Thursday, October 01, 2009

Cleve's March: Capitalism v Socialism?;

Donor Won't Attend October Rally
("Hair" finale, Al Hirschfeld Theatre, NYC, September 16. Photo credit: Bay Area Reporter, Michael Petrelis.)

Wealthy gay advocate Charles Merrill, cousin to the man who founded Merrill Lynch, and whose capitalist and atheist credentials are impeccable, will not be at Cleve Jones' march and rally in DC October 10-11. Charles donated $5,000 to the march, but he's rethought attending the event. Why? He objects to a socialist lesbian leader's role, among other complaints, posted over at

I am not going. Even though I donated $5,000.00 I didn't realize it would be a Marxist "Rosie the Riveter" event with silly religious prayer events leading queers to the mountain top "set my people free". Socialism is not cool. [...]

Count me out. I don't want to alienate those in Congress helping us to repeal DOMA, and the President. LGBT's going to the march are going to be branded as Communists because of socialist propaganda from March organizers Sherry Wolf and Cleve Jones: Both are giving a major workshop on socialism scheduled at the march. Wait till Glen Beck and FOX hear about this dizzy propaganda: Quote from Sherry Wolf:

"As a lesbian Marxist who came of age in the neo-Cold War, AIDS-ravaged 1980s, I too am a member of the post-Stonewall generation who encounters suspicion that struggle and organization are anachronisms. But reality is forcing those alternatives. I would caution leftists against narrowing our sights, presuming that LGBT battles will or should necessarily rise independently of wider outrage against expanding wars and a collapsing economy. Sexual minorities, after all, are directly affected by these unfolding catastrophes and our demands can and must be brought into broader battles that will eventually erupt and can be shaped by leftists."

With Marxists like this preaching socialism, President Obama will turn away even further from us.

I wonder if Charles has conveyed his dissatisfaction to the organizers, and if he has, if they've replied and addressed his concerns. Seems to me the organizers should engage Charles in a public discussion. His views may be akin to those of other gays. At the same time, I'd like to hear from Sherry Wolf and learn what she thinks of Charles' criticism.

In other march news, there was an important and very well-attended community meeting in Washington, DC, last night, to organize for gay marriage in the district.
Read accounts of it from the Blade, or Rick Rosendall of GLAA, or the Washington Post local news blog, or the HRC blog, and get informed on the actions soon to happen at the City Council with gay councilmember David Catania leading the charge.

And notice that none of the accounts say a thing about any participation or presence of anyone from the march's DC host committee. Here was an opportunity to put into action the desired outcome of the march - local gay community engagement for equality and change - and the march organizers apparently made no effort to be part of it.

Would it have been too much trouble for march supporters to distribute flyers on October 11's actions, network and show solidarity with local activists, make a push for folks to be at the march? Longtime gay and AIDS activist Wayne Turner attended last night, and had this say:

I attended the rally kick off for DC's Gay marriage effort. It was a remarkable event. Councilmember Catania is introducing a marriage equality bill next week. There were about 200 folks jammed into the auditorium at the True Reformer building on U Street. It was great to see the new faces, as well the long time activists in the community.

The one thing I didn't see is anyone representing Cleve's march - which takes place in less than 10 days. What a contrast this year's march is to the 1993 March on Washington, with the DC Host Committee and regional organizers, and an open participatory process in developing the march platform.

Seconding Wayne on the missing NEM folks, was Rick at the GLAA blog:

If anyone from the National Equality March was there, they kept it a secret.

Hey, march organizers and supporters. Your presence at the local DC level has been noted.


Charles Merrill said...

From the schedule of the National Equality March:

The Struggle for LGBT Liberation with Cleve Jones & Sherry Wolf
Cleve Jones & Sherry Wolf on The Struggle for LGBT Liberation
Oct 10, 2009 - 4:30-6:30

No, I didn't contact them. When I read a review of Sherry Wolf's communist manifesto, I decided not to go. The right wing congressmen are painting us as a socialist movement and this workshop explains it. I would like to hear from Sherry Wolf about her being a Marxist and what part did she play in the ACT UP movement, if any. Cleve did the quilt memorial but what about Sherry?

OnTheVirg said...

Oh no, the conservative right might not like us if socialists march in solidarity with us! Why contact organizers and openly question the involvement of Ms. Wolf and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) when one can simply make assumptions about their intent and how those who already hate us might perceive it? I personally welcome support and solidarity from all-comers.

My only previous experience with socialists were those in SF who held in disdain, "privileged gay white men" (including my fellow HIV activists) and at ACT UP protests, taunted police and broke stuff. Recently however, I've had the honor of working with members of the ISO to organize transportation and housing for several young LGBT Houstonians to attend the march. During countless hours spent in planning meetings, fundraisers and a 15-passenger van (packed with 16 people!) not once did they try to "indoctrinate" me. On the trip back I initiated discussion of the socialist movement and learned that like AIDS and gay rights activists, not all socialists are alike. The socialists I've come to know support LGBT equality out of a genuine belief in equality for all. Furthermore, I know at least 13 young LGBT activists (and one young-at-heart) who returned to Houston, Texas feeling inspired and empowered but could not have organized or afforded this trip without their help. We kept out-of-pocket costs to less than $100 per person, hotel included.

Lastly, now is the time for a renewed gay rights movement. Cleve and David called for the march because absolutely nothing has been done on LGBT issues as promised during Obama's campaign. We've seen this before and I personally don't want to be fooled again. Although early in an administration with a lot on its plate, as one pundit pointed out, don't ask don't tell is a small morsel. When Clinton was elected and actually said the word "AIDS" in the first 15 seconds of his acceptance speech, many of us (self included) believed our new President really did "feel our pain" and thought we could relax. Then there came "Don't Ask. Don't Tell." Although angered, the LGBT community in 1992 was busy fighting AIDS and didn't have time to put up much protest about gays in the military. We now have the opportunity to mentor a whole new generation of activists unencumbered by the literal fight for life and ready to fight for liberty and pursuit of the happiness we all deserve.