So the discussion during the LGBT caucus at YearlyKos was about what I expected. There was a lot of discussion about the direction of the Democratic Party on gay and lesbian equality, which which was pretty much a review of the complaints voiced recently, from the Dean’s appearance on the 700 Club to what is or isn’t happening on the local and state level.
People were, of course, all over the place in terms of what they thought the party leadership should or shouldn’t be doing on gay & lesbian equality issues. But what it all boiled down to for me is this: the party is not going to lead on our issues. So, if we’re on our own in that regard how do we organize the LGBT netroots on our issues at the national, state and local levels, In fact, where are the queer netroots?
Well, we’re not all in one place. There are, of course, several high profile gay political bloggers, like John Aravosis or Andrew Sullivan just to name a couple. (And much more than that if you broaden the scope beyond politics to include, say, popular culture.) We’re diarists and commenters on community sites like DailyKos or MyDD, where our voices get blended with lots of others on lots of different issues.
Or do we get lost in the shuffle? I mean, it’s a good thing to have high profile gays & lesbians in the mix. It’s wonderful that our voices are in the mix on high profile progressive netroots sites. But where is the LGBT netroots space online? Should there be one, separate from the other progressive netroots sites that already exist?
I say yes. Here’ s why.
Like I said before, it’s great that there are some high profile gay bloggers out there, but it doesn’t amplify our voices so much as those individual voices. And it’s great that so many of us are actively participating in netroots sites. It’s important that our voices are heart in those communities, but even those sites don’t amplify our voices or organize our community. That’s something that doesn’t really exist, and it needs to be built because if it’s built we will come.
Look at the websites of the major gay organizations, and you’ll find most of them have action centers, but don’t have blogs or sites where their members can communicate with each other, organize themselves and talk back to the leadership of those organizations. And maybe some of those organizations wouldn’t readily embrace a more “bottom-up” form of organizing message creation. And that’s a shame because evidence suggests that the community is primed and ready for it.
Gays are all over the web. Just look at the Simmons study from last years, which showed that gays and lesbians are quick to embrace new technology and are heavy users of the internet. If you believe that then it shouldn’t come as a surprise a Harris Interactive poll found that gays are more likely to read blogs than non-gays.
Sitting here at the YearlyKos conference, I can’t help thinking about the potential of something like this. Imagine a gay-focused netroots site that eventually lead to a convention like this one, where people can network, hash out agendas, pick up skills, etc., and then take all that back to their communities; and where candidates and policy-makers come to reach out to our communities.
So, why isn’t there a central gay netroots site? Maybe it’s too intimidating a task to take on, especially for someone in the community to start and support. Maybe it’s because it might have to be non-partisan to be effective, but most of the leading gay organizations are either decidedly partisan or more partisan than they’d like to admit, and our communities are not monolithic in terms of their politics.
Regardless of all the above, though, there has to be a model to build something like this; something that perhaps all the various organizations can support without necessarily controlling the content or being heavily identified with it. It’s clear there’s a need for it, and that there’s a community that will probably readily embrace it.
It just needs to be built. Like, yesterday.