Joe vs. The Volcano

The volcano, in the case of this Washington Post profile on HRC President Joe Solmonese, is not the Eyjafjallajökull glacier currently isolating him in London, but the angry bloggers and activists who pressure "Gay Inc" to get the job done.

Solmonese "But when the [hospital rights] directive was issued, Solmonese, currently stuck in London because of volcanic ash, says he couldn't fully give himself over to joy, because he knew it would be followed by strong critical reaction.

He's not talking about conservative groups such as Focus on the Family. Solmonese is not talking about the haters. He's talking about the furious: Gay activists and bloggers who think well-heeled nonprofits like HRC are too appeasing, too accepting of incremental change, too insidery. They have coined a term for their derision: 'Gay Inc.'"

Because we're all supposed to be satisfied with a bone while everyone else in the country gets a full meal, apparently.


  1. says

    Any student of civil rights movements in the past knows that neither insiders nor outsiders can win the fight alone. HRC is the epitome of “insider” – and it’s a) really important that they do what they do from the inside and b) equally important that they are pressured by outsiders to do more, never be satisfied, never rest until the job is done. And, it should go without saying, it’s up to the outsiders to do their own advocacy work as only they can.

    This is a symbiotic relationship, and if people on both sides of the inside/outside divide would worry less about criticizing the other for how they do things, we might realize that we’re all on the same side, just fighting on multiple fronts. Perspective, people … perspective.

  2. yonkersconquers says

    Kudos Andy T, for not being awed by the few crumbs thrown our way.

    Here’s what’s happening: the right-wing in America have now moved so far to the right that simply being gay disqualifies you as an American citizen. That’s not an understatement. Look at what just happened to Lindsey Graham yesterday.

    I get that gays are social pariah’s. I get that we’re political Kryptonite. But I also believe that you get as much freedom as you take. Bullies don’t fear or respect calls for mediation or shivering plea’s. They respect force of numbers and might. We have to insist, loudly and repeatedly, that the time has come for legal equality. We need not apologize to anyone for insisting on what are after all equal rights.

  3. Chris says

    What continues to baffle me is how people expect the HRC to do EVERYTHING. Am I happy with how much progress has been made so far in the Obama administration in terms of gay rights? No. Do I blame it all on the HRC? Again no. Advocacy organizations need to specialize, and they do. So there’s a space–and need– for a political organization like the HRC that has close ties to Congress and the Administration. If such an organization didn’t existed, we’d be screwed. Then there Lambda Legal, that focuses on legal advocacy; etc. If you think the HRC should be organizing mass protests, sit-ins, etc, you’re wrong: YOU should. The HRC needs to be on good terms with Congress and making things happen that way, not in the streets. If you want to do other things, organize them yourself! Fighting amongst ourselves isn’t going to help; more action from all of us IS going to help.

  4. Daya says

    Call me to practical. When you are building a house, you don’t use just one tool. If you tried building a house with just a hammer… well not everything is a nail.
    We need HRC… and SDLN, ACTUP, GetEQUAL, GLAAD, GLAD, Dignity, GLSEN, LambdaLegal, PFLAG, Stonewall Democrats, Logcabin Republicans… each of these organizations are all working in different ways for our CIVIL RIGHTS.

    I have used the example of the Freedom movement in India in the 1930s and 1940s. Gandhi is well known for his Non-violence Non-cooperation. But there was also Bhagat Singh, who with his organization was blowing up British holdings all over India. Because of Bhagat Singh, the British were pushed into working with Gahdhi.

    There isn’t one way nor one way for all.
    We need to stop yelling at each other and pointing out each other’s faults and helping each other become better at what we do. Yes, HRC does some things I don’t care for but there are so many other things that they do that are not immediately visible but are very important and that have helped us get to where we are today. And I will defend all those that talk against Lt. dan Choi — this man has heart and is putting his life out there for others. Each is important, each moves us forward.

  5. Tim W says

    Sorry but if HRC was doing what it should be doing many of you would be correct. But instead of calling out our allies when they betray us Joe and HRC have been like a lap dog giving this administration political cover from things like their foot dragging on DADT.
    I believe it is time that the GLBT community stops giving money to the HRC until they grow a backbone. I don’t need them on the streets protesting. What I need them to do is hold our supposed allies accountable for their lack of action. Only them will they being fufilling their duty.

  6. says

    I am a Democrat. I spend the vast majority of my day working on a grassroots progressive Democratic agenda. Every night when I would rather be at home, I’m making sure my state stays Democratic because I know my Senator and other Democratic reps are on our side.

    The last thing I need is Gay Inc going behind my back to my reps and telling them that the activists that I work with (Dan, Robin, Alan, etc..) are not to be paid attention to. They say they are non partisan , yet, they always have their noses in my party’s business. To make matters worse, a large percentage of them are Republicans. They hate Obama and my Senator. Yet, because is is SO not PC to openly be a Gay Republican, they use Gay Inc as a cover. In essence they are playing both sides of the fence while shoving a big ole “DONATE NOW!” Button up our asses while telling us that they are doing what’s best for us, so, just stay quiet.

    Fuck that.

    I am not, and will never be, a Spook By The Door for any party and especially not Gay Inc.

    In a few short months, Gay Inc has been brought to a point of crisis by a few dozen people around the country who have awakened a sleeping giant of LGBT folks who are just tired.

    Tired of being treated like illegals in our own country.

    Tired of having people say they want government out of our lives while insisting the government regulate discrimination against us.

    Tired of being equated to pedophiles and goat fuckers when some church or politician needs to raise a few pieces of silver.

    And we are tired of Gay Inc taking millions of dollars from the local community where we could have spent the last 30 years training a diverse generation of politicians and school board members and activists for our causes and then building Taj Mahals in DC so that their $1,000 suits would have a place to go everyday.

    We are tired.

    And we are not going to take it anymore.

  7. patrick nyc says

    While I see a need for groups like HRC, I think Solmonese is an idiot, and every time he opens his mouth I dislike him more.

  8. Mr. E says

    Enough with the HRC apologists. Sheesh. Perspective!? Not all LBG and yes T (!) have middle class incomes or wish to emulate hetero norms. Gay, Inc. on the outside, seems to only really represent them selves, who are mostly white, ‘main stream’ and middle class. Mr. Joe showed his true colors two years ago when he changed his mind and decided that our trans brothers and sister aren’t first class citizens. He’s been predictable ever since.

  9. brian says

    A full meal? Ask Latinos if they are happy with their full meal on immigration. Ask African Americans if they have received a full meal from this administration. Ask women’s groups if they have. The truth is that gays are one group of many that Obama wants to deliver for. Change takes time and he has already done more than any President ever.

  10. JusticeontheRocks says

    No one disputes the need for “inside the beltway” groups to lobby on our behalf. The problem is that HRC happens to be lousy at it. Their record is unblemished – zero accomplishments. The job needs to be done; it needs to be done much better than these idiots are capable of doing it.

  11. MCnNYC says

    and yet…you yourself Andy or the editors of this blog thought it was “Significant” when you touted it in a number of posts?

    What Gives? I think there is many issues and examples you can critize (Or tear down HRC which is the reason d’etre of you and “the swarm”) but be consistent. Either it’s “SIGNIFICANT” or “CRUMBS”.

  12. MCnNYC says

    @ YonkersConquers…
    ANDY has been practically fawning over this visition rights “memo” do a search on here…he only calls it a crumb weeks later in this context.
    Don’t get me wrong I like Andy and Cory’s political coverage and I respect his blog here for the variety of topics of concern but you can’t applaud the memo as SIGNIFICANT then just crumbs a week later.

    for the record…I commented last week that I thought it was a small consolation prize and a shallow victory for how we got screwed by the Democrats and Obama in the Health Care Reform Bill

  13. says

    A little lesson in political strategy folks. The new names that you don’t recognize are not “apologists” or “Trolls”. They are part of “Rapid Response” teams that Gay Inc has recently started.

    It’s a perfectly acceptable way of turning the conversation back to your side. To me, it should have been done quite some time ago. It shows, yet again, that Gay Inc is too bloated to adopt and adapt in ways that are up to the minute as the battle progresses.

    They are up against insurgents using big war tactics.

  14. Jon says

    True to form, Solmonese has been trying to get home by offering to sit in the back of the plane.

  15. Mark says

    Andy, Towleroad is one of my favorite blogs and I generally really the coverage. I think the open bias against HRC, combined with the snarky comments, are generally beneath you and the product you maintain. HRC’s not a perfect organization, but there are a lot of hard working smart people there who do their best for the community each day. HRC play’s it’s part and activists outside play their part too. I’d point out that the blogswarm that you and others hosted against HRC only generated 400 emails and 100 phone calls – which is a demonstration of why the community needs an organization like HRC to organize and provide infrastructure to thousands of LGBT and straight allied people so their voices can be heard in Congress in thoughtful, meaningful ways.

  16. says

    ” I’d point out that the blogswarm that you and others hosted against HRC only generated 400 emails and 100 phone calls – which is a demonstration of why the community needs an organization like HRC to organize and provide infrastructure to thousands of LGBT and straight allied people so their voices can be heard in Congress in thoughtful, meaningful ways.”

    Dude, you just insulted 500 people, some of the most influential LGBT non MSM bloggers and you don’t even realize it. Fail.

  17. MCnNYC says

    Sorry Derrick then why wasn;t I contacted?
    How do you know who these people are?
    MAybe they are the HRC Board member and donor who gave you more than half of your funds to hold October’s March?

    You don’t call out Andy, or Joe or Joe or Pam or Sully when they all get together and coordinate their bias. Maybe their presence can actually help in the dialogue beyond the usual bitchiness that passes for some commentary here.

    I’ll ask again. Was the memo “Significant” on Thursday and Crumbs today?

    Here’s how the swarm can be like teabaggers…cause no matter WHAT HRC does…it won’t get them anywhere with them.
    Nothing less than total destruction is on their mind. I don’t think Towleroad has crossed into crazyland like Sully or Avarosis or JMG. And I hope it never does.

  18. jack scribe says

    HRC is lobbyist group that has been sucked into the D.C. bullshit machine. Ever notice how many HRC staff are making over 100k/year? Or Joe’s quarter-million dollar salary? GLBT money can be better spent locally. I live in a town (P.S.) where the mayor and two city council peeps are gay.

  19. Name: says

    I agree with Dereck but half agree with Yonkers. It’s not just one sided, it’s both sides that good give a shit about us. I feel more used by the democrats who take our money and do nothing for us.

  20. jamal49 says

    Joe is all about the hangin with the “movers and shakers” but not the “bakers and rakers” (unless they are hot enough, of course, to fulfill his prol fantasies), the A-list social events (gay or straight), getting invited to Bill & Hillary’s for a weekend, a house on Fire Island, first class travel, circuit fund-raising parties, etc. etc. No, I don’t expect the HRC to do everything. I do what I can, donate when I can, write letters when I can, call Congress when I can, join marches when I can, as I am sure we ALL do. The problem with Joe is he is an elitist. I appreciate his efforts, how he got to where he was, and all, but the guy just doesn’t understand that 85% of the LGBT community does not live on either coast or in DC. They live in the “out there”, Middle America-land. They work, struggle to pay bills and rent, hope to fall in love, have a good relationship with someone, put up with more homophobia in a day than Joe might all year. Joe needs to connect with LGBT people “out there” because they are the ones who are on the front lines every day and not like Joe, who is in Europe or London, probably on a paid speaking engagement or a guest on a talk show or just on holiday. Get real, Joe.

  21. says

    Red, while I would normally agree with you, HRC is its own special blend of craptastic. Even Martin Luther King was willing to get arrested — and he was the inside to the SNCC outside — Joe Solomnese thinks people who get arrested for the cause are dirty or something. It was very telling when Joe Solomnese refused to even march with Dan Choi to the White House. Dan Choi is the leader our movement needs right now, Solomnese just needs to go away.

  22. MCnNYC says

    So Derrick now bloggers are above repoach?
    You are advocating we all work together?
    Wow I thought you were more level headed about it all. FAIL.

  23. KCJ310 says

    I’m so tired of people bashing HRC. It’s a donor organization. It’s not a public service. Do you donate your money to HRC? Yes? Then say whatever you want. And say it to them directly. No? Then shut the hell up. Or tell us what you personally are doing toward equality instead. Oh, you’re just making blog comments? Wow, you’re a great citizen.

  24. MCnNYC says

    And derrick…if you really don’t want to hear what other commenters have to say…get your own blog…oh that’s right…

    I don’t get it with you…first you complain that HRC is deaf to what’s happening on the blogs and in the comments section…they you get paranoid that there are infiltrators working for Gay Inc…
    maybe towleroad should just be reserved for comments by those who have blogs and continue the echo chamber. i mean I can go here or almost everyother LGBT blog and read the same comments by a NUMBER of regulars here.

    But hey…got to go..I have to pick up my tux for the GLAAD-HRC-LAMBDA-GLSEN-POINT-STONEWALL FOUNDATION-ESPA-PFLAG gala/cocktail party that every white gay male is always rumored to be attending tonight. One thing I won’t have to worry about is what to wear to the TASK FORCE party since I gave up circuit parties.

  25. rdw says

    I am active with HRC, I know many of the folks that work at the “Taj” in DC. I have to say, I have not met a harder working, more creative, focused group of people. It makes me sad when people make ill informed generalizations about what the HRC does. Are they perfect, nope, but neither is any other organization out there. If you don’t agree with their approach give your time and effort to someone else. Why try and belittle the efforts of some very good and dedicated folks. Sad.

  26. says

    @MCetc: You completely missed the part where I said that rapid response was a good political practice. You were a little focused somewhere else perhaps?

    I love that different views are heard here. I actually have had my mind changed several times by commenters that I originally hated. I especially like when people post links to give background on what they are talking about.

    So, who’s paranoid?

  27. Chris says

    Jamal49: I’m not sure using outdated Communist terminology (prol? elitist?) gets us anywhere. Personally, I think heads of large organizations deserve the pay they get–that’s how you attract top talent. And yes, I think J.S. falls in that category. What he needs to improve is the HRC’s communications, since no one seems to understand what the HRC does.

    KCJ310: Finally someone points that out! The HRC is a member organization, people. If you don’t like what it does, don’t support it. But what it does achieve benefits all of us, whether or not we’re members.

    And to the people whining about the galas and stuff: that’s how non-profits work. I used to work for a non-profit larger than the HRC (a non-gay organization, for the record). They’re not just throwing fancy parties to please people or congratulate themselves. These events raise hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. They’re a great way to get new high-end supporters. And they get media coverage, so the Midwest closeted teen can come across an article about it and not feel alone.

    As for complaining that these people care more about their careers than they do about gay rights, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. First of all, EVERYONE gets paid less than they would for an equivalent job in the private sector, and no one gets bonuses. If they really cared about their careers first, they wouldn’t be working for the HRC, Solmonese included.

  28. says

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Apr 20, 2010 1:54:52 PM “A little lesson in political strategy folks. The new names that you don’t recognize are not “apologists” or “Trolls”. They are part of “Rapid Response” teams that Gay Inc has recently started.”

    I’m with Derek on this one. You guys have been on HuffPo,JMG,Towleroad,Americablog and even Qeerty, all day long and it is the same crap all day long. You are not fooling anyone, but continue. The “rapid response” is impressive, but you are not reaching anyone with a brain. It does show how my money would be spent were i still sending any.

  29. MCnNYC says

    Hey Realist…stop trolling and go back to your own blog for chis sake and take a few others here…all you are trying to do is get your numbers up.
    Get a real job.