Ed Team

Misunderstandings About the Upcoming HRC Visit

Filed By Ed Team | November 04, 2005 11:03 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement

This is the text of my post to the GayIndy listserv: 
This may be tantamount to sticking my hand in a blender, but since I have been involved as a conduit for information I feel compelled to clear up some misunderstandings regarding the recent drama surrounding HRC president Joe Solmonese's upcoming visit to Indianapolis.

When Jon Keep, chairman of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, learned that the event was to be held at the Ratshskellar, in an email letter to chamber members he expressed concern about the choice of location due to past community objection to the Rathskellar holding a fundraiser by Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma.  This event (the Bosma fundraiser) resulted in a public protest by the Indiana Action Network.  Many (not all) involved felt that the Rathskellar should be held accountable for the "other side" raising money in "our" neighborhood, and some called for a boycott of the Rathskellar.  This boycott never materialized.

In Jon's letter he wrote "[w]hile we are supportive of this event in Indianapolis, there are dozens of GLBT-owned and GLBT-supportive restaurants in Indianapolis far more appropriate to the function envisioned by HRC. GLBT events held under the current conditions at the Rathskeller risk not only light attendance, but risk sending exactly the wrong message to Indianapolis." (See links at the bottom of this post for a link to the Chamber letter in its entirety)

GayIndy.Org is a member of the Indy Rainbow Chamber, and as a recipient of the letter I felt it newsworthy and posted a news article on GayIndy on October 29.  To keep everything in the open, I am also on the board of the Indy Rainbow Chamber and formatted it for the members' mailing at Jon's request, so I was aware of it going out before receiving it in my GayIndy mailbox.  I did not seek Jon's permission before posting the GayIndy news article.

Nowhere in the letter, the GayIndy news article, or on posts to Bilerico and the other blogs (at least legitimate ones, I suppose there could have been some rogue blogging I don't know about) will you find the words "boycott" or "protest" regarding the upcoming visit by Joe Solmonese.  Neither the Indy Rainbow Chamber, IAN (more on them below) nor GayIndy.Org, or any other legitimate organization that I know of, suggested that this event should be boycotted due to the Rathskellar being the chosen location.

Jon's letter, the GayIndy.Org article, and the Bilerico post (which essentially mirrored Jon's letter) prompted many people to contact the HRC, who then decided to move the event to Agio. I was told that the national HRC people were not upset with the community response; on the contrary, my understanding is they were very gracious and even complimentary of the community's ability to muster grassroots response.

There also seems to be some misconceptions about the role of the Indiana Action Network (IAN) in these recent events.  The simple truth is that IAN's role was all but non-existent.  A non-threatening "heads up" email authored by IAN president Jerame Davis went out to its mailing list, which was nothing more than a copy and paste of his public Bilerico post (see link below).  A follow-up email was sent by Jerame to the same list announcing that the HRC had moved the event.  This, too, was a copy and paste of his Bilerico post.  IAN never planned a protest or boycott of the event, nor did it ever threaten such action.  IAN's only participation was as stated above.  A visit to their website at http://www.indiana-action.net will show that there is absolutely no mention of the HRC event.

Below are some links to information that I have referenced.  I hope this clears up some misunderstandings regarding these recent events, and while I am not without personal opinions in this matter, I am confident that I have provided only factual information in this post.

10-29-2005:  Text of Jon Keep's letter to Indy Rainbow Chamber Members:

10-29-05:  Choice of Venue for Planned Indy Visit by HRC President Stirs Controversy

10-31-05:  New Venue to Be Selected for "Meet and Greet"

11-02-05:  HRC President to Host Local "Meet and Greet"

6-14-05:  IAN Delivers Noisy Greeting to Bigotry Supporters

10-29-05:   When the HRC Comes to Town

10-31-05:  Follow-up: When the HRC Comes to Town

11-3-05:  HRC President Joe Solmonese Meet & Greet Info

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I have to admit, I was a bit confused about the issue, and whether there was going to be a protest or something along those lines. This certainly sorts everything out.

I'm very glad that it all turned out well and that Agio is supportive of the event.

I will admit that I have not paid much attention to the variety of organizations fighting the good fight on my behalf. Just in this post I counted two or three different groups, and an "outside looking in" perspective seems as though there is disagreement between those groups on how this should have been handled. I could be wrong.

However, if I am right, and there is discord - what will it take to stop it? The other side is much larger and very well organized. We can't allow disagreements to splinter our already small numbers into even smaller groups sometimes working at cross purposes.

It's a double-edged sword. One of the things that makes us better than them is our individuality and our independence of thought.

Many have taken to use the word "sheeple" to describe the followers of the far-right. Their side follows blindly without questioning their leaders. No-one would ever say that about the GLBT community!

Unfortunately, there are also those on our side who for whatever reason (my opinion is it's most often ego-driven) will engage in intra-community territorial pissing contests that are quite counter-productive.

I'm a relative newbie (I've been doing the GayIndy site since 2002), but I've resigned to the fact that these intra-community flare-ups are just a fact of life.

I was in no way suggesting that we become lemmings. However, at some point we have to recognize that everyone should at least be rowing in the same direction. Sure it would be more efficient if we were rowing in perfect unison, but that isn't very likely (or fun either). I don't want to risk my future on someone elses ego.