Thursday, July 23, 2009

SF AIDS Walk Down $900K Over 2008;

Only 476 Views of Cleve's DC March Folly

Because I'm still covering from rectal surgery and managing the pain with powerful meds, I haven't been paying my usual close attention to HIV/AIDS matters, so I only learned today that the recent San Francisco AIDS Walk's donations were down significantly. The Mercury News reports a $900,000 drop in contributions compared to 2008.

That is a staggering drop, especially for the Bay Area, which has seen a generally smaller dip in AIDS donations compared to other regions in recent years, and it comes on the heels of deep cuts in state funding for HIV/AIDS treatment programs.

In San Jose, the Billy DeFrank Gay Community Center needs to raise $50,000 in less than two months, otherwise it will close its doors.

The reality of the recession across California on struggling LGBT individuals and advocacy groups, along with the problems of people with AIDS and our jeopardized direct healthcare services, is clear. Money is scarce. Everyone is tightening the purse strings and there are fewer dollars to go around for essential things like food, rental payments and medical costs.

But why worry about those trifles? Let's all mobilize to be in Washington in little more than two months from today, as we are being urged by California gay leaders Cleve Jones, Dustin Lance Black and Torie Osborn.

The YouTube video from last week the three key organizers of the October 11 gay march on Washington has been viewed less than 500 times. That doesn't bode well for a large turnout in October, but the organizers have finally created a decent web site and gay political powerhouse David Mixner is blogging this week on why the march is important.

Since the DC march was first announced in May, I've waited for a groundswell of support to gather in the community, and I've yet to see hard evidence that the necessary components to mobilize a half-assed successful march on DC are in place.

Did I miss the press release announcing formation of local committees to assist with travel, housing and fundraising issues? Hell, I'm still waiting for the list of national committee organizers to be made public! From what I've gathered speaking to friends in DC, the organizers have not done anything as old-fashioned as open an office there, nor is anyone in the capital serving as coordinator.

At this point, even if Gay Inc groups stepped in at this point to help, how many LGBT Americans will all of a sudden say, "Gee, I ought to know put aside money to be there in October because after months of opposing the march, HRC/NGLTF/GLAAD/PFLAG/Stonewall Democrats/Equality Federation members now endorse it, and I can't wait to listen to the cast of 'Hair' sing to me about sunshine on the Mall."

Given the ever-weakening California economy, the basic unmet daily needs of LGBT people, or threatened gay and HIV services, I wonder who exactly from here is going to DC in October. Maybe the Eastern and Central states are conducting mass organizing and I've simply missed all the coverage about it.

There are lots of things I don't know about inner workings of the march organizers and their infrastructure, but of one thing I am certain. They will not be launching a network of LGBT activists in every Congressional district after their disaster flops on the National Mall.

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