In from the Gay Liberation Network of Chicago.
In Failing to Support Bradley Manning, They Betray Their Own Mission Statements and Fail to Promote an Inclusive Justice Agenda
One of the signature traits of the LGBT subculture in the United States is its adoration of celebrity. If a well-known person voices the most milk-toast notion that gays are human beings, let alone deserving of legal equality, banner headlines in the gay press are guaranteed. If the celebrity comes out as gay, even more effusive coverage is given.
Any number of fading stars and starlets, and non-entities on the make, from Lady Gaga to Chaz Bono to Ricky Martin, have mined the LGBT community to support their careers. Our community’s eager rush to embrace just about any celebrity who deigns to notice our existence is emblematic of our lack of self-esteem, our internalized homophobia.
So why is it that all of the big gay non-profits, from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — “Gay Inc.” — have failed to utter a word of support for Private Bradley Manning, let alone really campaign for him?
He’s gay, has moderately high name recognition, and unlike any number of air-head celebrities, he’s actually done something to support social justice, rather than mined charitable causes for personal fame and fortune.
Manning’s contributions to human rights have been recounted frequently enough to require only a brief recitation here. He exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq    and Afghanistan. His exposure of the corruption of the oligarchy in Tunisia helped kick off the ‘Arab Spring,’ toppling U.S.-supported dictators around the region.
He exposed the Obama administration’s support for the 2009 military coup in Honduras , the first successful Latin American coup in a decade and half, that led to a wave of violence against LGBTs and others, making it the murder capital of the world.
The list goes on. No less an authority than Daniel Ellsberg, exposer of the Vietnam War era Pentagon Papers, has said Bradley Manning “is a hero in my heart. He did what he should have done.”
Besides the Honduran angle – 89 LGBTs murdered over three and a half years in a country of less than 8 million, including leading activists like Walter Trochez and Erick Martinez Avila – there are other LGBT angles that NGLTF and HRC could have highlighted. The sexually humiliating torture that Manning received, stripped naked in a cell for days on end, ordered by no less than a two-star general – was tinged in homophobia, and yet where were the protests from the gay human rights groups? Not even a token press release.
If a homophobe had so much as broken Chaz Bono’s finger nail, rest assured that assured GLAAD, NGLTF and HRC would have been on the case. But why the silence about Manning?
It’s political cowardice. A failure to take on “difficult” political subjects, particularly when doing so might bite the (Democratic Party) hands that feed them.
This same failure of political courage is why gay NGOs routinely fail to take on powerful anti-gay forces like the Mormon Church and Catholic Church leaderships (frequently allied with powerful local and national Democratic politicians), even when these religious leaders are pushing discriminatory referenda like Prop 8. Even when such failure spells defeat for gay rights (unlike back in the day when Harvey Milk, et al., took on Anita Bryant and the Briggs Amendment, and won). (more…)