The ‘Yes for Prop 8’ campaign were better prepared and swift in their assaults. The ‘No on Prop 8’ campaign… Well, let’s just say they weren’t ready. In fact, their approach was too safe and ineffective. But the biggest fallout in the campaign was the failure to connect groups and organizations serving people of color.
Throughout the campaign, communities of color were left out of the conversation. It was just assumed these communities would climb on board and fight for equality. That lack of outreach became our Achilles’ heel and the rest in history.
Forward to now… In several states, we’re seeing the rise of anti-LGBT legislation in the guise of “religious liberty” and “bathroom” bills. Their attack is strong, relentless, and, at times, better organized. It’s amazing to see how effective they are at conning people whether about protecting their religious freedom or safeguarding their child from the scary person hiding in a toilet stall.
Anti-LGBT activists know how to press certain buttons to start an uprising. On our side, we’re not that savvy. It seems that equality activists are struggling to get a functioning campaign off the ground. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign are not connecting with the average person or motiving them to join the fight.
Why are we losing, when we should be gaining momentum? Sadly it seems like history is repealing itself.
Long-time trans activist and writer, Monica Roberts took to her blog to express her anger over lack of outreach: “The Black LGBT community and our allies have been warning for months that action was needed in our community IMMEDIATELY or else HERO was going down to defeat. We pleaded for canvassing in our neighborhoods, pro-HERO ads on Houston Black radio stations and hard hitting attacks to destroy the only card our haters had to play in the bathroom meme,” she wrote.
“We also needed trans people of color front and center attacking the meme instead of being almost invisible for this entire campaign, but once again the Houston Black LGBT community was ignored, and this time the whole city will pay for Houston Unites’ lack of vision and the milquetoast campaign that was run.”
Once again, these efforts were in vain because people of color were not a part of the discussion. When will these organizations realize that without diverse voices at the table these campaigns are doomed? Similar to a presidential election, one cannot win without minority voters and voices.
These organizations have to build bridges within communities of color, and not at the last minute. There has to be a collective effort to engage with community leaders from the beginning. LGBT organizations like Houston Unites or Equality NC have to be open to new leaders at the table.
The absence of people of color within these organizations sends a strong message to the community. Without diverse representation, why would any people of color take the organization’s mission seriously? Equality organizations should know this by now. There are no excuses to fall into the same trap over and over again.
Anti-LGBT activists have their plans intact. They seem to know how to reach out to communities of color and gain their trust with ease.
So how long will it take for our groups and our community to realize that without inclusion, we are destined to not only lose the battle, but to lose allies for future campaigns?