Making Things Happen

Ms. Quimby asked me, aggressively, “What flag is this?” When I told her it was the Trans Pride Flag she said, “This [rally] is about marriage equality, this is not about the trans community.”

Moments later she came back to where I was standing and continued, “You know what, you guys need to focus on what you need to do. We [HRC] are the organization that makes things happen.”

That’s from Bryan Ellicott, on his experience at the center of the HRC anti-flag controversy.

HRC came into existence in 1980, an outgrowth of certain conservative gays’ dissatisfaction with a gay rights movement that was not sufficiently top-down enough for their liking.  Sole credit is sometimes given for the founding to Steve Endean, an activist from Minnesota who, in 1974, helped to shepherd passage of a gay-only rights ordinance in Minneapolis and who vhemently opposed trans-inclusion when the Minneapolis language was proposed as the basis for a statewide bill in 1975.

He was involved with NGLTF (then just NGTF) in mid 1970s (when it was even more hostile to trans issues than it is now) and, also prior to the birth of HRC (HRCF at the beginning), was the key figure in the Gay Rights National Lobby (GRNL.)

By the time of GRNL and HRCF, Endean was an associate / henchman of David Goodstein, who had bought the Advocate from its founders and almost instantaneously transformed it from a somewhat egalitarian publication – one that no one would ever confuse with Lee Brewster’s Drag but one that was nevertheless in no way averse to trans issues – into a (monied-)male, sex-driven publication that would get complaints from readers for overdoing it on women’s issues if it even contained any lesbian content at all.

As for the T?

Well, here’s what the Advocate‘s readers could find on page 17 of the magazine’s Dec. 14, 1977 issue:


To be absolutely fair to the Advocate and Goodstein (or whoever actually wrote that; Goodstein always authored an editorial at the front of each issue, but I have seen some of these other opinion pieces carry his initials, though this one did not), I do encourage everyone to read the whole thing.  This was in the middle of the tumultuous period between the Anita Bryant-led destruction of the original Miami gay(-only) rights ordinance and the takedown of California state senator John Briggs the following year.  This opinion piece was part of a fight-back campaign against the (ostensibly-)heterosexual ‘save our children’-oids, designed to highlight how dangerous to children gays and lesbians actually were not, particularly in comparison to heterosexuals; we all now know – yes, know – that the overwhelming majority of sex crimes committed against children are perpetrated by heterosexuals and/or religious officiaries, but in 1977 the crap that Sen. Briggs spewed was still not only believable to most but actually believed by far too many.

So, yes, I hope we in 2013 can see where the Advocate was apparently going with this.

But note the second paragraph.

Anything sexually disturbing to anyone, whether actually “homosexual” or not, is usually lumped under the term “gay.”

That’s actually somewhat insightful – and, perhaps more importantly, is why “sexual orientation” in gay rights laws should be defined like this:


instead of constrictively so as to cover only “heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.”

The problem is where the op-ed went from there:

In fact, more clinically heterosexual people participate in what is still called “deviant” sexual activity, simply because there are so many more of them.  They are, after all, the statistically normative population.  This includes sado-masochism, rape, incest, child molestation, fetishes of all varieties, even transvestism and transsexualism.

The sad thing is that whoever wrote that could have made the point that I’m presuming was intended without sticking transsexualism and transvestism in the same sentence with incest and child molestation.

But then, as now, trans people were expendable – here, expendable as rhetorical tools.

Transsexuals as people?  (Oh…transvestites?  Looks like good Mr. Goodstein threw all of the acceptably-trans-for-some-purposes among the gays – drag queens – under the bus as well; I wonder how they felt.)


Its as if the authors of the hardwired exclusions in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) used that paragraph as a guide (and I won’t even mention the radphlegm trans-exterminationists and their rhetoric that is suspiciously absent from the SPLC’s hate groups list.)  And one could never draw a straight (I’m still deciding whether I’m intending that as a pun or not) line from that sort of egregiously dangerous lumping together, through HRC(F) to the ADA, eh?


The anti-LGBT amendments?

You know….

The ones that were copied into state ADAs across the country?

“By and large we’re quite pleased with it,” stated HRCF lobbyist Steve Smith of the Helms and Armstrong exclusionary amendments. “Homosexuality and transvestism and bisexuality are not disabilities and we are happy to hear that Sen. Helms has taken this position and we agree with him 100 percent.”

And why not?  If, seven years later, HRC (by then with Queen Elizabeth III but sans the F) had gotten what it wanted with a gay-only ENDA successfully tacked onto the federal DOMA statute, everyone then (and now) employed by HRC would still be deemed not to be disabled (rightly so, of course) but would nevertheless have those ADA amendments (more than) balanced out by explicit sexual orientation-based employment discrimination protections.

Trans people?


We [HRC] are the organization that makes things happen.

But not for trans people.

Against?  Sure.  But for?  I think not.

For you see, while I do hope that that Advocate op-ed of 1977 receives wide re-recognition, I’ve yet to get to what is perhaps the most disgusting thing of all re: the HRC anti-flag incident.

Refer back to the aforementioned Section 2 of 1993 Minnesota Statutes Chapter 22.

The definition of sexual orientation was one that eventually did become part of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance – late in 1975, in spite of the opposition to trans inclusion at the state house in May of that year that yielded discord that, based on everything I’ve read about it, was as ugly in the Twin Cities as the battles that persist to this day nationally because of one notable organization’s continued failure to deal with trans people in a manner that even remotely resembles good faith.

HRC’s actions against trans people during the rally at the Supreme Court were the antithesis of good faith – as have been all of its (substantively non-)responses to having its true attitude toward trans people exposed yet again.

This is the final sentence of 1993 Minnesota Laws, Ch. 22:


The HRC anti-flag incident occurred less than a week before the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the first legitimate (read: trans-inclusive) state gay rights law.

Heard anything about that from HRC?

Considering that the governor who signed it was a Republican, one might think that HRC would have touted it to the far-flung winds then and now (or does HRC only privilege Republicans over Democrats in New York?).  Oh, but wait…

Then, as now, it is one of the laws that conclusively disproved the ‘incremental progress is absolutely necessary’ claim that HRC and its defenders not only still mainline themselves but also fraudulently claim to others is not only acceptable but also necessary.

Now, I have to be fair here: I didn’t say anything about it on April 2, either.  My legitimate excuse was that, despite posting here occasionally over the last week, I was occupied with some other things.  My illegitimate excuse is that I’d forgotten the exact date myself; for some reason, I was thinking it was a week later – namely, tomorrow.

This, however, is something that I will most certainly remember:

We [HRC] are the organization that makes things happen.

The person who is given credit for founding HRC made a gay-only rights ordinance happen in Minneapolis in 1974 – and he made opposition to including trans-inclusive language in a statewide bill happen the following spring.  What he wanted to have happen was not the trans-inclusive 1993 Minnesota Statute Ch. 22, but a non-inclusive 1975 statute – and if Minnesota’s neighbor, Wisconsin, is any guide, that 1975 state law that never happened would still be gay-only if if it had happened.

Goodstein (1985) and Endean (1993) would still be dead.

And, of course, the Gay Marriage, Inc., rally at the Supreme Court would have happened exactly as it did.


HRC, after all, is the organization that makes things happen…

for everyone except trans people.

There’s a reason that HRC had no trans employees to deliver the still-not-believable to the still-not-included in the aftermath of the flag incident.


As if to prove my point that ‘making things happen’ is not inherently a good thing (at least for anyone/thing other than that actually doing the doing and personally/institutionally profiting therefrom):

Margaret Thatcher is to all women what HRC is to all LGBT people.

(And for those who are too obtuse to get it, thats not a compliment.)



  1. If you judged me on what I thought in the 70s or even the 80s, I’d be in a lot of trouble. I try to encourage people to move out of their prejudices against me (lesbian) but knowing the brainwashing I received in many areas–“race”, religion, etc., and how hard it is to stop being a knee-jerk jerk, I still try to cut people some slack about “getting it”. I imagine they thought you were opportunistly piggybacking on the marriage issue, and didn’t stop to work it out that marriage is an issue for all of us. They should have educated themselves beforehand–yes, there’s a reason it’s LGBT; you could have made sure in advance that they understood all the ramifications of marriage.
    I would be happy to connect with you in this part of the country (Solano County, CA) to move equality along.

  2. I kinda like Monica Roberts’ take on my title for this post: Making (Negative) Things Happen.

  3. […] while at the same time hunting trans folk to out them to their employers. They teamed up with their white upper-class transphobic gay leaders to defeat trans protections and to wipe the trans community from the collective memory of queer […]

  4. […] time hunting down trans folk in order to out them to their employers. They teamed up with their white upper-class transphobic gay leaders to defeat trans protections and to wipe the trans community from the collective memory of queer […]

  5. […] time hunting down trans folk in order to out them to their employers. They teamed up with their white upper-class transphobic gay leaders to defeat trans protections and to wipe the trans community from the collective memory of queer […]

  6. […] time hunting down trans folk in order to out them to their employers. They teamed up with their white upper-class transphobic gay leaders to defeat trans protections and to wipe the trans community from the collective memory of queer […]

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