Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stonewall 2.0? Gay Activism 4.0?

Stonewall 2.0.
Is that what Saturday might be?
10:30 a.m. PST / 1:30 p.m. EST.
Decide for yourself.
The original call is here.
And the central organizing site is here.

But just like the mongo demonstrations we've seen in California since Nov. 4, Saturday's national protest-o-rama is being organized via Facebook, text-messaging, Twitter, blogs, RSS and e-mail. Totally grassroots. Totally fascinating. And I suspect it will be big.

Maybe Stonewall was Activism 1.0, ACT UP was Activism 2.0, the failed corporate activism of HRC and No On Prop 8 was Activism 3.0, and now we are witnessing Activism 4.0 being born.

It's virtually impossible to know you're experiencing history in the making when you're right in the middle of it. But our present generation with their SMS texting and their Twittering (aka "tweeting") and their Facebooking are mad as hell over this, and it's lookin' to me like they're not going to take it anymore.

I sense the power could be shifting, from the suit-and-tie professional activists with their offices, their access, their press releases and their catered receptions, to the grassroots. And come to think of it, what was Obama's victory but the victory of the grassroots?

So, if what I think might be happening is happening, the timing makes total sense. I guess we'll know Saturday once we get back from the events and log on and see what happened across America.

Oops, see, I'm still stuck in the past. Many of you will have your iPhones with you and will track it in real time. Or you'll be tweeting each other from start to finish. I just went to Twitter.com and clicked on "Watch a Video!" in the upper-right-hand corner and now I know what tweeting is. Apparently it was designed to report such things as, "I'm mowing the yard" or "I'm playing canasta with grandma" or "I'm shopping for shoes now at The Galeria." But it can also be used to say, "I'm heading to 6th and Upas RIGHT NOW for the big Prop 8 demo." As long as you don't exceed 140 characters. LOL.

Whatever all this is, it's working big time. And it's probably the most interesting thing I've seen on my beat as a gay-movement reporter since ACT UP. Ten thousand people marching for gay equality in San Diego last Saturday? Laid-back, hit-the-beach, "OMG, Muffy," dudelandia San Diego? No way. And then you tell me they did it without the leadership of the gay-activist establishment? You're kidding, right?

Except you're not. It did happen last Saturday. And also the Saturday before that, before the election. And it's been happening all up and down the state.

And on this Saturday, in California alone, it is set to happen in Bakersfield, Chico, Colton, Costa Mesa, Delano, Escondido, Eureka, Fairfield, Fresno, Irvine, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Moreno Valley, Napa, Oakland, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Pomona, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Stockton and Ventura. And that's just as of today. With the speed of "viral" organizing, the list could be twice as long by Saturday.

History in the making...?

P.S.: I had to LOL. I just checked the Web site of the ├╝ber-establishment San Diego LGBT Community Center and there is nothing there about Saturday. There is, however, a lovely sponsorship ad from Nordstrom. There you have it. In a nutshell.

Update: I'm quoted talking about this stuff in today's San Diego Union-Tribune. A slight correction: I said "viral efforts," not "viraling efforts." But that's OK. We dead-tree media types are on a steep linguistic learning curve here. After all, I didn't know what "tweeting" was until three hours ago...
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