Wednesday, November 03, 2010

OutServe = Useless Gay Niche Org

How's this for being clueless about meeting the grassroots needs of activists? A young gay pundit at Bilerico, Phil Reese, could not rave high enough about a Cathy Renna Inc release heralding another un-needed niche org, called OutServe, started by an active duty serviceman named JD Smith. The org is a handful of friends with a web site and enough money to hire Renna. Nothing more.

Reese more than two months back simply gushed over the supposed new greatness of the military org in an essay titled "Is OutServe creating a grassroots organizing model we can copy?":

[On August 30], OutServe announced, however, they are building a network of base and regional chapters that will spring up--one by one--to help local LGBT military personnel connect to the larger national network and help create more visibility and a stronger presence in the military, while still maintaining anonymity while "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is still enforced.

For two years, the movement has been talking about developing a nation-wide network of grassroots in-district teams in every Congressional district in the nation. [...]

Besides being a much smaller model, something that can be overcome; the difference between this plans and the wheel spinning of the larger movement is that OutServe has leveraged and is leveraging online social networks to develop this structure. It's not top-down or bottom-up--its simultaneous. What can we learn from this? [...]

We can't learn much from the same failed approach of grand announcement press releases and decent web sites. Reese touts the org saying it will build a network of chapters that will be private and confidential, to protect the anonymity of members. In 2010, such a model built through social networking will be as successful as the "Snakes on a Plane" was at the box office. Returns will be minimal, at best.

Reese also promised:

I have it on very good authority that we'll be hearing a lot more from OutServe in the coming weeks.  

Yeah right, and two months later their web site is dormant and not a single chapter has been formed.

This latest splinter gay group is so unnecessary, when we already have SLDN, Servicemembers United, HRC, NGLTF, Knights Out, Log Cabin, GetEQUAL, Courage Campaign, Dan Choi Inc and at least a dozen other groups fighting to lift DADT.

Let's be clear about this. The OutServe outfit and its media rep, Cathy Renna, have not advanced the movement nor shown us a viable model for modern organizing. They've created a site, a few releases and garnered Bilerico promotion from Reese. Yawn. It's about as effective in creating a network as the Congressional district captains promised at Cleve-Apalooza last year.

Speaking of that network, Reese opines that we're going to get one:

In fact, our Congressional district grassroots network of activists nation-wide will be like this. Not focused on any specific legislation at its core, but able to be leveraged for or against any legislation that needs support in the districts. That's why this [OutServe] model is important to watch. Their structure seems very egalitarian, their roll-out seems to be driven by the local chapters themselves.

What local chapters is he talking about? Someone should inform Reese those OutServe chapters, just like the Congressional district captains, have yet to materialize.

1 comment:

Phil Reese said...

Thanks for the links, Michael! Actually we did hear a lot from OutServe: they've released several press releases, including releases about their first major event this winter, and they've appeared on Signorile's show, my show and have appeared in Newsweek, AP, New York Times and more--all after I wrote that.

Regarding the chapters: I believe everything put out there is very clear that the chapters are fully confidential NOT to keep the ball away from Michael Petrelis, but to insulate the members from career-destroying outings. Obviously the locations of the chapters cannot be released to avoid focused scrutiny by the military leadership, but they now have chapters both in the US and overseas.

Clearly, however, this just shows I need to update the kids on OutServe. Thanks for giving me something to write about now!