HRC seems to be more and more devoted to ass kissing. That way lies disaster. We've got to teach them: You don't suck up. There's a great deal of feeling that all they do is pay to go to parties in Washington, to be on the circuit, to be seen, as if that amounts to much.
I never saw an organization exist so long, raise so much money, and do so little.
--Larry Kramer to the Village Voice, December15-21, 2004
Friday night a Human Rights Campaign representative called our house asking to speak with either Peter or me. I have, for quite some time now, not been a fan of the HRC. (I'm sure there's some archived post with me ranting about the HRC.)
To avoid talking to the individual, but to stay polite, I asked if we could call a number back. When I was told no that it was a phone campaign and that they would just call back, I asked if there was a website we could visit.
The person explained that they were running a membership renewal drive. I explained nicely that we would not be renewing our membership. The person asked me if it was because of the elections. You mean the one where not nearly enough Replublicans were unseated and where even more states passed anti-gay legislation? No, the election has nothing to do with it I replied.
Because, I explained in somewhat peturbed tones, I believe that the HRC does not spend its money effectively and caters mostly to the wealthy in the gay community and not enough to the average gay American.
Case in point: the ticket price for the 2007 HRC Carolinas Gala (a not uncommon event held by the HRC) is a not uncommon $175, jumping to $195 after February 1st. Or you can purchase a premium location table for ten at the low, low price of $2500. The guest speaker is comedian/actor Leslie Jordan, who I greatly enjoy but whose theatrical productions I can buy for much cheaper or just watch him on Will and Grace for free.
I neglected to add to the phone rep that I agree with Larry Kramer on the fact that the HRC frequently takes credit for things that it really had nothing whatsoever to do with (like the failure of the federal Constitutional amendment not being passed). I also didn't add that, based on my informal observations and conversations with a trusted friend who would know, that our local HRC chapter is exceptionally exclusive and cliquish.
Doing nothing to change my perceptions about the HRC, the solicitor responded in an indignant and snobbish "Sir, that's not true." I explained that, from my point of view, indeed, it was and hung up.
One might reasonably expect that any random individual treat one with respect and courtesy; one might even more reasonably expect that an individual asking for one's money would be exceptionally courteous, not to summarily dismiss my opinion.
I understand I just dumped on his organization. But he asked and one should not ask for what one is not prepared to hear. Might I suggest that a proper response would have been a sincere "I'm sorry you feel that way." Might I suggest that a great follow up after that would have been: "is there anything we can do to change your mind?"
Perhaps even a "F--k you, we don't need your stinking money 'cause we throw fancy dinners you can't afford" would have been preferrable to the intellectual equivalent of the familiar childhood refrain "am not."
I would hope that somebody representing an organization whose mission is to spread acceptance, understanding, equality, and to make the voice of gay Americans heard would actually demonstrate those qualities and listen to a fellow member of the gay community even if we disagree.
I have written to the HRC - I'll let you know if and how they respond.