Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why Stonewall 2.0 isn't fizzling...

Some bloggers and others have suggested that the "Stonewall 2.0" phenomenon is petering out. "Join the (diminishing) Impact," said Peter Staley. Dan Savage jumped in saying Join The Impact's followup events to Nov. 15th's massive national demos have been weak. Everyone involved in the Stonewall 2.0 phenomenon should read both critiques (click the bolded names above). But Stonewall 2.0 isn't fizzling...
That's because Stonewall 2.0 already happened. Stonewall itself lasted three nights in 1969, but it set the stage for much that came after it. Stonewall 2.0 lasted, at minimum, 11 days -- and, I suggest, set the stage for much that will come after it.

In David Carter's book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, one Michael Fader told Carter: "We all had a collective feeling like we'd had enough of this kind of shit. ... Everyone in the crowd felt that we were never going to go back. It was like the last straw. It was time to reclaim something that had always been taken from us. ... There was something in the air, freedom a long time overdue, and we're going to fight for it. It took different forms, but the bottom line was, we weren't going to go away. And we didn't."

Sound familiar?

Stonewall 2.0 may or may not be inextricably wed to Join The Impact, the viral entity that coordinated the massive, 300-city, 50-state demos on Nov. 15, but what happened from Nov. 5 to Nov. 15 in California and across the country indisputably fired up a new generation of activists and lit a fire under complacent, comfortable older generations. It was a 2.0 moment -- different from the gay marches on Washington, the AB 101 protests, the White Night Riots and other post-Stonewall historical moments precisely because it took place from coast to coast and border to border, and because the method by which it was organized (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, e-mail, text-messaging) can be reactivated in minutes whenever the moment strikes.

We all had a collective feeling we'd had enough of this crap and it was time to reclaim something that had been taken from us. And now we know we have the ability, the tools, and the activist masses to fight back on cue. Any future events organized by Join The Impact may or may not look or feel like Nov. 15, but the U.S. GLBT population turned a corner from Nov. 5 to 15. It may take a couple of years before it's fully clear what all happened during those 11 days, but it did happen, and things are different now. Lots of things. Not the least of which is the truly diminished authority of Equality California, the Human Rights Campaign and other snappily dressed fortysomething and fiftysomething gay leaders who utterly failed to lead in the campaign against Proposition 8.
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