Alex Blaze

How does this video weird me out? Let me count the ways...

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 27, 2008 9:26 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Cyndi Lauper, HRC, Human Rights Campaign

From the HRC:

iPhone users: Click to watch


So a quote from MLK, without much concern for his radical class criticism?

An endorsement from Chris Matthews?

Did y'all get enough Cyndi Lauper? You know she likes HRC, that Cyndi Lauper! They got Cyndi Lauper! OMG, Cyndi Lauper!

Are there people out there who still care about HRC's Corporate Equality Index?

I didn't know Joe was so... fit....

Will that song be stuck in my head all day tomorrow?

And why does that voice-over sound like she's taking a break from narrating IMAX films?

Maybe I'm just too jaded to enjoy this like I'm supposed to. I'll be a good gay tomorrow and enjoy this with popcorn.

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An endorsement from Tweety? Must be a pretty thin resume if you use that to puff it up.

"MATTHEWS: Well, the wonderful Michael Savage, who’s on 570 in DC, who shares a station with you at least, he calls it [laughter]—what’s he call it?—he calls it Bare-back Mount-ing. That’s his name for the movie."

I am curious to what they are going to use this video for exactly.

As for the Corporate Equality Index, I was wondering why you are cynical about it. I am looking for a job currently and being trans, I thought it might be a good resource to see who is pushing diversity in their company. Should I be wary of this survey?


It is such a shame, so young, and so cynical.

HRC is propagandizing, trying to rebuld it's reputation after the debacle of ENDA. Look for more flashy ads about how it is out there working for the good of all LGBT people(as long as they are rich, white gay men.).

alex, you are sooooooo right. freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom.....but i don't think gays have a history of being enslaved. definitely not equal - hated and discriminated against - but not enslaved. propoganda doesn't describe or do justice to all of the half truths in this promotion - for instance, you would have the impression that a law was actually NOT true - even after a complete betrayal and sell out. some victory. go team. freedom, freedom, ..... solomnese makes my skin crawl - and so did this video. i can console myself that they spent my contribution last year before we were betrayed - and they are just wasting traitors' money now.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | March 28, 2008 9:31 AM

Yeah, Alex, it does seem that you are too jaded "enjoy" the video. Though I am sure enjoyment is not what HRC had hoped to inspire with this video. A sense of hope, yes. A sense of enjoyment, no.

What were you hoping to accomplish with this post other than taking yet another swipe at HRC?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | March 28, 2008 9:38 AM

@ Angie

The Corporate Equality Index is a great resource. You can find it here:

You can also check out the list of best places to work for GLBT people also by HRC here:

Good luck with your job search.

I'm with Michael on this one. It's a promotional video. We all promote ourselves - from online personal ads to business advertisements to my posts on radio interviews and blog awards. HRC depends on volunteers and charitable giving. They'd be neglecting their organization if they didn't produce the most effective puff piece possible. Seriously.

Tweety! Tweety! Tweety!

Time for an appletini!

Oh wait...

I can't afford one. I wonder if whoever is allowed to make a living putting together sickening, self-aggrandizing puff pieces for the Scampaign will buy me one.

Mind you, I don't drink. Still, seeing that makes me want to do something with one.

@ Angie @ Michael

Chevron (100 CEI) is "great" for queer employees in America, not so great for queers living in Burma where the military junta is funded by Chevron investments.

Nike (100 CEI) is a "great" place to work if you're a queer employed in the accounting department at corporate headquarters, but it's not so great if you're a queer person of color stitching their clothes together.

Sprint (100 CEI) offers "great" benefits to queer employees. But they contract with the state to charge prisoners 600 times the normal rate to provide phone service in jail. So incarcerated trans women, whose identity have been systematically criminalized, have their vital connections to friends and family severed even further.

And the list goes on and on...
The CEI paints a picture of what is good for white-collar, queer, white American citizens and sets that picture up as what is good for all queers. This process marginalizes queer people of color, working class queers, and queers without the privilege of American citizenship, and erases their daily struggle for survival.

And even if you ignore all of that, there is still Marti Abernathey's post that illustrates why the trans part of the HRC's index doesn't even work in the first place. Apparently even the ultra-conservative Domino's pizza scores points for being trans friendly under HRC's definition. And if HRC corrected this error, they wouldn't even rate a 100% themselves!! Knowing that seems particularly relevant to your job search.

So yeah, my opinion is that the CEI is actually not a "great" resource. But maybe I'm just defining "great" a little differently than Michael.

What am I trying to accomplish with this post? That's a good question, but I did already promise TBP readers no more existentialism until I've posted 2000 times on this site. So I can't answer.

Yeah, it's a promotional video, but "hope" doesn't describe the feeling I get from this. Perhaps I should have been direct instead of snarky and just said that this is an attempt to raise funds from low-information queers instead of engaging the community. No, there's nothing wrong with this video in and of itself (OK, there is, but they're just details issues), but it goes back to the problems with the way politics in general is done, the way the nonprofit industry is structured, and ways that activism have developed in the last decade and a half that leave people at the bottom rungs of a given identity behind, excluded, and/or jaded.

Although that Chris Matthews quotation is really troubling. Does NOW quote Christopher Hitchins in their promotional videos? Is John Hagee going to be in Catholic League promo videos? Lou Dobbs in Hispana's promo material?

And it wasn't all criticism. I said Joe came off as fit.

Re the Corporate Equality Index, the problem starts with the methodology, the fact that it's based on just a survey of corporate policy instead of actual measures taken to benefit LGBT workers. That is, a company can say that they offer domestic partner health care benefits, but then just not give them out (like my ex's ex-partner's firm did) and get points anyway on the index. A company can have a non-discrim policy and never enforce it (like one small business I worked for that fired me for being gay despite the fact that I had the best evaluation of anyone who worked there), and still get a point.

I also have a problem with it being used for more than just seeing what an individual company is doing and instead as an aggregate indicator of workplace conditions for LGBT people as it was being used in the video and as it was described in HRC press releases. Um, it measures several hundred businesses, definitely not a measure of working conditions for LGBT people across the country. And, no, I didn't post on that last summer when it came around when I wanted to because I was just giving them a break.

Also, Marti Abernathey posted last year specifically about the trans relevant questions on the index.

And then there's the fact that a corporation can be just awful to overseas queer workers or to queer consumers and still get a 100 on the index.

Bil, is this the most effective puff piece possible?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | March 28, 2008 12:08 PM

@ Alex

So, because the CEI does not include every business in the U.S. you think it is not a worthwhile resource?

And because it does not meet every criteria that you have laid out, it is not a worthwhile resource?

Okay, then show us something better.

Sportin' Life | March 28, 2008 12:41 PM

It's a promotional video. We all promote ourselves.

That's true, but what does HRC actually do other than promoting itself? The list of accomplishments--over decades now--is pretty short. Or at least, it seems short to me considering the amount of money that has passed through the hands of the organization.

The LGBT community needs its own fifty-state strategy. It should be clear to everyone by now that we can't simply purchase equality by making campaign contributions to the right people in Washington.

Michael, you haven't responded to anything I've said. I didn't say that it wasn't a "worthwhile resource" because it doesn't include every company. I said that it was being sold as a measure of the way LGBT workers are treated, that as an aggregate the report can say something more than the policies of one company or another in the subset that was asked.

I don't think that the criteria I lay out were trivial, and if you think they are I'd like to hear why. If a company says it gives out same sex DPB's and then it doesn't, it honestly doesn't matter all that much to the gay boy at the hospital with pneumonia that his partner's company got a CEI of 100. (Not to say that we shouldn't be moving to single-payer anyway...)

Something better would start with the employees and not the with the text of company policy. It wouldn't go to the head of HR but instead start from the bottom and work it's way up.

As far as I know, there isn't anyone doing anything like that.

"So, because the CEI does not include every business in the U.S. you think it is not a worthwhile resource?"

I can't speak for Alex, but the mere fact that it emanates from an organization that itself discriminates against trans people in the employment arena makes it the antithesis of a worthwhile resource.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 29, 2008 9:58 AM

This promo piece was not targeted at a Gay audience at all. It was targeted at a "liberal" audience who has deep enough pockets to contribute. There were no trans people just as there were no leather bikers. This is a vanilla "feel good about yourself for contributing" video which will soon be playing at a Rotary Club near you who would not invite you to join.

I work for Sprint Nextel. I have a medical issue that according to their corporate index rating of 100%, they are suppose to be providing me. However, talking to Jamison Green on this very problem and that seems to be the one thing that pissed him and Donna Rose off the most while they were involved. The bar is set so low that even if a company lies on the pethetic questions HRC asks, that they can still get 100%. It's about as meaningless as trying to fight for a gay rights bill in Antarctica.

"Intersting that I didn't see any Trans people on that video..."

Interesting, perhaps. Certainly not surprising, though.

"The HRC is so ten mins ago..."

Actually, they're more like 'so 1979'.

In fairness, it is not universally easy to tell that a person is of trans-history. My friend of op-history tells a funny story about a woman that she knew who was railing about a proinent local figure that the woman had interviewed years before recently changing genders.

The person referred to was my friend; the woman had no idea that my friend was of operative history or that she had once been the "he" interviewed

thelonious83 | April 4, 2008 4:47 PM

I can understand the frustrations that people have with HRC because of what happened with ENDA but I think it might be worthwhile for some of the critics here to investigate the organization's efforts a little bit more.

Concerning the CEI, I agree that some of the companies who get 100s have many human rights and environmental policies that need serious improvement. However, while opposing/boycotting those companies is effective to a certain extent how will they change for the better if there aren't groups negotiating and encouraging them to improve? If you read about the CEI you'll see that HRC does work with GLBT/ally employee groups at the companies they evaluate, especially if the company is struggling. I agree that HRC should have a better system for evaluating Transgender policies for the CEI.

I also just wanted to say, having followed the gender inclusive Hate Crimes bill's progress this year, that HRC did a great job pushing it forward. It passed both the House and Senate and only didn't pass because of Bush's veto. I think that was a really significant moment that passed without much attention because of the ENDA controversy. If we elect a democratic president Hate Crimes is ready to pass and Don't Ask Don't Tell will be overturned and I think HRC has done a lot to get us to that point. Wheww long post.