Déjà vu: Does the LGBT Gay Rights Movement Ally with Occupy Wall Street?

Stephanie DonaldAt a time when we just lost Frank Kameny an old argument that was tossed around between Kameny and Jack Nichols has come around again.

When the anti-war movement reached its peak in 1967-1968 Jack Nichols felt that by allying with that movement that we could gain the leftist factions to increase the numbers we needed to pass legislation and get laws changed, pass new ones and “ride the wave” of the hippie movement.

Frank was not in favor of this being a World War II veteran. The difference in generations definitely shown through between the philosophies of the two friends and Nichols was drifting apart in his stand.



Recently, a friend of Jack’s sent me this page from Jack’s journal dated May, 1967:

Steve Yates once again becomes a constant in my daily life, just as during our Miami days. His lover has left town, going to school for thirteen weeks in Baltimore. Steve is supposed to be in school himself—taking classes in air conditioning repair.  Instead, we ride aboutJack Nichols & Lige Clarke on TV with Geraldo Rivera-1972 town in his company van, smoking pot, cruising, and talking incessantly about hippies and the implications of the counterculture revolt.

For the first time I question U.S. involvement in Vietnam and see a dimension that remains beyond the ken of gay movement people alarmed by the counterculture's growth. The counterculture, not the official gay movement, seems most to challenge the gender system of old. While many gay movement stalwarts seek entrance to the Establishment, the counterculture calls for an end to establishment thinking.   I focus on this development.

Young males praise tenderness and sensitivity, disparaging the macho code. Young women, beautiful without makeup, scorn its use.  While I once stood for the rights of gay men and women to enter the Armed Forces, now I laugh as the anti-war movement suggests draftees go to their local boards in full drag.

I continue to admire Frank Kameny for his many talents, though I begin to move steadily in my own direction.  Kameny is right when he says that much of the movement lacks Washington Mattachine's ideological expertise, but I begin to feel that this alone is insufficient.  I note a verse from Whitman's Leaves of Grass:

I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes,

rhymes; We convince by our presence.

Just as Jack once questioned the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War I’ve never once questioned the validity of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. OWS has garnered more support in a short period of time than the hippie movement ever did during the 1960s-1970s. At last count in polls about 51% of Americans believe the validity of Occupy Wall Street and the movement has spread worldwide.

Elizabeth Warren-Possible founder of the Occupy Wall Street MovementWhile the LGBT civil rights movement is absolutely right at this time we must concede that the state of this nation must take precedence over any and all things that we’re trying to do. If this nation steers into the brick wall of bankruptcy then any civil rights argument is moot.

My mother once told me that if you wait around long enough that everything comes back into style. Even though she was a fall-down drunk it appears that she had at least one or two bones of wisdom in between her passing out on the couch.

Here we are in 2011 and the majority of people left alive lived through the 1960s or have parents, grandparents or even in some instances great grandparents who lived through and in some cases participated in the anti-war protests of the Vietnam War.

As far as allying the LGBT civil rights movement with the OWS movement, in the case of the OWS and union protesters in Washington State, the gay and lesbian alliance threw their whole-hearted support behind the union and OWS movement and this past week the executive board of the UFCW Local 21 has endorsed and petitioned the Washington State Legislature to pass marriage equality.

We’ve reached a point of critical mass with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The more opposition they encounter the more support the movement gets from peopleIraq War Veteran Scott Olsen wounded by rubber bullet at Oakland Occupy Wall Street protest previously uninvolved. The Oakland, California debacle is turning out to be a disaster for the Police Chief and the Mayor and the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet with Governor Jerry Brown and I’m quite sure he will have something very biting to say about how the situation was handled.

Since our own civil rights are pretty much a moot point if the Tea-Baggers are allowed to bankrupt the United States then it stands to reason that allying ourselves with the OWS Movement is not only a sound decision but one that assures the preservation of our nation and brings us into direct contact with the 81% of polled Americans who also support equal rights for the LGBT community.

We’ve waited around long enough and find ourselves right back in the middle of the same situation that Jack Nichols and Frank Kameny faced 44 years ago. The difference is that the LGBT community has much more muscle now that we did back then. We can offer OWS support that we could never have thought of during the Vietnam War years.

All things become accumulative and we can thank those heroes of the past in the LGBT gay rights movement for their work because without them we would not be dealing from a position of power now.

Richard_Noble & his walk across America for the American Equality BillI believe that we should continue working on our equality through such projects as the American Equality Bill, which holds the key to solving 99% of our equality issues by amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include full equality for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, but our main focus should become the Occupy Wall Street Movement because the current momentum will win one way or the other and whether the political and corporate powers like it or not.

There is revolutionary wind blowing across the face of the Earth and with the failure of the Euro, the pig-headedness of Congress in the United States to help the unemployed, those who are losing their homes to foreclosure and the banks that are still being allowed to run rampant over everyone. In Greece the people and unions are effectively shutting down the entire nation while protesters are over-running police riot control lines. Similar scenes are taking place in Spain, Britain, France and Germany.

In China there are more quiet protesters producing internet cartoons. The government fines the violators but it doesn’t seem to stop them. Once their cartoons hit YouTube then other people pick them up and they survive once China removes them from the original creator they fined.

Yes, we can win this because it’s not just a bunch of rag-tag hippies this time. We have doctors, lawyers, airline pilots, house-keepers, healthcare workers, senior citizens and people from every walk of life.

There is room for the LGBT community and we’ve always received the highest support from left-wing citizens. We just have to make sure that we’re “well marked” as the LGBT supporters.

I put our odds at 100-1 in favor of winning everything for our community and for our nation and planet.

What comes around goes around and this go around is a sure bet for everyone.


By Stephanie Donald


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