I hadn't really been out for very long, it was all kind of new to me, and I told an old friend of mine, a gay man who lived on the other side of the country that I had been invited to an HRC dinner. "Do you know what the HRC is?" I asked him.

"Do I know what the HRC is?" he responded, "that's like asking a Catholic if he knows what the Vatican is.........."

I thought I got his point at the time, and off I went to that HRC dinner. It was a pretty damn good event, one thousand men in tuxedoes. That night led to other gatherings, a cocktail party in a hotel, a lovely affair in a downtown law firm. And then, one night, drinks on a balcony, a tower really, overlooking all of Provincetown. You could see the center of town, you could see the harbor, you could even make out Herring Cove Beach. Someone asked the president of the HRC, a smart man, a local boy done good, someone asked him a question.

"Why does the HRC support people like Senator D'Amato?"

That struck me as odd. I didn't know anything about the matter at the time, didn't know about D'Amato's outspoken support for gay rights legislation, only knew he was anti-choice and sat solidly on the right side of the aisle. "Our friends," said the HRC president to us, the summer sky behind him, "our friends need to know that we are there for them when it counts. No matter what." Made sense to me. That's how it works down in Washington.

It sort of made sense to me. At least, for a little while it did. I went to a few more cocktail parties, the talk was about marriage, all about marriage, and raising money, and making sure our friends were taken care of. I met a lot of smart and sincere people. It was comfortable at those gatherings, I was with my kind, well sort of I was, I mean they were gay and they were professional. And for a little while it all made sense to me.

But I remembered what my friend had told me. About being a Catholic and the Vatican and all. And I was raised Catholic and he knew that. And I have a few problems with the Vatican. I mean, when I considered myself a Catholic, those men in the Vatican purported to speak for me, but I grew to understand that they weren't really speaking for me, and what they were doing didn't make any sense to me.

And then I began to meet other gay men. Men who didn't go to HRC gatherings. Some of whom didn't give a damn about marriage. And my boyfriend gave me The Trouble with Normal to read. And then a little John Rechy, The Sexual Outlaw. And little by little I became less and less sure about what being gay meant, and how I fit in to it all, and who I wanted representing me.

In October of this year, there was a march on Washington. Barney Frank wasn't too happy about it. I don't think the HRC was, either. I read the announcement they put out just before the march, I guess they didn't tell people not to show up, but you might agree with me that their support was tepid.

I guess its not how its done down in Washington. At least, that's not how its done if you have power and access. Not how we protect our friends.

But I'm figuring it out that Human Rights aren't limited to getting gay people to a justice of the peace. Its taking me a while, but I'm figuring it out that my own conception of Human Rights probably means Senator D'Amato deserved to be knocked off. That HRC, its not the Vatican, that's for damn sure, but maybe it is time to come down from that tower in Provincetown. Maybe what's really happening is down there in the street, where things get a little messy, down among the drag queens and the kids. I'm not sure. I mean, I really like one thousand men in tuxedoes. I always will. But I'm beginning to wonder.

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Anonymous said...

Interesting post. As a community, we need to begin thinking about what these political organizations stand for and what we really want.

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