“Momentum is a bitch. It’s probably the hardest thing to maintain in any activist movement. Join The Impact, the new web-based group that organized the remarkable nationwide anti-Prop 8 rallies on November 15th, is learning this hard truth pretty quickly. Their three actions since then – a postcard campaign, “Day Without A Gay”, and Saturday night’s nationwide “Light Up The Night” demos – failed to live up to this group’s early promise, or its justifiably glowing press coverage (see their New York Times profile).
“This is not meant to be a dig. I’m in love with this group’s energy, youthfulness, and commitment. I haven’t felt this inspired by gay activism since the days of ACT UP. But I’m also a big believer in learning as you go, and doing honest postmortems. Any movement that only pats itself on the back after each action it takes is doomed to failure. So at the risk of having my head bitten off, I’d like to humbly offer the following advice.
“Momentum matters. The best way to maintain it is to set and achieve attainable goals (or mini-victories that push the ball forward towards a larger victory). Thus far, Join The Impact only seems to be playing variations on a theme, attempting to recreate new versions of their clear victory on November 15th.
“As amazing as that day was, it should be kept in perspective. It was a highly emotional response to a singular event, the passing of Prop 8. As a community, we were stunned, hurt and angry. As with most emotional responses, they will tend to diminish as you get further and further away from the initial event. November 15th was a singular moment, and attempting to recreate it will be as futile as attempting to recreate the Stonewall Riots.” – Peter Staley writing on Poz.com. Staley goes on to suggest that Join The Impact focus on states where marriage equality is attainable in the next four years: New York, New Jersey, and California.
Not every idea is a good one. As personally upsetting as it can be to hear, “Um, no, we’re not going to do that…”, it sometimes needs to be said. By someone. It’s a movement, after all, not the special Olympics. Sure, it would be nice if everyone got a medal, but boosting the self-esteem of all involved isn’t the point. Or shouldn’t be. Bad ideas—ideas that squander the energy the movement should be trying to harness—have to be shot down. By someone. And if there’s no one involved at Join the Impact who can or will do it, then writers and bloggers are going to have to stop holding our fire. I’m throwing this out there now because I want to get Peter Staley’s back.