Monday, September 1, 2014

Join the Impact

Activism Rooted in the Internet

at home in a crowd of thousands

Posted by willow On June - 8 - 2009

The following post was originally published on Tuesdaysblog.com on May 19, 2009.  It is republished here with the permission of the author, Tony Clements. Tony Clements is a sometimes actor, director, composer, playwright, t-shirt salesperson, former telemarketer (he’s sorry), piano salesman, newspaper ad man, wedding band singer, and kimball organ demonstrator in the local shopping mall (at eight years old.) 28 years ago he was editor of the emerald echo, his school newspaper – experience he’s sure is evident here.

last sunday afternoon, as i stood among the thousands of people corralled into the closed-down southbound lane of 6th avenue between 45th and 47th at new york city’s rally for marriage equality, i glanced around and realized i was experiencing an emotion i hadn’t felt so strongly since i first walked into a gay bar back in the early 1980s. and i’m not talking about an overwhelming sense that my hairstyle is five years out of date.

that first gay bar was actually in san francisco, california. cliché? maybe. but for a small town wisconsin boy, fresh out of high school, that was going some. my good friend kevin and i had finally taken that long-planned trip to california – (was it late 1979?) – something we’d been dreaming about for years. like millions of other kids, we’d told ourselves we would drive across the country in a beat-up volkswagen van, making pit stops along the way to camp-out. as with most “drive a van to california” schemes, reality eventually set in (where were we gonna get camping gear, much less a beat-up volkswagen van?) and we opted to fly.
we stayed with a friend

who’d moved to the west coast from southeastern wisconsin the day after his high school graduation, a couple of years prior. after a long day of travel and a quick dinner, we dropped our bags and our california buddy, eager to show us the town, looked us in the eye and said,“now: do you really want to see san francisco?”

somewhere deep down i knew what he meant. i’m not sure kevin did.

we walked a couple of blocks to a corner bar – nothing special. far from seedy, but certainly not fancy. neighborhoody, like the kind of place my dad hung out after a ballgame. (go ahead, make that leap.) fifteen or so minutes and a beer and a half later, kevin leaned in to me and whispered, “shit tony, i don’t think there are any girls in here.” and he was right. scanning the bar, we sort of giggled to ourselves, finished our beers, and moved on to “safer environs.” kevin was uncomfortable. i pretended to be.
before we left the bar, however, i’d taken notice of a late 20-something year-old man playing a game of pool. by himself. he was dressed modestly – worn-out blue jeans, work boots, a brown hooded sweatshirt – and had an intense, but warm, open face. no one spoke to him, no one approached him, yet he was anything but alone. there was a solace, a confidence. i caught his eye at one point, and something subtle passed between us. nothing sexual, but awelcome, if you will. as if he knew something i didn’t, and was telling me everything was going to be okay. at the time i wasn’t sure what it was, but i remember it vividly to this day.

after his pool game he perched in a corner, still by himself, and pulled out a small, silver harmonica. a harmonica. what a fantastical place this san francisco is, i thought. no one seemed to care or even notice when he began to play. the tune was sweet and simple, but it was a bluesy, haunted sound that filled the echoy openness of that quiet barroom, interrupted only by the muffled whistles and dings of a lone pinball machine in a back room somewhere. and eventually the jukebox playing the stones’ “miss you”.
it wasn’t the absence of straight folk that i found intriguing about that neighborhood bar, or even the mysterious harmonica player in the corner. it was the stunning sense of freedom. of being at home. it’s not something you feel as a gay person growing up in a small, rural town. it’s not something you know enough to miss, either. without realizing it, you carry with you a sense of staying hidden, keeping quiet, no matter who you’re with or where you are. you must never let your guard down, not for a moment, for fear of not only the shame it could cause your family, your friends, you, but of the physical harm that might follow. even in this bar, thousands of miles from home, that new taste of freedom – palpable as it was – wasn’t quite complete because my friend kevin was always present. i couldn’t completely embrace it, savor it. as much as i loved kevin and was enjoying our trip together, i longed desperately for him to leave for a hour or two so i could be completely unencumbered by any fear of judgement or ridicule. not so anything could happen, just so i could…be.

sunday, at the rally, i looked around and took in some of the people near me – three couples in particular. two older men, probably mid-70′s, standing side by side, one gently rubbing the other’s neck. every so often they would share a look that i don’t ever remember seeing between my parents.

behind me were two women standing one in front of the other in an easy, casual embrace. now and again the woman behind would rub her nose in the other woman’s hair, and they would both smile a gentle, peaceful smile.

the third couple was my partner rob and me. look at us, i thought. we are so stronghappy. together. a team.

and then there was a young man, 17 maybe, standing with friends. he glanced at me, our eyes met briefly, and i smiled. he did too. everything’s gonna be okay, i said.

i had to force myself to think, for a moment, about how uncomfortable this scene might make some people feel. to me, we were all beautiful human beings, loving each other, supporting each other, caring for each other. the mystery, the solace, the confidence. it was all quite wonderful.

kevin would still probably be uncomfortable, i thought to myself. thank god i don’t need to pretend to be anymore. we don’t need to pretend.

we are at home.
we are free
.

A Long Awaited Update: Open Letter Signatures

Posted by admin On January - 25 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I can’t even beging to tell you how many emails I have received this week regarding the Open Letter Signature Drive.  I apologize to everyone for not updating you in a timely manner, but the truth is, we are STILL counting signatures.  This is a GREAT problem to have!  It means that we had so many people participating, that the core group we put together to handle 1 million signatures, are overwhelmed!  One of our board members got a call on the 16th of the month from the post office.  They asked him to come over there immediately because they couldn’t handle the amount of mail we were receiving!  His apartment is covered with signature sheets!!

We did the math.  Each signature sheet has the ability to contain 20 signatures.  To get 1 million signatures, that means a MINIMUM of 50,000 sheets of paper!  Stacked on top of each other, 50,000 sheets of paper would be a little over 4feet tall!  Talk about an amazing visual impact!  Well, we have around 4-5ft of paper right now, and have decided to EXTEND the signature drive to DOUBLE our impact!  We are doing this because weather and college break got in the way of about 7 states participating.  Ohio had to cancel their event because of a huge snow storm.  Manhattan’s turn out was affected by weather.  Small college towns were just returning from break.  The list goes on.  We want to ensure that EVERYONE has a voice in this and EVERYONE’S SIGNATURE COUNTS! Because of this, we pushed our deadline to hand the signatures to Obama to the end of February.  We will need all signature sheets mid-Feb to ensure that they all get counted.  This ensures that the letter gets to Obama while Congress begins their session and that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate.

So here’s what we are going to do:

  1. We hope that you’ll join us and print out the Open Letter and Signature Sheets and start collecting more signatures.
  2. Send signatures to our Ohio office BY MONDAY FEB 16TH to ensure all are counted
  3. Here’s a new twist based on feedback from our members: Write your own letter, sign it, and send it our way, we’ll ensure it gets to him.
  4. If you can’t get to a printer, then let me send you a letter and some signature sheets, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to mail the signatures back.  Use the contact us form to request the forms.

Many people want us to turn this into an online signature drive, but we feel that this will negate the purpose.  Many online petitions are taken less seriously and considered much less valid.  We have a 4.5foot stack of signatures to bring to Obama!  We want to make that 10 feet tall!  Handing over a DVD with all the signatures just doesn’t make the same visual impact.  We want the world to see just how many of us there are that support full equality for LGBTQI citizens!  Let’s do this in the most organic way possible.

Further, we want everyone to continue the conversation of equality.  This signature drive provides each and every one of you with the opportunity to do this.  So who’s with us?  Ready to kick it up a notch?

A Long Awaited Update: Open Letter Signatures

Posted by amy On January - 25 - 2009

Hi Everyone,

I can’t even beging to tell you how many emails I have received this week regarding the Open Letter Signature Drive.  I apologize to everyone for not updating you in a timely manner, but the truth is, we are STILL counting signatures.  This is a GREAT problem to have!  It means that we had so many people participating, that the core group we put together to handle 1 million signatures, are overwhelmed!  One of our board members got a call on the 16th of the month from the post office.  They asked him to come over there immediately because they couldn’t handle the amount of mail we were receiving!  His apartment is covered with signature sheets!!

We did the math.  Each signature sheet has the ability to contain 20 signatures.  To get 1 million signatures, that means a MINIMUM of 50,000 sheets of paper!  Stacked on top of each other, 50,000 sheets of paper would be a little over 4feet tall!  Talk about an amazing visual impact!  Well, we have around 4-5ft of paper right now, and have decided to EXTEND the signature drive to DOUBLE our impact!  We are doing this because weather and college break got in the way of about 7 states participating.  Ohio had to cancel their event because of a huge snow storm.  Manhattan’s turn out was affected by weather.  Small college towns were just returning from break.  The list goes on.  We want to ensure that EVERYONE has a voice in this and EVERYONE’S SIGNATURE COUNTS! Because of this, we pushed our deadline to hand the signatures to Obama to the end of February.  We will need all signature sheets mid-Feb to ensure that they all get counted.  This ensures that the letter gets to Obama while Congress begins their session and that EVERYONE has the opportunity to participate.

So here’s what we are going to do:

  1. We hope that you’ll join us and print out the Open Letter and Signature Sheets and start collecting more signatures.
  2. Send signatures to our Ohio office BY MONDAY FEB 16TH to ensure all are counted
  3. Here’s a new twist based on feedback from our members: Write your own letter, sign it, and send it our way, we’ll ensure it gets to him.
  4. If you can’t get to a printer, then let me send you a letter and some signature sheets, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope for you to mail the signatures back.  Use the contact us form to request the forms.

Many people want us to turn this into an online signature drive, but we feel that this will negate the purpose.  Many online petitions are taken less seriously and considered much less valid.  We have a 4.5foot stack of signatures to bring to Obama!  We want to make that 10 feet tall!  Handing over a DVD with all the signatures just doesn’t make the same visual impact.  We want the world to see just how many of us there are that support full equality for LGBTQI citizens!  Let’s do this in the most organic way possible.

Further, we want everyone to continue the conversation of equality.  This signature drive provides each and every one of you with the opportunity to do this.  So who’s with us?  Ready to kick it up a notch?

DOMA Protest & Signature Drive 411

Posted by amy On January - 8 - 2009

We are just 2 days away from another NATIONAL event that will take us one step closer toward achieving full equality!  On January 10th, our voices will be heard around the nation as we shed light on DOMA and get 1 Million Signatures on our Open Letter to Barack Obama, reminding him of his promise to REPEAL DOMA!  This event is one that comes in many forms with rallies in almost every major city mixed with signature drives throughout the nation.  This Saturday, hundreds of cities around the nation will participate in one of our 4 fantastic options to get involved that include outreach, canvasing, and protests!  This will be a National Day of Impact!

It’s not too late to get involved.  Find an event near you today! If there is not an event in your area, it is not too late to put something together.  Take a que from Julie Phineas of LezGetReal.com – She has planned an entire day of signature gathering!

Check out her video encouraging people to attend her event!

There are 10 Ways to Help us reach 1 Million Signatures – Real People, Real Signatures, Real Change*:

  1. Gather signatures at your place of work (make sure it doesn’t hinder your HR policy)
  2. Go out to the bars on Friday and Saturday nights and get signatures
  3. Go to your local screening of MILK and get signatures from individuals in line or as they are leaving
  4. Go to local stores and ask that they put the signature pages at the counter
  5. Grab a friend and canvas your neighborhood asking for signatures
  6. Go to a local event to gain signatures (Art Walks, Concerts, etc)
  7. Email this blog post to friends and family, ask them to print out the signature page and mail it to Join the Impact
  8. Attend one of the 100 National Rallies on January 10th to gain signatures
  9. Go to church on Sunday and ask for signatures
  10. Use the power of the internet: Blog about it, ping all your friends on Facebook/MySpace, send this message to EVERYONE

*Many have asked why this is not an online petition.  Simply put, we want this to be as real as possible.  Online petitions have less validity and less impact.  We want to show Obama that we can mobilize 1 million people and we need to do this in the most organic way possible.  It’s easy to get 1 million signatures in an online petition.  It takes time, commitment, and energy to get 1 million physical signatures though.  Let’s show Obama just how committed we are to this cause!

Students For Equality Make a Difference on Jan 27th

Posted by amy On January - 1 - 2009

Take a STAND on January 10th

Posted by amy On December - 22 - 2008

Across the country in hundreds of cities, we came together on December 20th in vigil. This was a protest in the spirit of the holiday season, and one that helped us reach 1 Million people with our message of equality. While we didn’t change the hearts and minds of all 1 Million, we did change the lives of many. This highly successful event grew our base, and that growth will show with our next goal: 1 Million Signatures.

On January 10th, 2009 we ask that you join us to unite again! This movement WILL NOT BE WON WITHOUT VISIBILITY. 50 Cities across the country have already jumped on board to organize. And that’s just in a few days of planning. We got 300 cities with 1 week of notice on November 15th. We can easily exceed that this time around. So, on January 10th, we ask that you join us in your city for one or all of the following events:

  • A protest in your area to bring attention to DOMA and the promise that Barack Obama made to repeal DOMA.
  • Organize a transportation unit in your city to get people to the closest DOMA protest
  • Canvas your city to get signatures for our Open Letter to Barack Obama.

In response to President-elect Barack Obama’s “Open Letter to the Gay Community,” we ask that you join us in signing our “Open Letter to Barack Obama,” to be revealed soon. It’s time we show the government how numerous we are. We need to show our impact and we’re going to take it to the White House!

The work done over this weekend will help us achieve and exceed this important goal. Help us get 1 Million signatures, and we’ll get it the letter in Obama’s hands.

Let’s Step it Up a Notch

Posted by amy On December - 9 - 2008

On November 28th, 2008, we began the first annual LGBTQ Food Drive for Equality. Now, a week and a half later, we are on the way, but not quite there yet. We have about HALF of our cities from November 15th signed up to collect for the food drive and Light Up the Night for Equal Rights. WE NEED YOU’RE HELP.

The road to full equality is not going to be one that we drive through over night. Many of you know this. Some of you have been fighting for our equal rights for a lifetime. Many have been fighting for years. And a great deal of us felt the unavoidable spark to step up and fight the minute we saw the results for Prop 8. November 5th awoke a NATION and WORLD of activists! November 15th was our first display of visibility, but if it stops there, then we have accomplished nothing. If we are going to achieve full equality, then we need to unite again! And Again! And Again! We need to remain a united front until EVERY one of us is afforded the same protections under the law that 90% of our citizens enjoy. Since November 5th, some amazing organizations have gained and reignited their voices for equality. We are working with those organizations to ensure that our community has a constant avenue for action and outreach.

Our next two large events offer some great opportunities for our community to build bridges with those who do not understand us or our cause. We ask you to join us during the season of giving to provide food for those in need. Let us go above and beyond. Let us set aside our own struggles, our own needs, to demonstrate to the nation and the world the collective power of the LGBTQ community to be a force of betterment for all society. We will rise above the divisions to recognize that we are all human, we are all working to carve out a space for ourselves in the world, and we all want the same simple opportunities. We ask that you reach out to your local faith based organizations and work with them in this food drive. Reach out to voting districts that voted YES on Prop 8 and show them who we really are. ACTIONS speak LOUDER than WORDS.

Before Prop 8 passed, a great deal of propaganda swayed the movable middle. This propaganda played on people’s fears. It made people believe that we were asking for “special rights.” Take action now to assuage these fears and educate those who believe in these falsehoods. LET OUR ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN THEIR WORDS! This food drive has the opportunity to be hugely successful, but not without your help. Light Up the Night for Equal Rights gives us the chance to educate the nation about the supposed “special” rights we are fighting for: The right to keep a job regardless of sexual orientation, the right to fight for our country, the right to host our partner of years for US citizenship, the right to see our spouse in the hospital, the right to inherit the property of our spouse when they pass, the right to marriage, and so much more… We will make these BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS known on December 20th, and over and over again.

So LET’S STEP IT UP A NOTCH. Let’s get out there and collect food and get out the word for Light Up the Night. Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Figure out who’s in charge or step up as the organizer–visit your city’s page
Step 2: Get a list of faith based food pantries in your area
Step 3: Figure out where you’re going to store the donations until 12/20

Step 4: Get a plan of action together for collecting/dropping off donations
Step 5: Track your success! Add your donation totals to this page

Upcoming Events and Organizing

Posted by admin On November - 26 - 2008

THANK YOU

Posted by amy On November - 15 - 2008

Last week, some felt angry. Last week, some felt defeated. Last week, some felt hopeless.

Today we have shown the world that we will not be victims anymore! Today, our community has risen and shown our opponents that we are MUCH MORE THAN 1 MILLION STRONG! We brought the world’s attention to the outrage that is Proposition 8. We brought the conversation of equality into the living rooms of America and around the world! Today, we took a gigantic step into the next Civil Rights Movement. We have brought the conversation to a national stage. Now it’s time that we keep it going. Join us in a challenge over the next 10 months that will make an IMPACT. 10 months – 10 lives changed. Everyone in this movement must help keep the conversation going. We are asking each and every one of you to engage in 10 conversations with someone who does not understand our struggle and help them to see our point of view. We are not asking that you try to infringe on or disrespect their beliefs. Change can not occur with insult, it will only occur with respect. If all of us work hard to positively affect 10 lives, we can change this entire nation! To help keep the conversation going, we will work with you to launch (at least) 10 national demonstrations of equality outreach. We have already begun taking the steps toward our next big event: Day Without A Gay on December 10th. It is now time we work with our nation to help them see who we are: citizens of the USA who deserve equal protections under the law!
Read the rest of this entry »

Join The Impact – Over 1 Million Strong!

Posted by amy On November - 14 - 2008

Tomorrows events will turn out over 1million people organizing across 300 cities in all 50 states and 10 countries world-wide! Please get the word out to all of your friends. This has grown beyond a national event – this is HISTORICAL! Read the Press Release Here…