Prop 8 Protest-Fatigue and Message-Dilution to Continue in 2009
What busy times these are for homosexuals and their sympathizers! Protests aplenty loom in the coming weeks and months. An unofficial list of upcoming events can be found at the Against8 blog; and an official list can be found, well, nowhere, since nobody's really in charge.
This decentralized, informal, grassrootsy approach has been fun, but it's also increasingly confusing -- and, we worry, irrelevant. Dan Savage observed last week that the movement is still crippled by its lack of clear, attainable goals; and, he pointed out, "Not every idea is a good one." Meanwhile, Rex Wockner found weak messaging at a candelight vigil ("the pretend nuns in face paint likely added to the confusion") and Peter Staley loves Join The Impact's verve but laments that their disconnectedness and slowing momentum is leaving them with barely any impact to be joined.
The bottom line: all that post-election post-Milk momentum is running out of steam as the crowd gradually drifts away from the movement, leaving only the hard-core activists behind.
So, those upcoming protests? We predict that they'll be attended by ever-fewer people as they drag into February and "regular people" find new things to care about. Rex Wockner says that "the method by which it was organized (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, e-mail, text-messaging) can be reactivated in minutes whenever the moment strikes," but that doesn't strike us as being accurate. You can try to reactivate the network, but the shrinking attendance at events since the election seems to indicate that response, over time, will diminish.
It was over a month ago that we observed a fatal aimlessness to the protests. The SF protests in November ended with a band of misguided weirdos blocking traffic in the Castro, and we hate to say it, but it looks like we're seeing the same thing happen on a national scale.
- Agree on some clear, attainable goals.
- Make it clear to everyone what you're doing; and provide status updates.
- Shoot down the bad ideas.
- Write honest postmortems -- and don't pat yourself on the back every five minutes.
- Drop the nationwide, one-size-fits-all-communities actions in favor of specific, targeted, customized campaigns that can push the ball forward.
- Focus on states where gay marriage is attainable in the next five years: California and the northeast.
- Get off the web and organize in real life.
That last one, we feel, is the most vital point; without real-life organizing, none of the other points can happen. See you at Equality Camp!