In its Mission Statement, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) claims to be “America’s largest gay and lesbian organization.” Thus, many have turned to this D.C.-based group as the voice of the gay community. But, now that we know that HRC’s has inflated its membership, we need to ask, who, if anyone, really speaks for gays?
Ted at Charging Rhino is right that HRC’s new President Joe Solmonese needs to come clean and release an accurate tally of its membership. But no matter how big that number, we can now say for certain that while HRC speaks for a large number of gays, the very fact that it fudges its numbers indicates that its base is not as large as its leaders, present and past, would like it to be.
I don’t think anybody really speaks for all gays. We do not have a leader, nor do I think we need one, to whom a majority of gay and lesbian Americans turn to for inspiration, leadership and ideas. Yet, there are a variety of gay and lesbian individuals and groups to whom many of us look for these qualities. For some, it’s Larry Kramer. Andrew Sullivan has a substantial following. A number of us get inspiration from entertainers Ellen. While others turn to organizations, including HRC. A few even turn to Log Cabin.
But, Log Cabin can’t even claim to speak for all gay Republicans. The organization refused to endorse the president’s re-election, even as over 90% of gay Republicans stuck with the president. After the election, LCR’s president refused to say whom he voted for for president, while its political director underestimated the final gay tally for his party’s nominee by well over a half.
The point is that our community is far more diverse that some would like it to be. A number of gay activists have trouble even grappling with the fact that approximately one in four gay Americans backed the president.
And our diversity extends beyond politics.
In short, no one individual or organization speaks for all gays or even for a majority of gays. Many people speak for gays. Including this blog.
By reporting HRC’s fudged numbers, “THE WASHINGTON BLADE” has done gay & lesbian Americans a great service. We now know that HRC, the largest of gay organizations, has a considerably smaller audience that we once assumed. Another reminder of the diversity of our community. And a reminder that one organization alone does not speak for all of us.