“Bouncing Off the Walls”
Welcome to my WebLog. (I won’t call it a “b–g”;
I don’t like the word.) Way too much information about my
life, my thoughts, my fears, and my ever-evolving politics. For
those of you who care (or for those who just accidentally found this
page due to a web search).
5:03 pm / Friday, March 9, 2007
Pride and Politics and Prejudice
[This was originally written on and before July 6, 2006, but never posted for various reasons, mostly because I stopped doing this writing for several months. I’ve revised it to reflect the current situation.]
At the end of June was Seattle’s Pride weekend. The 2006 event was thoroughly laced through with community politics. The short version of things is that the local Pride committee changed the parade route and celebration site away from the traditional route on Broadway (through what is usually thought of as the gay neighborhood), ending at Volunteer Park, to a downtown route on 4th Avenue, ending at the Seattle Center. A second parade and celebration was set up by those opposed to the move, occurring on Saturday night on the traditional route, ending at Volunteer Park.
Rumors abounded about the background for the move. The information available to the public at the time (and nothing has changed since then to clarify matter) – from various sources – was tainted by politics and rumor and outright lies, such that I couldn ’t tell what was accurate and what was not. Did a sponsor pull out because they were blackmailed? Did the committee members force the move for personal financial gain? Did the city prevent the committee from using the traditional celebration site? Would the absence of parade-induced business for that one day significant to the Broadway businesses?
For the past few years, there has been a Leather Contingent in the Pride parade. There was one again in 2006, but it was massively under attended (in terms of marchers). Ostensibly spearheaded by Seattle Men in Leather, the SML members in attendance numbered only 3: the organizer, one local titleholder, and one national titleholder. There were also some marchers from Seattle Women of Leather, the Wet Spot, and the Goth community. (It should also be noted that the Leather Contingent, via the luck of the draw, was in the last 10% of the parade.)
Following this embarrassing showing, the question was asked of the Seattle Men in Leather officers and board members: Where were you? Only 3 of the 16 members of the extended board are known to have even been at the parade; one (myself) headed another contingent. A couple were working at a bar event that happens on Pride Sunday each year and would not have been present if the parade had stayed on Broadway. A couple were on vacation in Southern California, in advance of an event that didn’t start until the next weekend. At least one, along with the rest of the board of another leather organization that he heads (which includes one of the other SML board members), actively avoided the event, scheduling a mandatory meeting and an afternoon BBQ at the same time as the parade. Of the others, no word; months later, there never was any word. The mere asking of the question – with overtones of frustration, abandonment, and anger – devolved into an online yelling match, with the non-specific question being taken as being directed at individuals and personal attacks being thrown in response.
Of course, there is only so much dismay that can be leveled at individuals, even those who chose to avoid or boycott the event: we all choose to celebrate Pride in our own ways, and no one should be forced to attend a parade or march in a contingent that they don’t want to be part of. At the same time, however, Seattle Men in Leather has a mission statement: “Promoting, with power and pride, the Seattle men’s leather community.” The Leather Contingent was an opportunity to put Leather and Seattle Men in Leather in front of 200,000 people. By not showing up to be part of the contingent, regardless of the politics involved in the larger event, Seattle Men in Leather – and especially its board and officers, as the leaders of the organization – failed that mission statement.
Probably the worst piece of this was that our communication to our members, and amongst the board, was flawed. We discussed the situation at length at several meetings, including having guests present from the group putting together the competing Saturday parade and events on the Hill. Our official stance was that SML would sponsor the Leather Contingent and encourage our members to take part in it, and that we we remain neutral on the Saturday event. As the weekend approached, we were asked to have a leather presence of some sort in the Saturday event, and we acquiesced in an unofficial manner: we would not advise our members in any direction, but would let them know of the option. While that was the politically correct thing to do, it left our messaging muddy: we’re going to support the main parade, and we’re not going to not support the other one, and we’re not going to really give you any direction, so figure it out yourselves. It’s no wonder almost no one showed up in leather to either parade.
And of course, there’s the above-mentioned absence of many of our board members. During the discussions, no one expressed his intention to not attend and not participate and not support SML’s mission statement, not even those who would ultimately be out of town. Even in the weeks and days immediately prior to the event, when such decisions had undoubtedly been made already, there was no hint of it to the rest of the board. And thus we led, and the club followed, with almost no one showing up.
Come February of 2006, revelations came out in the local newspapers that Seattle Out and Proud (SOAP), the committee which put on the event, was $100,000 or more in debt to the Seattle Center and the event was in jeopardy of being cancelled outright. Although agreements have been made to allow the Pride festival to occur at the Seattle Center again this year, scaled back to just Sunday, and to address the debt, one can only imagine the political hay that will be made over this in the coming weeks and months.
Will there be two parades and two celebration sites again like last year? Will there be a division in the community again, with individuals and groups lining up to choose sides or simply opting out? Only time will tell. But I should be on the board of SML again this year, in a different officer position, and I will do everything I can to ensure that the information to our members is clear. (But I also probably won’t march with the Leather Contingent this year. If the country-western dance club Rain Country has a contingent, that’s where I will be. But at least I’m saying so up front.)
3:12 pm / Friday, March 9, 2007
Dear President Bush,
Please issue a pardon to Scooter Libby, asbolving him of responsibility for and penalties for his actions in the case revolving around the revelation of the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA oeprative.
As things stand today, Libby and his lawyers will file an appeal. It will be granted. The media and the bloggers will erupt for a brief period. The appeal trial will be scheduled for some future point. Before it and during it, the media and the bloggers will erupt again, and will continue to do so for the duration of the trial, and for a short time afterward. As citizens, we will be hearing nothing but Libby Libby Libby for days, even weeks, but there will be no new information for us. Any descisions the public will make will have already been made, has already been made.
On top of the media and blogger frenzy, Libby’s lawyers and the govenrments lawyers will bill hundreds and thousands of hours, taking in tens and hundred of thousands and even millions of dollars.
And in the end, for what? We all know how this will end up. Libby will almost certainly still be found guilty on some of the four counts -- maybe all of them -- and will face prison time as a result. And at the 11th hour, after the November elections but before you leave office, you will write a pardon for him, letting him off the hook and leaving him untouchable for whatever he may or may not have actually done. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
We all know this is how it will end up. So why not save us time and trouble and stress and millions of dollars?
Just pardon Libby now, get it over with, and move on.