy by this development.

    Gay marriage undoubtedly came about in Canada for various reasons, but the value of the lobbying efforts of those with significant resources to lobby cannot be underestimated as a reason. And really, it’s those with the resources, the economically privileged, who probably most desired the ability to marry. Mostly, though not exclusively, that means gay, white males. (For GWMs feeling under attack by this, let me point out that I am usually seen as one of them, when evaluated superficially).

    What I see happening now is that GWMs and their collaborators are retiring to their married enclaves, abandoning all “other” marginalised groups, and contributing fewer and fewer of their resources to queer (or other) rights causes. Queer life here is becoming mundane and “heteronormalised” and, I believe, real queerness is being pushed back underground by the apathy and selfishness of those who now enjoy the benefits that were largely fought for in the streets by those that the privileged HRC types now disdain less discreetly than they did in the past.

    A lot of work has gone into securing the relative comfort and security that homosexuals enjoy today, particularly in large urban centres, but we must remember that these changes have all come about in a relatively short period of time, in historical terms. Let’s not forget that those rights could be snatched away again should the politial will change, particularly if there are other major factors such as a large-scale economic collapse that effects the social order that we currently take for granted.

    Just because “I’m OK” is no reason to turn my back on those who are not OK.

    I leave you with the words of Canadian writer Jane Rule:

    “To be forced back into the heterosexual cage of coupledom is not a step forward but a step back into state-imposed definitions of relationship,” she wrote. “With all that we have learned, we should be helping our heterosexual brothers and sisters out of their state-defined prisons, not volunteering to join them there.”

  22. 22 Preston

    Okay, so I get what you’re against, sort of, but I’m a little confused. I suppose the name “angry brown butch” should’ve set me up enough to expect what I read, no offense intended. What I don’t get is what you stand -for-. You say, “I’m not an opponent of gay marriage, but I also don’t think it’s the most important issue facing the wider queer and trans communities” so what are the more important issues?

    I have a friend who works for HRC, she’s a lesbian, and she’s my friend and so I’m obligated not to be bigoted about what she does and what she cares about, in fact I try and be like that even with people I don’t know. But what has confused me about her for the last year is that she doesn’t seem to care at all about the numerous women’s rights issues and equal rights for women business that’s been going on for decades before HRC even existed. And she doesn’t seem to care that HRC doesn’t really care about women’s rights.

    So I understand, a little, about where you’re coming from. I think HRC is being a little disingenuous by calling themselves -Human- Rights Campaign. I would probably like them more if they were called GLBT Rights Campaign.

    Your post was published in 2006, but it was the first thing that popped up when I googled “HRC sticker”, one of which I am going to buy, not to put on my car, though, because I don’t own one. I ride a bike because I’m a hipster that’s going to force my kids to be vegans, that is if I don’t abort them first, like the crazy left-wing gaywad, I am.

    lol, jk

  23. 23 this article sucks

    How DARE they change letters to denote that all people are equal, and that it doesn’t matter what order they come in? Seriously, this is the whiniest post (that says absolutely nothing) I’ve ever read. I’m not a fan of the HRC, but am mostly pretty neutral. I came here to find out why I should avoid putting a sticker on my car. I still don’t know why; but I know that you can write an entire blog post crying about god-knows-what and never make a point. So kuddos for that I guess?

  24. 24 Tony Marson

    “We also squirted them with water guns.”

    Seriously?!? GROW UP! I compare you to the bully who pushes around a Gay teen. These are gay people like you and I, who are supporting your rights. GROW the F%@K UP! You don’t have to like HRC, but don’t go bullying those who support their cause. Or you stoop to the level of any bully, and you appear as though you are protesting gay rights.

  25. 25 Tom

    A blog is a good place for people to post their views. However, we must respect that not everyone will share your views, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is when people are so passionate that they miss the point. If you’d like to make the rules for a group… You can either join the group or start your own. It shows a lack of maturity to believe that if things don’t go your way… You can wine and cry. This doesn’t help anything. And as far as people calling you names: you should realize that The ego boost has nothing to do with your cause. There is more to life than you and me, the sooner you realize this, the better off you’ll be.

  26. 26 Jack

    whoever wrote this article clearly has way too much time on his hand. Why dont you do something IMPORTANT like concern yourself with causes that matter like abused children or animals. Quit worrying about shit that doesnt matter like “queers” as you put it.

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