June 29, 2011 | by Phil Reese
HRC store vandalized; radical queer group claims responsibility

WASHINGTON — The Dupont Circle Human Rights Campaign store was vandalized last night by a group claiming to be paying homage to the Stonewall Riots.

HRC vandalized

Damage to the HRC store in Dupont Circle was minimal. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The group, which called themselves “The Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers’ Traveling, Drinking and Debating Society and Men’s Auxiliary,” claims to have “poured pink paint into light bulbs, grabbed hammers,” before vandalizing the store, which according to HRC offers “a unique fusing of education and grassroots advocacy with HRC’s signature merchandise.”

All damage appears to be mostly cosmetic, with paint splatters visible on the windows of the store, and the word “Stonewall” spray-painted on the sidewalk immediately in front of the store.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, Director of Communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said in response to the vandalism, “HRC’s DC Action Center and Store was vandalized last night with paint on the front windows and an LGBT group has claimed responsibility for the crime. It’s unfortunate that after a marriage win in New York that represented an unprecedented coming together of LGBT groups, some are more interested in fostering division in the community.”

The full text of the offending group’s press release is bellow:

ROWDY QUEERS TRASH AND GLAMDALIZE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN GIFT SHOP IN WASHINGTON, DC ON THE 42nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL RIOTS

HRC vandalized

The word Stonewall painted on the sidewalk in front of the HRC store. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(In the wee hours of June 29, 2011)

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gift shop in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC is a god awful monstrosity. We were in there yesterday and between wiping our genitals on the clothing and discovering that the snow globes wouldn’t properly fit up our bums, we got to thinking:

“This place would look great with a bit of shattered glass and splattered paint.”

So we strapped on our riot chaps, poured pink paint into light bulbs, grabbed hammers, and went party party party! all over that tacky testament to the transformation of radical queer liberation into consumer junk.

We’ve got good reason. This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

On the night of June 28, 1969, New York City’s Public Morals Squad did a routine raid of an East Village gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. Everything was going fine until, in the midst of the standard genital check that police forced on draq queens, a lesbian beaned a cop straight in the head with a ripped-up parking meter. And so queer liberation was born.

The modern LGBT movement owes its success to three days of smashing, burning, punching, and kicking–all of it happily indiscriminate–and the confrontational tactics of groups like ACT-UP that followed in the decades since. Yet, somehow we’ve forgotten our riotous roots.

Gay Pride, for example, wasn’t always a suburban county fair with less fanny packs and lined with banks and politicians. The first Pride was the 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day march, a celebration of the riots the year before (and to this day, Pride festivals the world over are celebrated in June).

But we’ve been snorting ritalin and drinking whiskey all night and this manifesto tomfoolery is wearing us down so let’s bring it home, shall we?

Why, you’re asking, did we specifically target the HRC, a massive national gay rights non-profit as opposed to vomiting urine on Rick Santorum or something equally fun?

Put simply, they suck. What do they suck? Cash. Lots of it.

The HRC rakes in something approaching 50 million dollars a year in revenue–their executive director, Joe Salmonellamayonaisemanese pulls in a salary of several hundred grand. What have we gotten out of this bloated carcass? Not a thing worth mentioning and every now and then, they eagerly sell trans people up the river. Seriously, this is an organization that hordes money and does nothing useful. It’s a sad, sick dinosaur.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC violence against the LGBT community is on the rise; DC’s only LGBT center is forced to go hat in hand to real estate developers and beg for space, only to face eviction a few years down the road; We lack a homeless shelter for queer youth and services for our community are the victims of budget cuts. Can you think of something better to do with a few million dollars?

(Did you know that 50 million dollars can buy about 300 thousand pounds of glitter?)

Everyone: We know you mean well, but stop giving these idiots your money. Stop putting that equal sticker on your car. Stop going to their lame galas. And for the love of Judy Garland’s Ghost and Robert Mapplethorpe’s Zombie Bones, stop saying “It Gets Better” and hoping for a miracle from up on high. We don’t expect you to riot (although we swear you’ll love it once you get going!) but it’s time for us to quit with the passivity, move to action, build community and care for each other instead of hoping the Gay Non-Profit Industrial Complex will ever get anything done.

Sincerely,

THE RIGHT HONORABLE WICKED STEPMOTHERS’ TRAVELING, DRINKING AND DEBATING SOCIETY AND MEN’S AUXILIARY

The group posted a copy of their press release here.

 

54 Comments
  • If HRC wasn’t so arrogant about claiming responsibility for NYS marriage equality (sorry y’all, you weren’t the “secret weapon”) and so quick to throw us transpeople under the bus on GENDA, they might not have LGBT groups pissed at them.

  • Carlton Van Nostrand

    The Stonewall is in the West Village, geniuses.

  • I can’t say that I agree with the tactics, but I do support the underlying message. I wish HRC would get back to its grassroots already.

    • HRC’s grassroots are only as good as the volunteers who get involved. If you want HRC to get back to its grassroots, then get involved with the organization and make it happen!

  • As an average gay male I do not feel organizations like HRC and GLAAD represent me because in actuality they simply do not. I view them as more of DC social clubs where only those with money have any true influence. Personally, I’d much rather donate money or time to a local HIV/AIDS charity or GLBT youth homless shelter. At least there I know the money is actually doing some good for my community.

    • HRC has local steering committees that are entirely run by volunteers, many who aren’t wealthy and are only trying to make a difference. You don’t need to have money to influence HRC!

  • Wow. Points off for misspelling “hoards” though.

  • Remember the recorded phone conversation in which Scott Walker said to “fake Koch” that he had considered planting troublemakers to help him break up the pro-union movement? Or documents obtained by FOIA that show FBI infiltration used against the animal rights movement?
    Part of me is concerned this group is of the same ilk—an outsider to LGBT issues appears to be working to make us look stupid and infight. Also, does spray-painting a public street shared by many businesses that cater to the gay community really seem like something a good neighbor and supportive person would do? I vote dubious.

    • I agree. There are so many historical errors in the press release that it makes me wonder if this action wasn’t actually done by fringe people from HRC to make the radical queer movement look ridiculous. What bunch of rad queer activists wouldn’t know where the Stonewall rebellion took place?? Also, the pink paint “vandalism” looks more like a carefully placed decorative touch then an act of angry rebellion.

      • However, that said… I do think the HRC does nothing but take pink dollars from well meaning folks to line their pockets! i don’t support the HRC and never have. If I have money to give I give it directly to small (truly) non-profit queer organizations that are actually helping people in a real way on a daily basis.

  • Hysterical. How appropriate – anarchy in the District of Anarchy. If the bulk of gays only knew and appreciated how well we have it here in the USA compared to most of the rest of the world…

    • Ignorant thinking.. we are leaders for the rest of the world.. wake up sheeple!!

    • People in the 3rd World are dying of parasitic infestations. Suck it up and be happy you have prostate cancer.

    • This is really a protest against capital / monetization. Its only relation to gays is that, in THIS building a faux participation in LGBT struggle is being sold as a consumer good — whereas in the adjoining buildings, some other line of bullshit is disguising the pure profit motive.

      It is also true that ALL graffitti is a protest against the monetization of control over our shared visual landscape. Why should ¢apital decide whether Stonewall is commemorated at this address?

  • First the scandals and fallout at GLAAD and now this. The GLBTTI is finally striking back at these groups and in my opinion, it is long overdue. GLAAD is nothing more than a wine and dine social club and a rehabilitation center for wayward homophobic celebrities and HRC is just as bad in its way. They claim to support transgender/transsexual/intersex rights but they continue to throw us to the side to let GLB go through. When you look at the numbers, it is simple.. these boards are heavy with non-trans people (GLAAD only has one person). Why? Because the trans community is the most oppressed of the GLBTTI, they are not able to command the 7-figure net-worths necessary to buy their way on to the board of directors for these organizations. It’s time we move back to the grassroots and think about who is representing us. Gay is big business.

  • HRC offers “a unique fusing of education and grassroots advocacy with HRC’s signature merchandise.”

    Are you fricking kidding me?!?! Education and grassroots advocacy can NEVER com from capitalism! HRC has got to be the most willfully ignorant morons on earth.

    Hey, Michael Cole-Schwartz, you’re right that the marriage win in NY was part of “an unprecedented coming together of LGBT groups”. Now how about you show the T that the LBG can come together and pass GENDA? The REAL “division in the community” comes from groups like yours which consistently throw the T under the bus.

  • What is going on? We are finally making some progress and this happens?! This is just going to give us a bad name. We aren’t going to get any further if things like this keep happening we need to work together not apart. We need to love and support and not fight each other! This rediculous! Stay focussed on what is important everybody! <3

    • Well that’s the point, isn’t it? We’ve been incredibly focused on some serious issues for decades while the major non-profits like HRC advocate one or two issues that disproportionally benefit rich, white, gay men. They’re trying to bring the focus back to the most vulnerable members of the community.

      By the way, literally every single action taken by any LGBT organization, from pride parades to condemnations of cowardly politicians, has been criticized as “giving us a bad name.” That concern in and of itself is not a valid argument not to do it.

      • I didn’t realize that fighting for marriage equality, campaigning against anti-gay political candidates, and repealing DADT (three of HRC’s biggest priorities in recent years) “disproportionally benefit rich, white, gay men.” If you want HRC to focus on other issues, then you need to get involved with the organization (anybody can; it’s quite easy) and make it happen!

    • Stay focused on “what’s important?” Maybe part of what’s important is actual trans liberation. Maybe part of “what’s important” is not letting organizations like HRC suck up millions of dolloars while homeless queer youth are starving to death on the streets.

  • Hoorah!! Finally the gay community is waking up to the hypocrites that run DC LGBT organizations like HRC, GLAAD, and NGLCC – all of which are shills for their corporate sponsors.

    Case in point: NGLCC’s big dinner on Wall Street every year where the NYSE, Wall Street firms and NGLCC cheer each other on their progress. The reality is quite different. There is not a single gay or lesbian senior executive, senior economist, or senior market strategists in any of the major Wall Street firms that is gay/lesbian. The glass ceiling is operating just like it did 30 years ago.

    If HRC or NGLCC really want to know if a corporation is progressive, simply ask the company’s HR department for the % of senior executives who put ‘single’ down on the 1099 form. Why? Because even if you list a partner with your firm, you still have to put ‘single’ for tax purposes. And there is an unwritten rule on Wall Street and most major corporations that you are not promoted to senior executive ranks if you are single. It is a clever way to weed out the gays.

    As with most of DC’s organizations, their main function is to self-perpetuate. They have long ago lost their mission.

  • This action reflects how out of touch most large Gay Inc groups are from the vast majority of queers. It’s all about wealthy donors, and the rest of us are shut out.

  • I’m not a huge fan of HRC, but what do you suppose this stunt is going to accomplish? Is this our decade’s equivalent of Stonewall or of dropping the Eucharist on the floor of the cathedral?

  • While I understand the underlying message of their actions, the tactics of this group will ultimately backfire. By attacking HRC in a violent way, they make HRC the empathetic victim. Why don’t you do some investigative journalism on the problems at HRC or the gallons of corporate money they launder? Instead, you throw pink paint on their storefront and throw a tantrum. Children.

    • Yeah That Flaming Guy Over There

      Because no amount of investigative journalism has proven remotely useful. Every few years there are stories on the salaries of HRC’s “leadership”, HRC says “It’s comparable to other nonprofits in DC with our budget,” and everyone goes on their merry way. It’s incredibly difficult to prove incompetence through journalism, and no one pays attention even when they do.

  • empathetic = sympathetic :)

  • defacing property is not the correct way to get a point across. It undermines what you are truly standing for, anyone who is supporting this act should be ashamed of themselves.

  • HRC is a largely ineffective organization, and it’s tactics and policies are deeply flawed. But this paint-throwing incident was pathetic, childish and ineffectual. It was an unfunny prank, which at best will be forgotten soon, and at worst garner the HRC some sympathy support.

  • These dumbasses seem to miss the fact that Stonewall involved members of the LGBT community uniting in taking a stand against their oppressors, rather than creating division and attacking one of their own. It also is a strange time to be attacking HRC. HRC had 30 paid field staff in New York over the past month and the overwhelming majority of letters that went to NY legislators were provided to constitents by HRC. Marriage equality is a tremendous advance and it came about due to grassroots organizing, and HRC undeniabbly had a tremendous hand in that. It is sad that some in the LGBT community get upset that they are priced out of attending an HRC gala and miss the party, but they should realize that they too benefit from the money raised at these events.

    • And what did HRC’s left hand do while its right hand was “in the movement”? Come on, don’t be a naive fool: HRC is selling your ideals to you in the form of merchandise. They are directing movement energy for their own ends, not to mention (pseudo-)movement money into their pockets. Don’t be a sucker!

  • ho hum, boorrring. Next time focus your anger on NOM or Santorum or Bachmann. Or just stay home and talk ‘radicalization’ when you get drunk or high.

  • the proletarii speak, and history is repeated. The Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers’ Traveling, Drinking and Debating Society and Men’s Auxiliary hearken back to stonewall, but IMO this shit goes back through the millenia.

    it’s unfortunate that HRC suffered damage and gential wiping, but really, would ths attention be given to TRHWSTDDSMA (phew!) if they hadn’t been so extreme? people have been complaining about the bourgeois aspect of the HRC for a while now. it WOULD be nice if things seemed more, ironically, = for all. i dont know if there’s more inequality amongst the actual L-G-B-T-Q acronym, or if there’s more between the economics of who-has-what-and-how-it’s-spent. certainly as a bisexual man, i feel under-represented in it all. but i also share TRHWSTDDSMA’s frustration about how HRC allocates its dollars.

    i have to say, i’m quite impressed that TRHWSTDDSMA figured that 50 million dollars can buy about 300 thousand pounds of glitter! (maybe glitter is the answer after all?)

    “care for each other.”
    care for each other. care for each other. care for each other.

  • by the way… about a month ago i was walking past stonewall with a client of mine. a 55-year-old-good-looking-previously-married man, he’s in the process of coming out. we were tooling around the village, and as we approached the stonewall inn i told him about it. he was he unaware of its history. then he told me he had never stepped foot in a gay bar. suddenly i thought, what a great moment on his coming out journey! we went in, had a drink, met some guys, and chatted up Tree (the bartender who was there in ’69). not a bad first gay bar experience, eh?

  • This. Is. Awesome.

  • Yeah That Flaming Guy Over There

    It won’t make us look great, but honestly a) Who outside the gay community pays any attention to community in-fighting anyway? and b) I’m sorry, but they have a point. HRC likes to take gay community money in spades and doesn’t actually get results for any of it. They run from fights in Maryland, and when a state group manages by some miracle to get the work done they swoop in and take credit for the whole thing to bolster donations. They kiss the butts of politicians and beg and cheer for scraps of rights…and yet they’re considered our leaders. It’s about time someone pointed out all the ways they’re not helping the community OR its people.

  • Instead of destroying a half ass organization trying to do good how about your freaks start your own…

  • I was wondering, those of you who are complaining about HRC, GLAAD, etc, exactly what do you do to advance equality?

  • and why are these supposed gay people vandalizing a gay establishment–were they dropped on heads when they were younger

  • $50 million is ALOT of money. What are the specific accomplishments of the HRC in recent years?

    • You can find out what HRC is doing with that money here: http://www.hrc.org.

      • It says:

        > Founded in 1980, the Human Rights Campaign advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes
        > grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to
        > office and educates the public about LGBT issues.

        That’s all fine, but isn’t what they really do to capitalize on volunteer labor and LGBT good will and use it to pay for huge salaries and expensive retail rental? Remember, this is an attack on a retailer in the name of homeless shelters: in other words, it is against the allocation of property according to the profit-seeking motive, and for the allocation of property according to the needs of LGBT’s truly oppressed.

        And HRC is all about the opposite: they represent the profit-seeking motive directing allocation. HRC’s website is a giant advertisement for itself: that is how they choose to allocate YOUR ATTENTION. Don’t kid yourself: HRC is a money-gobbling beast that in the long run must be slain. Let the retail stores and professional ad campaigns starve; feed instead those who seek asylum from their sexually oppressive families. (America is especially harsh: adolescents are not allowed to work full-time, nor borrow for college on their own credit, nor draw any form of social security; everything costs money; and family bonds rarely extend beyond the nucleus.) Buy something real (for someone else) instead of a hyped up symbolic substitute for charity. If you’re getting a product with your donation, something is amiss: some professional huckster is selling you a product on his charitable good nature.

        Let’s be clear though, all those LGBT volunteers for HRC aren’t a part of HRC, and aren’t going to disappear if/when HRC salaries do. Hopefully they will better allocate their efforts when they have got more direct control over them. When they are not organized by some corporate profit-seeking machine, their organization will be superior in effectiveness.

  • It’s certainly very easy to be cynical about HRC, especially when your only contact with them is an endless flood of emails and letters asking for money. I certainly had given up on HRC for a while. But then last year my husband started volunteering for them, and it really opened my eyes to the huge amount of very good work that HRC does. I’ve worked at the HRC booth at Pride festivals; people come up with very real concerns, and HRC employees talk to them at length about the steps HRC is taking to address those concerns. It may not be the civil disobedience of old, but they are working within the system to make real change. They have also done a huge deal to build support among straight allies. When wives with homophobic husbands bring their children to HRC events, that’s real progress. Before people dismiss HRC I’d like them to do more research, maybe even get involved. Have you ever contacted your local steering committee? Have you attended any local HRC events so you can experience firsthand the work they do? If you think that HRC is not standing up for the trans community, then get involved and use your voice to make it happen! A day later, I’m still very saddened by this story. I’m not by any means against civil disobedience under appropriate circumstances, but in this case it just seems to me to be uninformed and unproductive.

  • Oh, and here’s my thoughts on “Marriage Equality”: http://saffolicious.blogspot.com/2010/01/fuck-marriage.html

    FUCK MARRIAGE! And fuck these fuckers who waste millions of dollars on “marriage equality” while people are dying in the streets. Assholes.

  • Right on! Besides the factual issues within the Press Release about the Stonewall Riots, I think these people were spot on with their indictment of HRC. I would join them if I were younger, honestly.

  • Like any other radical movement, the “Gay Rights” movement will self destruct with instances such as this. I am out, proud and gay, but I do not let it define who I am. Anyone who allows their sexuality to steer their course will crash and burn. Just look at the recent plight of Anthony Weiner, or Chris Lee. I will continue to temper my emotions, approaching all situations with a garbage in/garbage out mindset. So far, it hasn’t done wrong by me. Too many of my gay friends allow themselves to be self catagorized as GAY men and women, and not men and women who are GAY. There is a huge difference. As one who does not wear my heart on my sleeve, I don’t feel it proper to wear my penis there as well.

  • I FEEL THEY’RE PAIN TO SOME EXTENT,; WHEN I AND SOME OTHER STAFF ,NOTICED THAT TRANS YOUTHS WERE BEING TURNED AWAY DURING 2009 WINTER HYPOTHERMIA SEASON @ THE (CITY FUNDED) 2nd & D SHELTER, WE CALLED THE HRC,AND WERE SHOCKED TO FIND OUT JUST LIKE THE ACLU; THAT IF ;”WASN’T GOING TO SET A PRECIDENT WE ARENT GETTIN EVOLVED!” ATITUDE, THEY DID SUGGEST & SENT A LIST O LAWYERS ETC.THIS HOWEVER FALL ON DEAF EARS TO A YOUNG PERSON needing a SAFE,WARM PLACE TO SLEEP AT NITE,REMEMBER; HISTORY TEACHES US THAT HUNGRY WILL BE YOUR PROBLEM IF YOU NEGLECT THEM LONG ENOUGH !

  • THE HUNGRY ,NEGLECTED,SILENT MAJORITY WILL ACT OUT IF ABUSED AND OPPRESED FOR T(O LONG!,,,REMEMBER THE MT. PLEASANT RIOTS IN THE 90S, WHEN HISPANICS RIOTED FOR A FEW DAYS TURNING ADAMS MORGAN INTO A NO-GO AREA,, THOSE LIFE LONG YOUNGER RESIDENTS LIJE MY SELF WERE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER WHY 14 th st WAS A WRECK AFTER THE 1960s RIOTS BUT WE SURE REMEMBER THE MT PLEASANT RIOTS & LED UP ETO THEM!,,,AN UNWILLINGNESS TO LISTEN, AND BRING BOTH THE HAVES & HAVE NOTS TO THE TABLE ON DECISITIONS THAT AFFECTED EVERYONE IN THAT NEIHBORHOOD !IF YOU REMEMBER ANYTHING YOULL REMEMBER THE APARTMENTS THAT FELL INTO DISREPAIR & THE PROMISES TO FIX UP & RE PATRIATE THOSE SAME HISPANIC FAMILYS BACK TO THEY’RE APTS?? DIDNT HAPPEN ,IN SHORT THEY WANTED TO GENTRIFI MT PLEASANT FOR THE MANY RE LOCATING GOV WORKERS MOVING INTO THE CITY, AH LIEBENSTRAUM SW’EET LIEBENSTAUM !WELL THE SPANISH REFUSED TO GIVE UP THEYRE HARD EARNED RENTALS AND GO SILENTLY OFF TO,LANGLEY PARK OR WOODBRIDGE AND FOUGHT BACK!
    People pushed inton a dire situation like animals ,will DIE ON THEIR FEET !!!

  • are you kidding? stonewall created TONS of division. should it not have happened because it upset reformist types from groups like the mattachine society (or you) ?

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