This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the first national LGBT march for LGBT Liberation. In 1979, a national network of grassroots committees was formed that developed local platforms and identified local issues of importance to LGBT communities. Those networks elected representatives to regional groupings that debated and discussed issue of pertinence to LGBT communities in those regions, and then those regions, after coming to consensus on the issues that they felt most pressing to bring to a national stage, elected representatives to a national steering committee that put together the final agenda for the march.
This model ensured that the march was not only a visibility event but reflected the issues and concerns of grassroots communities and reflected grassroots leadership. People of color and women were represented in this process. And the process was used again for the next two marches.
In 2000, that all changed. In 2000, the Human Rights Campaign severed its last links with reality and with grassroots communities. It most definitely burned the only, thin, rickety lonely bridge it had with people of color communities. It created a national steering committee representing a narrow set of ideas, a narrow site of ideologies and a whole lot of white people. There was an entire movement by queer people of color to work with and hold accountable the national march in 2000, which, largely, failed. Elizabeth Birch had the money and the influence, and she used both oppressively and shadily. The march happened and, as progressive suggested, was wildly ineffective and had almost no impact on the movement. Why? Because it had NO connection to the issues and areas where on the ground activists were organizing.
Now here comes Millenium March Part II, conceived of by Cleve Jones and his backers at the HRC. Jesus Christ do we never learn.
The agenda for this march looks much like the last one. They threw "immigration" issues in there as a bone to people of color communities, but the march is still focused on marriage, it is still focused on a gays in the military, and it is still focused on issues that appeal largely to a middle class white LGBT movement and does not reflect in anyway the racial, economic, anti-war and gender justice issues that are at the core of most grassroots queer organizing in the United States.
The march is a farce, it is going to be ineffective, it was poorly organized, poorly planned, and it will be a failure. As a matter of fact, it has already failed. Any march that is not organized in the way that the first three marches were organizing (and, incidentally was the same system used by Bayard Rustin to organize the 1963 March on Washington), is a failure. National organizations DO NOT OWN OR SET the movement agenda. The movement agenda is set by, worked for, and guided by folks on the ground that put their lives and their energy on the line for this work. Joe Solomnese and Evan Wolfson and the rest of the rancid right of the LGBT movement (and damn them to hell if they believe that they aren't the right reactionary wing of our movement) are hurting our movement more than they have ever done to support it let alone MOVE it forward.
Don't get me wrong, I support the queer folks that will spend their time, money, and energy to march this weekend. I have a number of friends that will be going to the march. But, at this point, the march needs to be a success in numbers or it will do so much damage to our credibility as a movement that it will allow the Democrats the space to openly sideline our REAL issues and concerns as opposed to the lip service they pay to it now while ignoring us in the halls of Congress.