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Embarrassing images from NOM’s Providence Rally

Timothy Kincaid

July 19th, 2010

When NOM’s Big Bus of Animus pulled into Providence, Rhode Island, things veered from the usual. Previously, counter-protests had been non-confrontational: Augusta’s was off-site, Manchester’s stayed a distance, and Albany’s surrounded NOMmers but did not disrupt the speakers.

Not so in Providence.

There the counter-protesters at first stood outside the anti-marriage rally and chanted, hoping to distract and annoy the speakers. And, as the equality supporters – by all accounts other than Brian Brown – outnumbered the anti-gay rallyers, this did serve to agitate them.

And some of them began to pray… more on that later.

But then the counter-protesters failed to stay united. Some went behind the speakers and began chanting and a few went up and began screaming in the face of NOM President, Brian Brown.

Not smart.

While I’m sure the young people in the picture certainly felt at the time like They Told Him!!, all that really happened is that they allowed the National Organization for Marriage to have an opportunity to capture an image that they could sell as The Militant Homosexual Activists!!being disruptive. A version of this picture – not including NOM’s “security” guys standing there unconcerned – has been making the rounds of anti-gay sites.

And this confrontation did something even worse than creating an embarrassing image, it made NOM’s Summer for Marriage Tour interesting.

Consider for a moment: you’re a nice young Catholic lady who is trying to decide what to do for the afternoon and you’ve come up with three options: finally write to Great Aunt Melba to thank her for her lovely Christmas fruitcake, pull weeds in the petunia bed, or go stand for an hour in the sun and listen to Jennifer Roback Morse and Brian Brown lecture you about marriage. Weeds seem pretty exciting by comparison.

And NOM’s circus hasn’t had much draw so far. No celebrities or prominent politicians; even Rhode Island’s anti-gay governor Don Carcieri didn’t make an appearance. It’s just mostly senior citizens and uber-religious folk and, heaven forbid, you might run into Aunt Melba.

But now suppose that there’s a possibility that you might get to confront Militant Homosexual Activists. Well, that might be interesting. Good for a story next Thanksgiving when you’re stuck sitting next to Aunt Melba, at least.

So confronting Brown was an ill-advised choice. It took an extremely boring situation and gave the press a reason to cover it and anti-gay activists a reason to bother.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t understand the emotion which led the kids to go confront Brown. Rhode Island is expected to be the next Marriage battle ground and, depending on November’s election, may have a legislative vote in 2011. I would be emotional as well.

And equality supporters were not the only ones who let their emotions cloud their wisdom. So did Pastor Jay Stirnemann of the Christ Temple United Pentecostal Church in Tiverton:

YouTube Preview Image

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, Stirnemann is “speaking in tongues,” also called Glossolalia, a religious practice is predominantly engaged in by Pentecostals and other Charismatic Christians. There are a variety of hypotheses about speaking in tongues, but most include a high level of emotionality and lower level of logic or direct communication.

Those who speak in tongues experience it as letting go of themselves and letting the Holy Spirit speak through them. Some think Glossolalia is God’s spirit within them communicating in a celestial tongue, some as a way to praise without distraction of thought or of Satanic influences (Satan being unable to understand the language), but all agree that this is a very holy experience. And they agree that speaking in tongues is an evidence that God has granted them with specific spiritual powers.

In this case, Stirnemann clearly believes that he is engaging in spiritual warfare, that his praying in tongues enables angelic forces for good to invisibly battle demonic forces for evil. His prayer is one of authority and power and he is “binding spirits of darkness.” He genuinely believes that the chanting gay people are attacking him spiritually and that his prayer is effective in defeating such attacks.

But it doesn’t matter so much exactly what it is that Pastor Jay believes, what matters is what he is doing and how it will be perceived. And NOM can’t be too happy about the latter.

The National Organization for Marriage is in many ways a Catholic lay organization. And it is rather unlikely that Brian Brown or Maggie Gallagher are comfortable in the presence of those who are praying in tongues. Nor are legislators, voters, or contributors to their cause.

Remember our young Catholic lady above. She would rather spend a whole day visiting with Aunt Melba discussing her bursitis than spend any time with “crazy people babbling nonsense.”

So in Providence, I’d have to say that both sides suffered from image issues. And remember, this whole campaign – along with the counter campaign – is crafted solely for media and public image consumption.

Going forward, the winners in the battle over image and perception will be determined by which can avoid appearing to be raging lunatics or babbling nutjobs.

Comments

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wendy
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

That WAS Brian Brown speaking in tongues. And I find YOUR article severely more damaging than a couple protestors in a hate groups faceand an abuse of your position to publicly scold anyone. You sure as hell dont see FRC scolding the NOMbies. Take this shit down and write a supportive piece and stow the canibalization and sell out.

Emily K
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

so, what can we do? how can we remedy this misstep? Or has enough damage been done that NOM has now won, and all gay people are and will be forever and ever “militant homosexualists?”

tim
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

@wendy

Project much?

wendy
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

No, that was you and your subjective “reporting”. I’m normally a devote fan but this is a terrible anti-community piece. Seriously. The opposition will love and use your piece against us. Exactly what you are accusing the two counter-protesters of doing. Rich.

Jim Burroway
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Um Wendy.

We don’t kowtow to anyone. When we see our opponents do something stupid, we call them on it.

And when we think LGBT people and supporters do something that is not constructive, we post on that.

What we DO NOT DO is engage in a Stalinist conspiracy to throw truth overboard for the sake of some ill-defined notion of “anti-community.”

There are a lot of legitimage reasons one might pull down a post: If we were so factually wrong, keeping it up is untennable, for example. Or, say, we revealed private information that put someone in danger. You know, things like that.

But frankly, I cannot think of a dumber reason to pull a post than embarrasment, unless it’s over a completely whacked out charge of being “anti-community.” Principles matter here, as does accountability. “Sell-out” occurs when you throw all of that out the window. I can’t think of anything more “anti-community” than being anti-American, and I cannot think of anything more anti-American than becoming a mouthpiece for uncritical propaganda. But what you are demanding we do is exactly that.

There will be no censorship here, nor obscuring the facts. We’ll leave that to the other guys.

Burr
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

We can’t whine about what haters dish out at our events and then turn around and do the same thing.

Hypocrisy is reserved for the bigots. That’s their mud to roll around in like the pigs they are.

Ray
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

“He genuinely believes that the chanting gay people are attacking him spiritually and that his prayer is effective in defeating such attacks.”
===============

That doesn’t match my experience with speaking in tongues but I don’t know how all people experience it.

I was a Pentecostal Holiness in a deep-in-the-sticks church and the lady who lived across the road from the church used to speak in tongues every Sunday. We kids in the church heard her do it so often, we used to mimic her. Mock really. Only two kinds of people seemed to speak in tongues 1) Urber religious visiting evangelists and 2) attention-starved people seemingly trying to distinguish themselves by the piety this “gift” supposedly bestowed on the elect of God.

Hmmp! This gal was homely as bulldog, had the most exaggerated “big hair” do I ever saw (a certain mark of Pentecostal culture) and had the intelligence of a potted plant. The evangelists were all about evil spirits and demon possession and had Elvis Pressley hair.

I agree with Tim and it’s because of the lesson we learned from the “Cross Lady of Palm Springs” episode. She was a raving lunatic and just getting her styrofoam cross knocked our of her grasp whipped the loonies into a frenzy across the nation. Stay out of their faces. Silent indignation is powerful! The umbrellas were sock-o!

AdrianT
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Screaming in the face of people is babyish – argue and ridicule, fine.

I don’t know why ‘wendy’ thinks she has the authority to represent the ‘whole community’.

I think equality protest organizers really should give anyone joining them a quick talk on principles, etiquette, and 1st amendment rights, which work both ways.

All you have to do is let them talk their nonsense – encourage more talking in tongues. Keep troublemakers like the infantile youths in the photo above, in check.

The protest the day before, with the umbrellas, and signs saying ‘do you see my love?’ was dignified and noble, it claimed the high ground, and leaves a lasting photo impression.

Dan
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

I think that, unfortunately, both sides have called attention to the hate tour, which should be languishing in media obscurity. I’m sure the people who got in Brown’s face felt right at the time, but just as you said, they’re feeding into the right-wing misrepresentation of LGBT people as militants. A large, quiet protest reflecting insight and humor would have had a much better effect, outnumbering NOM but also showing that reason and fairness are on our side.

On an encouraging note, my sense is that the minister who spoke in tongues did the most harm, and it was to NOM and their support for discrimination. This minister seemed to view us and our movement as evil and even Satanic. Most people don’t share that perception and, I suspect, view it as extreme and irrational – as do I. The minister also showed a side of conservative Christianity, exemplified by speaking in tongues, that scares a lot of people. Most folks can relate to yelling a lot better than to a demonstrative attempt to bind the forces of darkness that supposedly lurk in every Gay-Straight Alliance.

I’m pretty sure the minister isn’t Brian Brown. Brown is younger and has a fuller face; he doesn’t have the minister’s pronounced Southern accent.

David
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

So basically, Tim K, you’re saying, let’s pull an EQCA all the time.

And lose all the time.

“We don’t kowtow to anyone.”

Except to people who promote hatred of people of faith here at this blog.

“We can’t whine about what haters dish out at our events and then turn around and do the same thing.”

See above. When will anti-religion hate speech on this blog be condemned with the same fervor that this article uses?

Jim Burroway
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Except to people who promote hatred of people of faith here at this blog.

Could you name an example?

When will anti-religion hate speech on this blog be condemned with the same fervor that this article uses?

Could you define “anti-religion hate speech”?

wendy
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Yo Adriaaaaaaan, I spoke for myself. Whatev Tim. This is bullsh!t Uncle Tom crap. Seriously, if queers were running around the country screaming in babble about harnessing the forces of darkness, I’d get in their face and say “get the hate out of my state ” too. And I will. Can’t wait to see your article on the NOMblog. They’ll love it.

Dan
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

The Phelps clan once held a protest, and a group responded by dressing as angels and surrounding the protesters. Their large wings blocked the view of the protesters. I thought this respectful approach was very well done.

At another Phelps protest, counter-protesters poked gentle fun at the clan’s signs by carrying signs of their own, such as “God hates signs” and “I was promised cupcakes.” The Phelpses looked tiny, humorless, and mean by comparison.

A little speechmaking could be good, though, if it brings out responses like this minister’s. A dancing “flash mob” would draw attention, but maybe good attention. Most of the flash mobs I’ve seen were expertly choreographed and executed. I wonder how they’re arranged.

wendy
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Seriously, if queers were running around the country screaming in babble about harnessing the forces of darkness we’d probably be locked up, and when NOM and FRC come to my state with their hate group I plan on telling them to “get the hate out of my state ” too. And I will. The fact that you know its a media campaign was my point. They got great crazy video and you reduce to scolding your own. Can’t wait to see your article on the NOMblog. They’ll love it.

Mike Airhart
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

I think it’s important to understand how events in Providence transpired and who did what.

— the event was announced by a small year-old organization, Queer Action of Rhode Island

— representatives of Queer Rising, of New York, stormed the podium

— the event was not supported by the state’s largest groups, Marriage Equality Rhode Island and its R.I. Marriage Equality Coalition, which held a quiet press event on Friday

Tim, I respect your willingness to hold gay activists accountable, but I’m not sure whether you’re criticizing Queer Rising for its podium action, or QuARI for crowd control, or something else.

There is no “gay community” per se, especially in Rhode Island. There is little that binds groups or people to a common code of values or behavior. Motives and tactics vary widely among different people, as do the resources that they have available.

QuARI is a small group without the funds for umbrellas or shirts, and without the staff and security that are required to manage every group that might show up at an event whose attendance exceeded expectations. Should QuARI simply not have announced any protest?

MERI (which withheld support) has the resources to pull off an Albany-style event, but — like HRC — it is severely constrained by its broad support base, its lobbying connections, and ultimately its inability to risk offending anyone.

That’s what Rhode Island equality advocates have to work with: A highly motivated activist group that can’t be expected to control outliers, an established organization that never rocks the boat, and groups from neighboring states that stop by and help out due to the state’s proximity and very small size.

I would love to know what people think should have been done, given these resources. Personally, I think NOM deserves to be treated to a variety of tactics, and while I don’t want *every* protest to be a shouting match, I think shout-downs and die-ins are sometimes justified.

Thanks for listening.

John in the Bay Area
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy stated that the National Organization for Marriage was essentially a Catholic lay organization. What is that based on?

This organization has been extremely opaque with their financial information (to the point of violating the law). It was my impression that this group was funded by the Mormon Church (probably indirectly through mandatory voluntary contributions from Mormons directed by the bishops to pony up). If they ever comply with the law in Maine, we might even get an answer about what kind of organization this is.

cd
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

I would love to know what people think should have been done, given these resources. Personally, I think NOM deserves to be treated to a variety of tactics, and while I don’t want *every* protest to be a shouting match, I think shout-downs and die-ins are sometimes justified.

The argument in gay rights is essentially whether gay people or the anti-gay activists are the sane ones.

Sane does not mean somber or willing to be abused at all times, of course.

Timothy Kincaid
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

John,

The original organizers, most of the current leaders, much of the language, and certainly much of the organization is Catholic (which is why a Catholic priest spoke and the Pentecostals were stuck listening in the crowd). As to funding, I know that Fred says that it’s Mormon, but as far as I can tell that’s only speculation. Though I suppose It could well be a Mormon funded Catholic endeavor, like the Hawaii group was.

I guess we’ll know when they finally decide to obey the law.

Timothy Kincaid
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

David,

“We don’t kowtow to anyone.”

Except to people who promote hatred of people of faith here at this blog.

I’m sure there are a few folk here who would argue exactly the opposite, that we are too accomdating to people of faith and hostile to atheists.

Regan DuCasse
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

Since there is no audio, no way of knowing how long this exchange was or what was said, I’m not sure there is much that NOM won’t do with it that they do with anything.
They complain about EVERYTHING. A man who brought two docile dogs was reported as if he’d brought attack dogs that were snarling and about to bite the NOM’ers.

They report each and every little thing as attributable to being anti family, anti marriage or anti Christian or some kind of attack, without any evidence of the kind. Without anyone else really making an assessment for themselves.

Brian Brown is trying to play like he’s not provocative and this whole tour isn’t about doing something that profoundly and negatively affects people he doesn’t even care to know.
He’s not exactly ignoring these young people, he’s bent over in their faces despite the podium between them.

I think we’re damned if we do or don’t.

Pliny
July 19th, 2010 | LINK

What does it say about me that I’m tempted to grab the Stirnemann video and auto-tune the crap out of it with a techno beat?

andrew
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

The anti-gay activists get a certain amount of leeway because societies often yield to a vocal minority, especially when they’re afraid to criticize someone for “beliefs” — after all, that opens us up to have our “beliefs” questioned. At the end of the day, those of us who believe in tolerance end up hoisted on our own petard — after all, you can’t be intolerance of intolerance without being a hypocrite, right?

I think society needs to see gays as every bit as passionate and angry, or more so, than the haters. After all, if they can come out and speak in tongues and we don’t respond to them with the same degree of passion, people will just assume that we’re either weak or don’t care enough to express ourselves and demand our rights. We need to be more vocal and confrontational, not less.

Ben Mathis
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

A routinely trounced minority not being 100% self controlled and exhibiting a bit of righteous anger when confronted with the direct concentration of their persecutors? Color me surprised! Aghast even!

I expect every single gay to be 100% cohesive in displaying Gandhi and Mother Teresa levels of patience and control and never rise to anger or voice frustration in anything other than a 1,000 word essay using 12th grade grammar and reading levels.

[In case anyone is wondering, this is all sarcasm, and I for one, as someone still young, don’t blame the counter protesters for being angry and confrontational one bit. I think sometimes the older more conservative writers of this blog mistake their personal lifestyle with some kind of universal truth everyone should follow.)

Let me just say, “F*ck, that, Noise”.

Richard Rush
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

In addition to the audio/video of the tongue-speaker, I wish we had audio/video of the podium incident. Then we could take a poll of the reactions of average people. I have no doubt that the NOM crowd would be perceived as a traveling freak show. I think most people are far more understanding of an in-your-face verbal self-defense than they will ever be of tongue-speakers.

Andrew said, “We need to be more vocal and confrontational, not less.” I tend to agree. And it’s often better yet when combined with some of the legendary gay creativity, humor, and style (such as the rainbow umbrellas), which are attributes our opponents do not possess.

Vito J. Oliver
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

It was not embarrassing. I was there. What one of us was saying is “don’t look at them when you’re talking about me, look at me.”

These people are filled with hate; the people who attended were not open to conversation. Sometimes we need to counter-protest in silence. Sometimes we need to chant. Sometimes we need to get in their face.

I want to take a moment to correct some of the information here because it really seems like not a hell a lot of you were actually there.

We were on opposite sides of the state building. This counter protest was organized by Queer Action in Rhode Island. The three of us who “stormed the podium” are members of NYC based Queer Rising and we happened to have been in Boston and decided to attend. We checked with QA’s plan and was informed by Heather (make note of this name), one of the main organizers, that they were to march around, stand 200 ft behind NOM and chant. See… the chanting was already apart of the original plan.

One of their members was against confrontation but a good bulk of them wanted to be confrontational. They decided to NOT interact. After we marched around I realized we weren’t actually doing anything but a few pretty chants in very white-light fashion. It was fruitless. I decided to move and just stand in the front with my pride flag. Something happened however. I saw my other two counterparts moving to the front on their own. We did this all individually and nothing was pre-planned. We just did it. There was a moment where we all looked at each other and just went up to the podium. Again, not pre-planned.

Yes, we “stormed” the podium. It is a lie of NOM that the police did nothing. They did eventually come and tell us we had to move away. What did this actually do? Well, about twenty minutes later the counter protest which was in the back got some nerve and moved around and stood in front of NOM on the foot steps. We were no longer in the back; we were now facing them.

So you can sit there and say it was embarrassing but you tell me, if the KKK or a neo nazi group when to rally in an all black or all Jewish neighborhood would blacks and jews be quiet? No! They would be loud. Our apathy and unwillingness to stand up and argue back is what is hurting us as we kow-tow to the wishes of Gay, Inc.

Every protest is different. Some require more direct action and some require silence. At that moment, it required confrontation. Heather has come out in support of our action and has said we have inspired her group to get more active. You can say I (the one in the blue shirt) embarrassed us, I say the spontaneous action may have helped to get the Rhode Island GLBT community more willing to fight.

The only problem Queer Action had with it, which isn’t really a problem, was that it was out of towners. I partially agree with them. I would have preferred to have Rhode Islanders up there but if they were unwilling to do it, I did it. If these people want to spew their hate, they’re going to be met with resistance. If my resistance is a problem for you, well you’ll just going to have to get used to it. I’m here, I’m Queer, and I’m f*cking pissed off. No more Mr. Nice Gay.

Paul in Canada
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

I recently watched the documentary on Harvey Milk (The Times of…) narrated by Harvey Fierstein (sp?). I’m reminded of the Castro (and all of SF) response to his assassination – a quiet ‘march’ holding candles. What an impact this had on the country. Thousands of gays and lesbians, and supporters/admirers of Harvey, peacefully marching in ‘protest’ – all when a violent protest could have been ‘justified’. This peaceful act brought the community (and it’s issues of gay rights) more respect and attention then did, sadly, the violence that followed the verdict of Dan White at the end of his trial.

Have a look at this piece, and tell me which has more impact! I think we should all learn something from our ‘own’ past – this is not the time to show the same animus that the anti-gays have shown us. “Let them be judged by their actions.”

Philo
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

It is appropriate, somehow, that the Mormon slot on NOM’s board of directors is held by a famous science fiction and fantasy writer (Orson Scott Card).

Vito J. Oliver
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

@Paul in Canada– Like I said, sometimes silent, sometimes chanting, sometimes in your face. I never said anything about violence.

But if we want to talk about Milk, did you documentary also talk about the White Night Riots? What about the riots that took place after Stonewall? Or before Stonewall at Compton Cafeteria and Black Cat Tavern? What about when Gays first marched down 5th avenue in NYC? These were certainly not silent. We need a mix and we need to use different tactics. This struggle is not a one size fits all.

Priya Lynn
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

I disagree that the picture makes them look better than us. You can’t see Brian Brown’s face but he’s leaning forward in a very aggressive “in-your-face” manner – he looks just as angry and militant as the lesbian protestor. The message most people will get from that picture is that there was a heated discussion going on, not that gays are angry militants and NOM is calm and reasonable.

Jim said “I cannot think of anything more anti-American than becoming a mouthpiece for uncritical propaganda.”.

I see an awful lot of Americans, primarily religious conservatives, doing just that. I think that’s pretty American.

David said ““We don’t kowtow to anyone.”

Except to people who promote hatred of people of faith here at this blog.”.

This coming from the guy who is repeatedly allowed to insist that the mere act of not believing in a god is an evil vicious attack on religious people and their freedoms.

Timothy Kincaid
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

We did this all individually and nothing was pre-planned. We just did it. There was a moment where we all looked at each other and just went up to the podium. Again, not pre-planned.

Yes, Vito, and that is exactly my point. You didn’t think, you didn’t consider any consequences, you didn’t yield to the locals, you just did it.

Pure emotion, no thought.

And as a consequence we now have a picture of you and two others screaming in Brian Brown’s face.

There are times to be silent, times to argue, times to chant, times to scream, and times for civil disobedience. I’ve done them all.

But it seems that you think that you are the one single individual on the planet best qualified to determine whether a protest should be silent, chanting, or in your face. Although the Rhode Islanders were “unwilling”, you decided that you know best.

However, the results of your decision suggest to me that you would do better to defer to those who know the situation and who will have to fight the battle after you have moved on to your next angry confrontation and left them with your mess to clean up.

Vito J. Oliver
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

I think you are fairly inaccurate here. I never said I was the only person on the planet. This is pure projection. You are not the authority on what is and what is not appropriate. The “locals” have actually thanked us for our actions. You seemed to have completely disregarded this part to prove your point. Not all of us are going to place nice anymore just because the old guard things it is the best way. Look at what happened after Stonewall when Queers got angry and started to take to the streets instead of following the old guard of Mattachine. I like the picture. I will defer to people whom I know and whom I can trust. You can focus on one thing I said and act exactly like NOM all you want. The reality is, that is what was needed for the protest. There is no mess to clean up. You’re misrepresenting what happened and what the result is.

But I don’t expect you to get it. NOM would of found anything to comment on. They went crazy in Albany with the mother and nursing and the pair of old black labs with one of the protesters. The reality is, not everyone is going to listen to you on what the best thing to do is because this is a multi-faced movement with different opinions.

And just so you know, I’m beginning to work with the people in Rhode Island and speak to them about future actions. So I’m not just walking away. It is best not to comment on something you obviously know so little about.

Given all I know today, I would do it again.

Priya Lynn
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “And as a consequence we now have a picture of you and two others screaming in Brian Brown’s face.”.

And Brian Brown appears to be screaming right back.

Priya Lynn
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Brian Brown doesn’t look like a victim here.

Timothy Kincaid
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Let me ask you, Vito: Other than your own feeling of empowerment, what was the positive that came from your confrontation?

Priya Lynn
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

I think the screaming puts the lie to Maggie’s claim that they’re not haters, this is just a polite “disagreement”

Vito J. Oliver
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

@Timothy,

I’ve already answered this. lol. But this time I will quote Heather, one of the organizers.

“We wanted to go head to head with them,” said Heather Curley from Queer Action Rhode Island. “I don’t care what NOM or the press will say the [attendance numbers are] – how they will spin it – but I was proud today. I think we had a powerful presence. I think we stood up to them. I think we irritated them and I think they lost their message a little bit today.”

From the emails we’ve been getting and the correspondence going on, the action inspired people to move to the front of NOM, to directly confront them, it has energized many in RI to want to do this more. This has all be said before. This wasn’t about me venting my frustration. This was about letting NOM know we will not be silent.

Timothy Kincaid
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Yes, that’s exactly what I thought.

Timothy (TRiG)
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

David,

When will anti-religion hate speech on this blog be condemned with the same fervor that this article uses?

What the flip? I know religious people think they should be able to ride through the marketplace of ideas in an armoured car, immune from all criticism. I know that “militant Muslims” fly planes into buildings, “militant Christians” shoot doctors, and “militant atheists” write newspaper columns. I know that an attempt to discuss religion in similar terms to, say, politics, or any other idea, is commonly seen as a vile attack. I know that bizarre claims, completely divorced from reality, cannot be mocked in polite society as long as those claims are “religious”.

In short, I know that very many religious people are touchy whining brats.

But the claim that this blog supports “anti-religion hate speech” is simply ludicrous. Even the mildest criticisms of religion are often stomped on by the administrators.

TRiG.

Wyzdyx
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Dan said: A dancing “flash mob” would draw attention, but maybe good attention. Most of the flash mobs I’ve seen were expertly choreographed and executed. I wonder how they’re arranged.

A choreographer creates a short repetitive piece and teaches it to ten people in about 10 minutes. Those 10 people go forth and each teaches the moves to ten more. Now there are 110. In some situations, you might be able to go another level and have over 1200 people in less than 45 minutes. Then the music starts….

Paul in Canada
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

Hey, why doesn’t someone throw a pie in Brian Brown’s face – that was so effective back in the day, right Anita? Come on folks….. get real!

Jessamine
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

I propose a Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey flash mob. These lyrics are begging to be reinterpreted, imo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31ZXliHbo5Q

Paul in Canada
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

@Jessamine… I just posted that to my FB page – OMG!!!!

Vito J. Oliver
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

@Paul in Canada,

Yeah because the Mattachine was so successful. Oh wait… no the Stonewall riots never happened… get facts.

Anti
July 20th, 2010 | LINK

@Wendy: Giggity.

Helen
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

At the end of the day people are talking about what Providence did. It was exciting, their numbers were huge, and they did something different. Maybe it wasn’t the best move according to some of us but it was still a move. No matter what you do NOM will spin it, Heather is right about that. They did something brave without the support from other organizations. I think it’s great and we learn from it. We then move on to the next event. Congrats Queer Action of RI and Queer Rising for not just talking, criticizing, or whining. You got up and did something.

And Hi Luis!

Will
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Wendy I TOTALLY agree with you. Here’s Timothy tashing the protestors at NOM for screaming. On another page we have Bill trashing GetEqual.

Sorry Bill and Tim the decade of sitting in the corner, waiting, and “being above it all” like good little queers is over.

If you feel the need to attack fellow gays PLEASE feel free to go and attack the HRC and Gay Inc which has failed miserably.

Jim Burroway
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Bill? Who’s Bill?

And by the way, we have criticized HRC. And we’ve praised GetEQual when they’ve done good work. Either way, we call them as we see them.

If you want brainless robots spewing unthinking propaganda, this web site is definitely not for you.

Will
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Oh Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease.

Actually I was referring to your friend Bill Browning over at Bilerico who plugged this article today over at RudePundint.

Here’s a question for you. Since talking and discussion with our “opponents” hasn’t worked, and you seem to be against civil disobedience and screaming and fighting back, then I ask you. Whats the magic bullet that we haven’t tried then Einstein that will win us our rights?

Now let me just say something. I actually like reading this site, and I do realize that this post is your opinion and you are entitled to it. Just as WE are entitled to ours or else you would have turned the comments off. But IMO YOU ARE 100 percent wrong in this case.

If we never stood up and screamed and fought back Stonewall would never have happened, the goverments hand would not have been foirced on AIDS research via Act-Up in the 80’s, and you probably wouldn’t have the freedom that you do to write this blog today.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

While I think Timothy is wrong about this being embarrasing to our side I certainly don’t agree with Wendy that we can never criticize our own. We have an obligation to speak what we believe to be the truth, whether it criticizes our own or not.

Jim Burroway
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Will,

Oh Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease. That was ME plugging this article at RudePundit. Not “my friend Bill.” In fact, I have no idea what Bil Browning’s positionis on this. We really don’t keep in touch that much. So how about calming down and taking a deep breath.

While I do appreciate the activism of Act Up and Stonewall — Didn’t we all cheer on Dan Choi’s protest at the White House? — I also know bad tactics when I see it. Timothy and I agree (and disagree) on a lot of things, and on this thing I think we’re in complete agreement. Okay. So you aren’t. That’s fine.

By the way — as for Stonewall and Act Up giving us the freedom to “write this blog today,” I would strongly encourage you to brush up on American History. We fought a little revolution over the priciples of free speech about 200 years ago. And free speech only means something when it is truly free to speak, even if it doesn’t pass muster — especially if it doesn’t pass muster — with the prevailing winds.

If you want to understand where we get our rights to blog, look at the First Amendment, AND more importantly, look at this 1958 Supreme Court decision brought by a struggling gay magazine from L.A., publishing exactly the same kind of stories that you would condemn today. But that doesn’t mean they sat back on their hands. And neither do we. As important milestones Stonewall and Act Up were, they weren’t the starting point for LGBT advocacy.

Will
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Thnak you for the history lesson and I stand corrected. (Although even with the first amendment without Stonewall this site would not be as big and widly available and viewed as it is today) But still you did not give me the answer to my question What IS the perfect acceptable tactic?

You applauded Dan Choi for handcuffing himself. Where do you stand on Get Equal?

In a way this whole thing is a non-argument. The people in R.I. had every right to speak out. It is thier constitutional right. So some people didn;t like it. BIG WHOOP. The infighting is what kills us. You want to talk…then talk. I may not agree with that being the best way but I won’t stop you.

It taks many stratagies to win a war. Not just one. Diplomatic and fighting. And like it or not this ISa war.

I apologize for flying off the handel. But there are many many other people and organizations that DO NOT stand with us that deserve the treatment and negative attention to other than people on our own side.

Oh and by the way. If anyone is interested in protesting NOM when it copmes to Indianapolis, Indiana
Summer for Marriage Tour Stop:
Indianapolis, IN – Monday, July 26, 2010 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm
State House, East Steps and they must consider this a BIG ONE because they are trotting out the BIG Heffer herself Maggie Gallagher

Other Fred in the UK
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

@Vito J. Oliver

Do you really think it is wise not to care what the press says or how events will be spun? Do you think that which informs the thinking of the voters of Rhode Island or elsewhere is not important?

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Will

Here’s a question for you. Since talking and discussion with our “opponents” hasn’t worked, and you seem to be against civil disobedience and screaming and fighting back, then I ask you. Whats the magic bullet that we haven’t tried then Einstein that will win us our rights?

This deserves an answer. So here’s what I think we should do: Be smart. Act, don’t react. And be responsible for more than your next emotional whim.

Or, in this case, recognize the intent of NOM’s Summer for Marriage Tour and respond accordingly.

All they want is publicity. So I’d say, let’s not give it too them.

Oh, let their pathetic little rallies go on, but organize something more interesting and more newsworthy. Steal their thunder.

The colored umbrellas were clever, they drew the eye away from the drab NOM crowd, it had greater news appeal. And it also had a certain dignity and gave the impression of being principled.

The press event yesterday in Trenton was impactful, there were real families and real children and this had newsworthiness. Both of these approaches served to draw attention away from the speakers. They gave us a chance to dilute their impact and replace their message with our own.

The resulting news stories are “here are people who want to marry, and those who want to stop them”. That is a sympathetic position and we win that battle of images.

But screaming and charging the podium tends to draw attention to what Brian Brown and Co. have to say. (And, of course, to the individual doing the shouting.) Our message, however, is lost.

Instead the overall effect is “here are people who want to speak (NOM) and those who want to stop them (nasty scary militant homosexual activists — eek).” Notice that oppressors and the victims have now traded places. Instead of being the ones being harmed by crazy eyed wackadoodles, we are the ones looking extreme and destructive.

I think, Will, that you want there to be one right way: militant or passive. Is Choi always right or always wrong? What about GetEqual or HRC… who is right, what side are we on?

But instead there is one right way: intelligent. Sometimes aggressive is necessary, sometimes silent is better, sometimes clever or funny.

But the way that almost never is right is impulsive and thoughtless.

No one is saying “sit back”. No one is saying “be quiet”. What I am saying – and what is resonating – is “be smart”.

My advice would be that when you protest in Indianapolis, know your plan in advance. Let your mind rather than your emotions rule the day. Work cohesively with the rest of the protesters. Create a plan that accesses the situation, determines the optimal outcome, and strategizes accordingly.

That way the results of your activism help our cause rather than just feel good.

Will
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Tim you do have a valid point. BUT I don’t think that what happened in Providence does any harm. Both canps our and thiers are just preaching to thier own choirs. It’s not going to change anyones mind.

THAT being said i do want to say one thing. I live in the Midwest. The Tour is heading here now. THERE WILL be larger crowds for NOM. And I just want it to be known that it won’t be because of what happened in Providence. I follow the Religious Hate Groups in the Midwest and they have been pushing and organizing groups to attend long before the incident this weekend. I just want to share that because I really don;t wantVito and the others to be blamed for a bigger turnout in the midwest as if they suddenly “galvanized” NOM supporters. They are galvanized here enough and have been planning on a huge turnout.

I just wanted that to be known

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Fair enough. If there are bigger crowds in the midwest I won’t blame Vito.

Come to think of it, if NOM’s Big Bus of Animus can’t get more anti-gays in Indianapolis than they got in Albany, then they should have “bus trouble” and go home.

Priya Lynn
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Instead the overall effect is “here are people who want to speak (NOM) and those who want to stop them (nasty scary militant homosexual activists — eek).” Notice that oppressors and the victims have now traded places. Instead of being the ones being harmed by crazy eyed wackadoodles, we are the ones looking extreme and destructive.

With Brian Brown screaming back, that’s not the overall effect. The overall effect is “Here are two groups who feel strongly screaming at each other”. Possibly not helpful to our side, but not harmful either.

Richard Rush
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Will wrote:

“Oh and by the way. If anyone is interested in protesting NOM when it comes to Indianapolis, Indiana
Summer for Marriage Tour Stop:
Indianapolis, IN – Monday, July 26, 2010 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm
State House, East Steps and they must consider this a BIG ONE because they are trotting out the BIG Heffer herself Maggie Gallagher

Wow, that was fast! Looks like NOM has already taken my advice:

First of all, they need to bring in some star-power, and that means Maggie Gallagher. At every tour venue she can headline a gala celebration of the sanctity of marriage by performing her famous magic trick whereby she makes her Hindu husband disappear.

Will
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Tim actually I can guarentee that the NOM Tour will do better in the Midwest. They know thier base and thats why the tour is scheduled the way it is.

They went to the places where they knew turnout will be light in the NE and left there base for the middle and the end.

2 Stops in Ohio
1 in Indianna
1 in Wisconsin
3 in Minnesota
2 in Iowa

And I bet you they will use the “we are gathering steam” line also

Richard Rush
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, your longer comment in response to Will today was excellent. I think it could be worthy of being a main post. I have to admit that I often feel the impulse to lash out in anger because I loath these people so deeply and completely. Your comment was a good reminder that there is a more productive approach.

But I also want to say that I am thankful for Will and others like him for being so fired up to help improve the lives of gay people. Even though we (including I) may have some issues with the tactics, I think a much bigger problem is the extensive apathy among large numbers of gays. I know some adult gay people who had never heard of sodomy laws, and that is just depressing. But then it’s also depressing to focus on the issues covered by BTB and elsewhere day-in and day-out, so maybe that’s why some gays don’t pay attention and focus on more upbeat things instead.

Timothy (TRiG)
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

Among outside observers, such as those at Gawker, this seems to be no PR disaster for the voices of equality. Rather the opposite, in fact.

http://gawker.com/5590876/umbrella+wielding-homosexual-activists-ruin-peaceful-family-rally

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
July 21st, 2010 | LINK

TRiG,

wrong day. The umbrellas were at Albany, NY, on Saturday. Storming the podium took place in Providence, RI, on Sunday.

JT1962
July 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Y’know, I’m 48 and I’ve been fighting for gay rights in my own way most of my life. My focus in life right now is pancreatic cancer, because it’s what I’m dying from, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still fighting in my own way. That way is conversations.

I try to have conversations with people who feel gays are anything but everyday people trying to live their lives. I don’t get in their faces and rage because I know that only leads to shouting matches, not listening. Who wants to listen to what is being said during a screamfest? All you remember is the screaming, not the words.

Yeah, it feels great to let out the anger. But the message is lost in the screaming. Priya Lynn, you said that the overall effect was here are two groups that are shouting at each other. Where in that overall impression is the message that all we want is equality? What equality, the ability to yell just as loud? The ability to lose our tempers first? The equality to look like lunatics? Yeah, Brian Brown was yelling, but the pictures don’t really show his face. They show one female homosexual activist enraged and screaming at someone who is just standing there, while someone in the background takes pictures. NOT the picture I want to see defining the equality movement.

I’ve fought too long and too hard, written too many letters, to let anger and emotions rule the day now, when I’m fighting for my life. Please, think. Act, don’t react.

Priya Lynn
July 22nd, 2010 | LINK

JT I doubt anyone in the States is unaware that all we want is equality. With the way Brian Brown is aggressively leaning forward and in the face of the protester its clear he isn’t just standing there, he’s screaming back.

JT1962
July 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Sorry Priya Lynn, as a photographer for many years, all that picture objectively shows is a man being yelled at by a young female, surrounded by a group. There is nothing in his face that shows he’s yelling back.

It doesn’t matter how many people know that all we want is equality. What matters is the message they hear and that message was lost within the anger.

I’ve wasted enough of my precious energy trying to explain why this was just bad reactions.

Priya Lynn
July 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Technically speaking you’re right, but as a practical matter the vast majority of people who see that picture are going to assume Brian Brown is yelling as well.

JT1962
July 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Technically speaking, you’re as stubborn as Brian Brown is. You know that you’re partially wrong but you’re going to beat that horse until someone says you’re totally right. Sorry, that someone isn’t going to be me.

We all know where assumptions get us. We all assumed that the polls in CA were good and we’d defeat Prop 8. I spent hours and hours in FL, making phone calls and driving people to the voting booths in 2004. I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years and I can tell you right now, anger gets you off your ass and out doing something but it doesn’t get you what you want most, which is to change how people view us. You can keep letting anger lead you and see where you get. But I know that the demonstration in Albany said more than the angry shouting did in Providence. And it won over more people than you will ever begin to understand.

With that said, I’m going to go meditate to get rid of the pain that has been creeping up all day. Pancreatic cancer is going to take my life but it’s not going to take my spirit until I let it.

Timothy Kincaid
July 23rd, 2010 | LINK

JT1962

I admire your spirit and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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