Saturday, April 10, 2010

HRC's Solmonese Vid:
'Who is We? Too Young to Be Tired'

One of the least inspiring and non-engaging gay speakers ever, Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, is profiled in what I believe are newly-posted vids on YouTube from a talk he gave in June 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Because the number of views is so low for this first part of a 6-part series, as are the view for all parts, I don't sense that the vids have been up for very long.

Even though I find him lacking in passion and charisma, I listened to Solmonese and tried to gain insight into how he thinks and operates, as the nation's top professional gay lobbyist.

At about the 6 minute mark of this vid, Solmonese beautifully illustrates why I think he is such a disastrous gay leader. He is talking about meeting a younger gay man, one who is upset about the Prop 8 vote being upheld last spring by the California Supreme Court, he tells Solmonese that he and his contemporaries are tired of waiting for equality.

Instead of accepting what the young man is saying, Solmonese asked himself, "Who's we?" What our Dear Leader is doing is dismissing the man who simply wants what he's promised: equality. He goes on to joke about waiting for the young man, implying sexual attraction, and in the process devaluing the legitimate anger of the young man.

To really make sure we get his contempt for the anger expressed by that man, and a whole lot of other gay people of varying ages, Solmonese makes a crack about the fellow being too young to be tired. And the ignorant folks in the audience laugh loudly, as if the best approach to advancing gay equality and liberation is to get all queeny and camp about the anger of young gays.

Get to the 6 minute mark and give a listen to HRC's leader show his true colors:

Is this joker really the best and the brightest person in the vast gay American community, worthy of leading a great and diverse constituency?

Those remarks were made in June 2009, and as the year progressed and HRC had to deal with the hundreds of thousands of angry gay activists who descended on Washington, DC, in October, who came to town because like the youth Solmonese used to make a few funny points, they are tired of waiting for politicians and gay professional lobbyists to deliver on their promises.

HRC just doesn't get how large parts of the community are way tired, regardless of age, of being told to wait wait wait. If you have the strength to listen to more of Solmonese drone on before the Cleveland audience, click here for the other 5 parts of his speech.


Derrick Mathis said...

You know Michael, I'm not posting this in defense of Joe Solomonese and I did watch the video you posted.

You're right. The cracks he made about the young man were dismissive, condescending and sexist---if there's such an accusation that can be aimed at an self-important white-collar older male gay figure towards a pretty young thang (PYT) gay man.

But I also listened to his statements afterwards in revealing what life was like being gay in NYC at the time of the Stonewall riots. In the greater context of things, it does pay to know where you've been to get a good footing on where you're headed.

I admire and am enthralled with young LGBTs and their demand for justice right now.

I also have tremendous respect for those who know the deal and truly understand just how far we've come in a matter of 40 years.

Many of our youth don't know or have any experience with the holocaust many of us have lived through---how much loss so many of us over 40 have suffered--so much tragedy in our lives. And those of us left standing are here now--living in an incredible time and poised to experience full equality in our lifetimes.

That's a lot of drama. Quiet as it's kept a lot of stripes have been earned merely for the accomplishment of still being alive.

So to that end, I'm not so sure I agree that Solomonese was out of line in the big picture. I think it was appropriate when he asked the young man, 'who's we?'

AndrewW said...

Joe believes the age difference issue is "funny?"

Joe and HRC as currently being dismissed by the community - young AND older, because they are ineffective.

He repeatedly talks about equality as a "journey" and offers no strategy to actually win.

Salaries and perks are more important to Joe than our equality.

What he should have said to the young man was "do you have any ideas or strategies to win, because we have failed miserably." Then, he should have listened.

HRC will not survive the new accountability that is growing in our community. Ideas, strategies and organizations MUST be held accountable - if they are not effective, they must be dismissed.

Good-bye Joe.

Unknown said...

hey derrick,

as a longtime HRC-watcher, i've seen the org's leaders bend over backwards to justify their cluelessness and ineffective ways. i believe it would kill HRC and it's go-slooooow approach if they had to recognize the depth of the impatience in the community. if you're satisfied with solmonese's long view, then support HRC all you want. i'm more interested in kicking HRC's butt and getting them to eventually become fierce advocates. right now, the best HRC is good at is kissing Democratic butt.

hey andrew,

thanks for applying constant criticism to HRC. they've had three decades to deliver some genuine changes at the federal level, and a wider section of the community is demanding HRC embracing gay anger and impatience. let's keep the pressure on HRC!


Lester said...

I respect and admire all the leaders who have brought us this far but it is clear that they have become much too uncomfortable with the status quo and enamored of their own status. Their thinking and their eagerness to fight have become atrophied. Today, I attended a rally protesting Social Security discrimination. The head of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Lori Jean, spoke and she said that it "will take a long time" for us to win our rights back but we will win eventually. With leaders like this, it will indeed take a very long time, if we succeed at all. HRC and the other corporate LGBT organizations remind me of the joke on Futurama where a group of incrementalists are chanting WHAT DO WE WANT? Incremental Change! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? Eventually! Not exactly inspiring. It is unreasonable people, like the young man Solomese is referring to, who can change the world. We will take some lumps along the way and we will taste defeat but that is the price of freedom. Ask Mandela, Ghandi, MLK or Susan B. Anthony. Change does not just roll in on the wheels of inevitability.

Eddie said...

I find it interesting, during the introduction, to hear reference that as president of HRC, getting large companies to include LGBT or be more diverse....

Microsoft, HP, SUN, Oracle, CA, PeopleSoft were all doing diversity before Joe was even considered president of HRC.

As an employee of a large company, diversity was the norm, not the expected... the norm...

This is my last year as HRC member. I'm older than Joe, and I'm tired. Make a joke of that Joe.

I'm tired of the lip service and evidence of action (as I hear claimed). The HRC has become a membership club for those who claim to be diverse but no advocacy. Where is the advocation? Till then, not another goddamn dollar from me.

Jeremy said...

If you're going to talk about history and the importance of getting it right, let's get Joe to tell the ENTIRE story. The gay bars in New York only existed as fronts for the mob. THAT'S why they kept shaking down the place. The gay patrons were pawns in a game of cat and mouse with the police and not targeted ONLY because they had the audacity to gather in groups. It's unfortunate that people can't see fit to tell the entire story because they're afraid of losing sympathy votes. It's just as bad that Stonewall was a constant target, no matter what reason, but the reason IS important because it shows that in order to have a gay bar, there had to be a shady side of the business.

AndrewW said...

HRC does not have a strategy to obtain our full equality.

They have numerous fundraising strategies. I receive 2-3 every month.

In order for HRC to survive they MUST provide a strategy for winning our full equality. After 30 years and +$550 million in donations they must have some idea of how we can win. If they won't present that, they should cease operations.

Unknown said...

Yawn! Why spend the time dismissing HRC? If you hate them- ignore them. If you don't believe in them - ignore them. If you feel they are useless - ignore them.

You all make the statement about how you see HRC as worthless, if so, who is worthy? Where do you put your money and time? What did you do for the last 8 years when Bush was President or were you expecting that LGBT rights would be passed?

I am tired of people like you bashing, go bash FOTF or AFA, go do something about it, start your own organization and go work congress!

Stop the stupidity and focus on getting equality

Jeremy said...

I can tell you where I was for 5 of those... Serving in the military under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. During that time, I took every opportunity to train enlisted men and women on the rules of DADT because I knew, hidden among them, were people who didn't know the rights they DO have. Meanwhile, as an enlisted leader, I also took the time to write every single one of the 100 Senators in the congress to ask for their support in repealing DADT. Since Facebook and MySpace didn't exist yet, I also ran an anonymous Yahoo! Group that was dedicated to educating anyone who was interested on the intricacies of the policy. I gave to SLDN and participated in discussions with DADT repeal advocates at the Palm Center. I stood up for gays and lesbians in uniform publicly and as a leader off-duty provided a safe place for them to unwind at my home, away from the base. Before you bash the bashers, know who you are talking to. I came out to my CO and left the service so I could set an example and show people that integrity is more important than lying to keep a job. Ten years of service were sacrificed just when I was about to reach my dream of being a member of the Chief Petty Officer community because I was forced to take a stand. I have the right to criticize Joe. I served my country... Can you say the same? Can he?

AndrewW said...


Dismissing HRC IS an effort to make progress. After 30 years and $550 million it is very clear they do not have a strategy to achieve our full equality.

I was a donor for many years. They are good at fundraising, but that's it. During the last two years I have asked HRC for their "strategy" and "when" they thought we could win. They said both questions were not "answerable."

In business, we are constantly looking for effective ideas and we are constantly adjusting tactics and strategies. That's because we are always being held accountable by the marketplace. HRC doesn't think they need to be effective in order to survive and raise money. That's why they're failing.

If you believe HRC provide some benefit for the $50 million we give them each year, please share.