I am ready for summer to begin. From the time I finished my short three-year teaching career, I have viewed summer as beginning on Memorial Day and lasting until Labor Day. Like many others in D.C., I often complain about the hot, humid summers but this year we all got to complain about the long, cold, snowy winter.
It seemed we went from snow on the ground for much of March to 80-degree temperatures by Easter Sunday. It was great seeing the kids participating in the White House Easter Egg Roll wearing shorts and T-shirts instead of the down jackets they had to wear last year.
But one of the main reasons that many of us in the LGBT community look forward to summer is the end of the formal D.C. fundraising season. The very short season that we have here in D.C. known as spring brings literally dozens of invitations each week to fundraising events. They seem to multiply like rabbits year to year. If your bank account allows, you could be out every night of the week to one or more fundraisers ranging in cost from $25 to thousands for federal political candidates and non-profits. Between the politicians and all the organizations asking for donations it seems that professional fundraisers believe the LGBT community in Washington, D.C., is made of money.
Today we don’t print many invitations anymore. You are invited to part with your money by e-mail, evite or on Facebook. Facebook has made inviting people to an event so easy. Just one click and thousands of people get your event announcement. Then Tweet about it and, if you’re Ashton Kutcher, millions more can get it.
Every LGBT candidate from around the nation has a friend in D.C. that is raising money for them. I know how important it is but there are times I think it would be nice to live somewhere like Akron so I wouldn’t have to hear about all this. I know who is running in San Antonio and San Diego but am sure they don’t have the slightest idea who is running here in D.C. They often see us only as the pot of gold at the end of their rainbow.
I know the importance of giving money to candidates from across the nation and I follow the Victory Fund endorsement list to see who has a chance to win. Springtime in D.C. brings invites from SLDN, Whitman-Walker Clinic, Victory Fund and the Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, to mention just a few. Then there are our own LGBT candidates running for office who want and need our support. David Catania running as an independent for D.C. Council; Jim Graham and Clark Ray running as Democrats for the Council; and Dana Beyer running for the Maryland Legislature. This year we even have a few gays of the Republican persuasion running for D.C. Council. And then there are some local and national straight candidates who will have an impact on our lives who need our money. Those of us in the LGBT community must have an aura that suggests we all have money trees growing in our living rooms or gardens.
Over the years I have been as guilty as anyone when it comes to sending out invites to fundraisers and asking people for money. Between the political candidates I support, my ARTS in ACTION events, and other organizations it got to the point that some friends, when I reached them on the phone, would simply ask, “who or what now, and how much?”
So now I have begun to limit the invitations I send out to events for organizations and candidates that are based in D.C. and serve people here. While I will continue to lend my name to invites for a national candidate or to someone running for office from another state or city if people feel it is useful, I will focus on helping organizations like SMYAL, MetroTeen AIDS, Whitman-Walker Clinic, and Us Helping Us, among others, and local candidates like Catania, Beyer and Ray who will have a direct impact on the lives of people living here in D.C. That will have to suffice until I win the lottery.
So I look forward to Memorial Day and moving into summer. Then like so many other Washingtonians, and members of the LGBT community in Baltimore and Philadelphia, I will start spending my weekends in Rehoboth Beach where I can at least wear shorts and sandals to the weekend fundraisers. But more on Rehoboth in another column.
Peter Rosenstein is a D.C.-based LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist.