Waymon Hudson

Surprise! Poll Shows Different Strategies Needed to Win LGBT Equality

Filed By Waymon Hudson | March 24, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: direct action group, LGBT civil rights, lobbying, politicians, strategy, Victory Fund

The strategy debate in our movement is one of the most heated you can have. Mention an idea of how to move our goals forward (or try to set a goal) and you'll get push-back from every side. From backroom deals and lobbying to direct action and street protests, the "best way forward" is something we can never agree on.

And that's a good thing.

According to the latest poll from the Victory Fund, 63.2% of those in the LGBT community surveyed think that all different strategies are needed in our march for equality:


It's clear that most in the community can agree on only one thing- there's no single way forward. We need every tactic and tool in our toolbox to get things done.

It's interesting that after "All of the Above Strategies", elect more LGBT and pro-LGBT politicians is the next highest ranked (at 20%). I've written extensively on how a local LGBT politician can move equality forward on a larger scale. Having out politicians at a local level push pro-equality initiatives, which give ammunition (and to be blunt: cover) for politicians higher on the political scale to make moves. It shows they have the support of their constituents if local municipalities pass pro-equality resolutions and laws. It makes that vote for equality and leadership a little easier if they are on the fence. We also can actually change the votes on state and national levels by pushing sitting lawmakers, challenging incumbents, and running our own candidates.

shapeimage_1.pngIt's also telling that "professional & grassroots lobbying" and "direct action & civil disobedience" are on equal footing in the community. They are completely linked, despite what some might say.

Lobbying efforts are extremely effective, but need the energy, momentum, and attention that direct action provides. During the early days of HIV/AIDS crisis, direct action and protest brought much needed attention to the cause, which allowed lobbying efforts to take place. Without the direct action link, the crisis would have continued to be swept under the rug for years.

The other role that all of these strategies have is to keep each other in check. The lobbying efforts keep elected officials in check on the right path, while direct action keeps the energy and momentum moving so the lobbyist work at a quicker rate than they might do otherwise. Direct action reminds lobbying groups that they work for the community and for actual goals and accomplishments, not just access to power.

National_Equality_March_2009.jpgNone of these strategies are effective on their own. All are a part of how our community must move forward.

That doesn't mean we don't need to still have internal debates and struggles with each arm of the movement. What it does mean is that we shouldn't try to quash or destroy any of those arms. It may make some of the professional lobbying group uncomfortable to see direct action, but they shouldn't try to put out the fire and passion of these activists that garner our cause attention and show how deeply we feel about our fight for equality. At the same time, protesters have to realize that the way our political system is set up, we need access to lawmakers and people lobbying to push the legislation within the system. And above all, we must install our own political leaders that will work from within to push our equality agenda and be our voice as well.

These are all different paths to the same goal. Choose the one you are passionate about and work as hard as you can to accomplish your goals. The beauty of our movement is that there is a place for everyone. You have to find your path and just do something.

There's plenty of work to be done.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

This is way too sensible and no fun... so probably won't get a bunch of comments... but did spread it!

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 24, 2010 6:29 PM

I am so glad to see how you tied the above methods together, Waymon. I've said it before, "Everyone an activist as they see fit."

I can hear AndrewW now.

"But Waymon, what EVIDENCE do any of us have that these methods actually work? EVIDENCE NOT POLLS"

Cogency beats pedantry every time.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 24, 2010 6:42 PM

LOrion, I got a visual from one paragraph of that story and I'm having a hard time typing I'm laughing so hard.

It's interesting that after "All of the Above Strategies", elect more LGBT and pro-LGBT politicians is the next highest ranked (at 20%).

I'm guessing that's because it's an online poll of people who follow the Victory Fund's site, and the Victory Fund is dedicated to getting LGBT pols elected.

"the "best way forward" is something we can never agree on."

Maybe because it has never been presented.

Everything we do today in the LGBT Movement has been done repeatedly for the last 40-50 years. It's all the same.

The good news is we are now beginning to insist on accountability for ALL tactics, methods, strategies and organizations.

We don't actually KNOW what works - we just think it does. We listen to people who either 1) did this 40 years ago or 2) make a living as an LGBT advocate. Neither is evidence.

Every business, industry, team and organization in the world routinely analyzes tactics and strategies. We never have. Instead we just keep "trying everything" with the nebulous goal of "one of these days."

After 40 years, we can be honest and objective and figure out what actually works. That's the starting place. We have a long history of sending people down a path of frustration and then we wonder why less than 10% of our community does anything.

If a tactic really IS effective, evidence should be easy to provide. We should stop arguing about tactics without having any evidence. Fresh evidence. Something from the last 20 years.

The World has changed.
America has changed.

Now, it's out turn. If we want to win.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 24, 2010 11:04 PM

AndrewW, the kind of evidence you keep harping on and on about doesn't exist because it can't. No one thing causes a mind or a vote to change (e.g. We just witnessed Stupak holding up an entire piece of legislation due to a specific religious conviction)(e.g.x2 we have Democratic legislators convincing others to vote for HCR even if they lose in November because it is the right thing to do). We have closeted gay Members of Congress who vote anti-gay because they think that is what their constituents want. Others go a different route.

How do you provide empirical evidence for effects such as this? Hire research psychologists? It would be impossible to quantify or qualify. Especially because it would be difficult to place the results in a time frame relative to a specific outcome.

You've ignored examples from struggles led by Dr. King, Gandhi, etcetera.

You cannot even convert your own bloated mono-idea, your obsessive mono-meme into a single practical action for anyone to take. While simultaneously cutting down every idea presented on TBP.

You are like a one-man "Party of No."

Now why not be a good boy and give it a rest. Or at least go sell crazy somewhere else.

Here's an example for you to analyze:

During the last 30 years we have given HRC $550 million to "lobby" the US Congress. Not a single Member of Congress has changed their mind about LGBT-issues. One Senator, Chris Dodd, decided to change his position on same-sex marriage after he decided NOT to run for re-election. He's also from the gay-friendly State of Connecticut.

We've spent 58 years lobbying Senator Robert Byrd with no effect.

The only time we see a politician change their mind is when their constituents change their minds. It's based on polling data. But, we don't lobby constituents.

After having spent $550 million (just with HRC) on lobbying with no results, do you want to continue that investment? Does that make sense to you?

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 12:58 AM

AndrewW I am not interested in reading posts from you where you cut-n-paste from your prior comments on TBP.

I am telling you that you need PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING.

This LGBT-Equality-Industry poll doesn't address the issue of effectiveness, of tactics or strategies, but rather what we "think" is effective.

"Readers" of the Victory Fund's Smart Brief newsletter don't represent "our community" or any analysis of tactics. If would help if we actually thought about these tactics and determined if they had any real value. After 40 years, asking for some proof or evidence is the least we can do, if we want to win.

How would it have turned out if the choices included "None of The Above."

Some on this website want to reject the idea of accountability for tactics and I suspect they are employed in the LGBT-Rights industry, because anyone who really wants our full equality and rights would welcome accountability.

It is important to substantiate what actually works and what doesn't. For my purposes, it isn't about competition for either donations or attention, as is rampant in our community, but an effort to figure out how to win.

----- ----- ----- -----

After rereading Waymon's words above, it appears HE has concluded we do not need accountability, we need "everything." Ignoring the effectiveness of our tactics and strategies of our movement only delays our equality.

Telling people to "just do something" leaves out any effort to determine what actually works.

Why waste people's time, energy and money?

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 12:45 AM

This LGBT-Equality-Industry blog post doesn't address the issue of quantifying and qualifying effectiveness, of tactics or strategies, but rather that we "obsess" over effectiveness.

"Readers" of the Victory Fund's Smart Brief newsletter do represent "our community" in a cross-section on analysis of tactics. It would help if AndrewW actually thought about how to quantify effectiveness before lecturing everyone else about it.

Andrew wants to reject the idea of quantifying effectiveness for tactics and I suspect he is obsessive compulsive, because anyone who really wants our full equality and rights would welcome diversity of views and honest questions about the practical outcomes of such quantification rather than obsessive, non-productive navel gazing.

It is important to understand what motivates Andrew. It's about obsessing over mono-memes for either respect or attention, as is rampant in our community, but not an effort to figure out how to win.

----- ----- ----- -----

After rereading Andrew's words above, it appears HE has concluded we need accountability, we need "effectiveness." Ignoring personal accountability on his own part, his unwillingness to respond to others' posts while posting rebuttals to everyone's pontificating his own views of our tactics and strategies of our movement only derails our blog conversations.

Telling people to support only his approach of "accountability" and "effectiveness" leaves out any effort to determine what actually works. It is a sign of monomania.

Why waste people's time, energy and mentation?

Hopefully, others will treat the issue of accountability with some thoughtful consideration.

Some are simply protecting their turf and income. Our equality and how we achieve it and much more important.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 1:05 AM

Hopefully, you will treat the issue of how to answer others' posts with some thoughtful consideration.

You are simply projecting your obsessions and psychological issues. Our equality and how we achieve it is much more important.

Read the recent news and you can see the best strategy for gaining LGBT rights:

"Ex-Convicts Are Getting a Big Break in California"

"Bank of America to reduce mortgage principal for some homeowners."

And many, many more stories.

Felons are being allowed freedoms they never had in California in order to save money in California. Homeowners are being allowed to violate their mortgage terms to enable big banks to still make money on them. It goes on and on. In the U.S. everything is about money.

IMO most strategy for LGBT should focus on costing our opponents as much as possible. Everyone who is able should sue if treated unfairly by employers. We should make the political campaigns of conservative bigots cost them dearly by funding their opponents. Publish the names of officials who enforce DADT making it hard for them to get jobs once they leave their military jobs. Make the IRS spend a fortune to enforce bigotry on married gay couples. Destroy the profits the leadership of bigoted organizations like the Mormons make by pointing out their hypocrisy. Fight to end the non-profit status of churches that promote bigotry outside their church walls.

I want to see the funds drained from the Mormon church and other religious bigots. I want to see companies that practice bigotry go out of business due to lack of business and the cost of lawsuits. Make people hurt financially and we'll win.

Thank you Justin and others for realizing what I did weeks if not months ago that Andrew is not helpful and may not have motives that are good for this cause. He never offers solutions just says "it does not work". I am glad these posts are being allowed as one I wrote recently was deemed to personal although it said about the same things. Bottom line, Andrew's thinking, which he is entitled to have, is counter productive to the purpose of this site. Should he be banned? I am not saying that at all. But he must have nothing better to do with his life.

Bill Greeves | March 25, 2010 11:19 AM

I believe we should employ the Stupak stategy and presssure Obama like he did. A number of supporting voices could get written directive on equality as he did on the budget agenda, with his issues on abortion.

I have made a sizable investment in figuring out what works and what doesn't work in the LGBT Movement and I will continue to do so. I won't risk that investment on the careless and lazy refusal to accept responsibility.

Our first step is to embrace accountability and stop acting like all we can do is "throw enough at the wall and hope it sticks." We're much smarter and much more creative than that.

This repeated rejection of community-wide responsibility on the part of leaders and organizations (I suspect mostly promoters earning a living "fighting") continues to hold us back.

We have a finite amount of resources and we must learn to focus our attention on only effective tactics and create a cohesive strategy that will unite our community. The 90% of our community that does not participate is our biggest problem. We won't get their help by being foolish with their time or their money. We owe them thoughtful consideration and creative thinking.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 1:55 PM

I think AndrewW's issues may be psychological in nature.

I only have a B.A. in Psychology but the obsessive, aggressive compulsivity of Andrew's posts TBP wide, combined with his unwillingness (or is it incapacity?) to respond to anyone else's questions along with his unwillingness to identify himself and share any special qualifications in LGBT activism he purports to have, his insinuations about donating money to various causes and studies, makes his issues present as psychological in nature.

Andrew, since you are so knowledgable about what we should all do or not do, maybe you can support a statement with evidence from what you said above. You said we have been lobbying Senator Robert Byrd for 58 years. Who was lobbying him for GLBT causes the first 20 years of that time?

You also said "I have made a sizable investment in figuring out what works and what doesn't work in the LGBT Movement and I will continue to do so." What exactly have you contributed with your investment? In all that time what have you learned and why do you not seem to want to answer that? Lastly are you a part of the LGBT community or do you at least want us to succeed? It does not seem so.

Over that past 15 years I have contributed more than $3 million to several organizations. I no longer contribute to HRC or GLAAD, because I don't believe they are effective. I don't contribute to the Task Force for the same reason.

The only contributions I continue to make are for local or statewide efforts.

For the last year I have invested a lot in an effort to determine why we don't have an effective movement. This effort seeks to introduce accountability into the LGBT-Advocacy community. If that is not possible, not only will my investment end, but that of many others.

The reasons for this are two-fold. First, participation in our movement, by members of our community, has declined steadily for the past 15 years. Less than 10% our community participates. Second, focus group research I conducted on non-participants (the 90%) demonstrated an awareness on the part of those individuals that included the understanding that the tactics employed by the LGBT-Advocacy didn't seem effective and that the lack of a "strategy to actually win was absent."

I held more than two dozen meetings in cities across the country and discussed the current state of our movement and any potential ideas to re-ignite an effort that would rekindle interest, primarily that 90% that is disinterested. That effort is ongoing. But, what is very clear is that we will not ignite a real, sustainable movement unless people believe we can win.

I have invested in several ideas and new campaigns, but I will not fund them unless the community embraces accountability. I am prepared to make a very large investment in a new strategy.

You have probably seen from these comments that most people reject the idea of accountability or providing some evidence or support for an idea or tactic. That must end. We must agree to be honest and objective.

I remain positive about that happening. Recently activists have been demanding accountability from HRC and certain politicians. If they can demand accountability from others, they can accept it themselves.

I am very committed to achieving equality. I make a living in businesses. I am never going to be compensated for my efforts - it is my gift, done my way. I hope others make the same efforts to figure out our struggling movement and determine what is actually effective/valuable, and helps us win.

I hope I have answered your questions. I appreciate your comment.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 10:33 PM

Now that you have made a slight effort to behave with integrity and honesty towards other readers of this blog, perhaps you will continue this trend by answering a couple of simple questions DIRECTLY, question by question, WITHOUTthe use of limited examples.

How does one quantify and qualify effectiveness and accountability within a political/social movement?

What metrics would you suggest beyond simple transparency?

How does one quantify and qualify effectiveness and accountability within a political/social movement?

That's a good question Juston and you are asking for mathematical proof. While that is possible, the first question is simple logic.

We know these stunts create awareness and inspire certain feelings about an issue. We need to ask if we need that attention or if people already know about our struggle. Data indicates that 96% of adults in America are aware of our struggle. If that's the case, then what do these stunts accomplish? They become simple expressions of anger or frustration (understandable) but are they effective? There is considerable research that most people see these expressions as "complaining." Does complaining help us? The answer to that question is a resounding "no."

In order to quantify results you would need to have some people that support complaining, and we do not see that. In fact, the majority of our own community does not like these public displays of frustration.

What metrics would you suggest beyond simple transparency?

Ultimately, there is some very important math for all members of the LGBT Community. The total number or percentage of Americans that support our equality is the secret to our success. During the last 4 decades the number of people who "believe we are morally wrong" has declined dramatically. This is a reflection of changing society and the decline in "religious intensity" (importance).

Polling data demonstrates that a very clear majority of Americans under the age of 35 do not have negative opinions of homosexuality. It also appears, based on the research I've conducted, that nearly two-thirds of Americans would support our full equality - if asked.

This data is very encouraging. The question becomes HOW do we get people to stand with us?

We lost in Maine, not because there was majority opposition - in fact polling demonstrates the opposite - we lost because of turnout. So, the challenge is getting fellow citizens to stand with us, to make it known they support us.

Polling data is the best way to demonstrate that. Many people, when they engage in a personal conversation with a member of our community, even if they disagree with homosexuality, will support our equality. By enrolling these people we create a majority - not based on homosexuality, but on equality.

We NEED people to join us. Therefore, when any tactic is used, we must determine if it adds to our ranks. Does it help people understand our struggle? Does it invite people to join us and support equality?

Acts of civil disobedience and protest clearly create attention, but to what end? Do these acts encourage or inspire people to join us and if so, how?

That's where the problem is. I have not found any evidence that these activities encourage or inspire anyone to actually "join" us. I suggest that a tactic is effective if it adds support to our community and our movement.

If someone is suggesting a tactic, they need to provide an explanation of how "attracting attention" with public demonstration adds to our support, otherwise it is simply generating "attention." If attention is valuable, promoters must explain "why."

Unfortunately, the debate has been reduced to HRC versus activists and it should be lobbying versus direct action, without the emotional attachments or financial interest of the promoters. I'm not in the LGBT_Advocacy business and I never will be. I'm not an activist, either. I'm just a guy that has spent a considerable amount of money and time to figure out how to win.

We'll never create a winning strategy until we agree to hold all tactics, methods and strategies accountable. At the very least promoters need to present how they benefit our movement. It seems we keep falling into "right and wrong" debates, when simple comparisons of effectiveness would be much better. I'm not interested in negotiating-to-mediocrity, I am interested in making a successful investment in winning our full - that requires supporting the best, verifiable tactics and strategies. We shouldn't be guessing, we should simply be honest and objective - and hold everyone and everything fully accountable.

Than-you for the questions.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 26, 2010 12:43 PM

AndrewW, I agree that logic appears simple when it's in your head, but my inquiry pertains to things outside of your head where they get a bit more complex.

I asked you, How does one quantify and qualify effectiveness and accountability within a political/social movement? That is a HOW question Andrew, not a WHY question. You then write "...you are asking for mathematical proof. While that is possible, the first question is simple logic." HOW is it possible? You acknowledge my point then avoid answering it and devolve to your usual tactic of cutting-n-pasting of your prior comments on TBP. Your inability to answer it or other questions is one of the reasons people on this blog do not take you seriously and in fact consider you a charlatan or a troll or a head case.

You write, "There is considerable research that most people see these expressions as "complaining." Please provide me this data without your commentary on it. A link would be sufficient.

You also write, "In order to quantify ... frustration." Your reply is yet another obvious attempt to squirm out of answering. Activist efforts can be quantified based on effects generated, be it fundraising efforts, contact information captured, attendance at events, polling, coverage in news sources, blogs, reposting of news items, feedback from end-users of media sources, etcetera. One then measures those effects against results obtained which is what? What? How does one link specific activist efforts to specific political outcomes within a designated time frame?

Your response was mocking me and everyone else on this blog who questions your logic, viewpoints and manners.

I consider my first question avoided by you.

As for my second question you write, "This data is very encouraging. The question becomes HOW do we get people to stand with us?" And then again you show your true colors.

You support grass roots activism, great. That is a good thing. It is hardly breaking news to admit that strong local activism across the nation along with centralized coordination helps a cause move forward. But my second question was about metrics. Imagine you are sitting at the Board meeting of an LGBT activist group and you need to create a way of measuring effectiveness and accountability within your organization. How do you do that? What is your method? You don't know do you?

In the end, when I read your comments, you seem to support coming out to friends, family and co-workers as THE primary political effort LGBT persons should engage in: "Many people...will support our equality." This is hardly breaking news either.

You said "...Over that past 15 years I have contributed more than $3 million to several organizations."

I do not believe you. Anyone who donated more than $200,000 a year for 15 years, who was involved in LGBT activism to the extent you claim, would be far more knowledgeable and far less repetitive about these matters than you are. And your unwillingness to reveal your identity, while not proving my assertions do provide evidence. The fact that you seem to devote a great deal of time to TBP indicates you have nothing better to do. Which again is evidence against your claims of being an "insider." If your are an insider I think you must have been tossed out or shunned somehow.

I think you are a charlatan, a troll or a head case.

Whatever your motives for posting on TBP you behave in an obsessive and compulsive manner and are completely oblivious to the fact that, after all of your efforts, you have no support on this blog. You are without a doubt a Thread Bully. All of which is very unbecoming.

Let's make this easier for you:

1. I do not support "grass-roots activism" that ONLY seeks to generate attention. We don't need attention, we need results.

2. GetEqual's stunts are only directed at getting attention. That attention doesn't lead to real results - getting people to join us. I'm a gay man and even I don't care if they're angry. I want to know how to win, not that a few people are angry. It doesn't help. If you can prove it does, you would have by now.

3. I don't care if you believe what I have done, it makes no difference to me. I did not resort to childish name-calling, like you have.

4. We need people to join us. HRC is not doing that, your activists - with their publicity stunts - are not doing that. Nobody has provided any evidence of a connection between angry protest and people supporting us.

5. I am not on this Blog to "gain support." I comment here to discuss what I believe is important:

A. We need accountability for all tactics and methods.

B. We need a strategy to actually win, not just keep fighting.

C. We need to inspire the 9 out of 10 people that are NOT participating.

I am investing in that outcome. I don't need permission

Nothing you've said here contributes to better LGBT advocacy or our troubled movement.

If you ever find some evidence that these stunts are effective, please share that. Until then, please try to make helpful comments. If you have the time, please try to find solutions. Real solutions.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 26, 2010 9:31 PM

laughs then yawns

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 10:45 PM

C'mon AndrewW. Answer those questions.

Rann and Juston (among others, possibly):

I didn't say anything "doesn't work." I said "before we invest our time and energy, promoters have a responsibility to prove something DOES work." ALL the evidence I have seen, says it is a waste of time and energy. Perhaps they have some compelling evidence.

If it makes you happy to try to twist words, have fun - but the first issue for our community is to decide whether or not we embrace accountability.

I suppose it's fine if you don't provide any evidence or support and you simply follow blindly, but if Cleave or Jillian or GetEqual or even the Courage Campaign can provide any evidence that this Petition stunt has any effect on minds or votes - let's see it.

I didn't suggest a Petition.

Last September, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission delivered a Petition to "Stop Healthcare Legislation" to the US Congress.

It contained 1.2 million signatures.

How effective was that petition?


With 170 million registered voters in the US it seems reasonable that any Petition with less than 17 million (10% of the voters) doesn't really mean anything.

Since the Petition is directed at Pelosi, should we focus on voters in HER district? There are 300,000 voters in her District. It might be effective to get more than 150,000 of them. She'd notice that. How's that coming along.

Let us know when you have any factual support for a "petition drive." At least tell us how many people need to sign for it to have any effect.

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 3:46 PM

I think you find this site helpful Andrew:


Enough guys- I'm going to start TOS-ing comments when they get personal or off topic.

Keep everything to the topic at hand and and stop with the personal attacks. Thanks!

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | March 25, 2010 4:23 PM

Message received Waymon. My apologies and I will back off and return to ignoring Andrew