An open letter to Joe Solmonese

Joe Solmonese — here he is rubbing shoulders with pseudo-progressive Billary Clinton (the Clintons did little to nothing for gay men and lesbians but they sure have liked their money!):

— is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, probably the nation’s most powerful gay and lesbian rights lobbying group.

From what I can tell, Joe really likes himself.

Well, probably not, not really, not when you really examine it. I mean, how can you sell out your people for personal gain like he does and really like yourself?

But he “likes” himself like so many pretty and rich white gay men “like” themselves, I mean.

Dear Joe (may I call you Joe?):

I have given the Human Rights Campaign a considerable amount of money, probably especially after Proposition Hate passed here in California in November. Not only am I a member of the HRC — well, I think that I’m still a member in good standing, since I still get the quarterly HRC publication Equality in the mail– but I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from the HRC website’s shop, and I do believe that I’ve made at least a few one-time online contributions to the HRC as well.

But Joe, I’m concerned.

Looking at the fall 2009 issue of Equality, I see some things that I find disturbing.

I see all of these full-page ads for corporations. There is, on page 6, a full-page ad for American Airlines. Does American Airlines pay its pilots diddly squat, like Michael Moore exposed in his latest work, “Capitalism: A Love Story”?

On page 8 of Equality is a full-page ad for Chevron. Chevron. Didn’t Condoleezza “You Know She’s Lying When Her Lips Are Moving” Rice go directly from Chevron to the BushCheneyCorp?

I mean, Chevron, Joe? Because we all know that global warming is bullshit! Condi says so!

I don’t know much about Wall Street, Joe, being quite middle class (if, um, that), but on page 10 is a full-page ad for Deloitte, on page 14 is a full-page ad for Ernst & Young, and on page 15 is a full-page ad for Citigroup. Aren’t these all players on Wall Street, and wasn’t at least one of these Wall Street players featured in “Capitalism: A Love Story” as one of the recipients of the bullshit $700 billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street? (Wasn’t it Citigroup that Moore was wrapping crime-scene tape around in “Capitalism”?)

Wait, there’s more. On page 18 is a full-page ad for Prudential.

Oh, and Chevron won’t be outdone, because on page 22 is a full-page ad for Shell Oil.

But hey, escape from all of this depressing talk about corporate responsibility and check out “the new Luxor” in Las Vegas, which has a full-page ad on page 24 (and features an apparent lesbian apparently using another apparent lesbian for her money — sweet!).  

Page 31 of the current issue of Equality advises us readers to “SUPPORT [the HRC’s] NATIONAL CORPORATE SPONSORS” and lists such corporate sponsors as American Airlines, Citigroup, Bank of America, Chevron, Harrah’s Entertainment, Nike, Shell, Chase and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Sure, there are some corporate sponsors of HRC that don’t strike me as too bad and some I haven’t even heard of, such as Google and Dell and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (is this a corporation or are these two rich gay men who are in love with each other and who would like the whole world to know by spelling it out that way?). But most of HRC’s corporate sponsors send shivers up my spine, Joe.

My point, Joe, is that it’s not enough for me to know that someone affectionately prefers members of his or her same sex like I do and/or that his or her corporation is willing to give the Human Rights Campaign some money. I want to know that a person or a corporation isn’t causing others harm, even if he or she or it is not overtly anti-gay.

And as a gay man, I’m sick and tired of being reduced to a target group by corporations that don’t wuv me, as they claim, but that just want my money. It’s calculated, Joe. Corporations almost never do anything that they don’t believe will help their profits. If appearing to be pro-gay-and-lesbian will bring in the profits, then the corporations will do it.

I look at the whole picture, Joe, not just my tiny place within it.

Your concerns might be very different from mine, Joe. You might make a lot of money as the president of the HRC, and thus these “corporate sponsors” might be very important for you to be able to continue to live in the way in which I’m guessing that you’ve become accustomed.

But, Joe, when I weigh your personal fortune against things like, oh, say, the future of the entire planet itself, the future which the likes of Chevron and Shell and many if not most other transnational corporations are threatening, well, um, no offense, Joe, but I’m going to have to put the well-being of the entire planet above your own personal well-being.

Joe, lots and lots of corporations give a teeny-tiny percentage of their obscene profits to groups like the Human Rights Campaign in order to make it look like they’re actually not that bad after all.   

But, Joe, they’re actually that bad after all.

Have you seen the documentary “Flag Wars,” Joe? (Please indulge me a little here…) In that documentary, gay men and lesbians (living in Ohio) are portrayed as selfish, cold-hearted money-grubbers who care only about their own personal fortunes.

There’s a rich white lesbian who, in one great scene, goes on a drunken rant about how great capitalism has been to her. (It’s funny how both the impoverished and the rich sure seem to like to get drunk a lot, but I digress…)

In another scene in “Flag Wars,” an apparently rich white gay man states that historical homes in his neighborhood have to be “saved” from the poor. These homes have to be snatched away from their impoverished long-time residents by rich gay men and lesbians, renovated, and then sold for big profits. Screw the poor and save the homes! That’s what the gay men and the lesbians in the film say, in effect, quite unabashedly: it’s profits over people.

What kind of human beings do we gay men and lesbians want to be, Joe?

I don’t know about you, but as for me, before I am a gay man, Joe, I am a human being, and you know what? I don’t want to be the kind of human being like the heartless gay men and lesbians who are portrayed in “Flag Wars,” and the Human Rights Campaign encourages gay men and lesbians to be this kind of human being by kowtowing to corporations, perhaps especially to the Wall Street players and big oil.

I don’t know that I can continue to be a member of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe. HRC’s pro-corporate values certainly don’t seem to be in alignment with my own values as a gay man who cares about others besides myself.

I think that I already know what your counter-argument will be, Joe: HRC really, really needs the money that the corporations throw its way. And that if you didn’t accept that money as HRC president, then someone else would. Yadda yadda yadda…

But you know what, Joe? I am sick and tired of being sold out by gay and lesbian “leaders.” It’s not just you — it’s almost all gay and lesbian “leaders” who, for just the right amount of money (which often isn’t really that much) and the opportunity to do such things as to be photographed with Billary Clinton, will sell their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters (and indeed, all of the rest of humankind) out.

So we see all kinds of things that are harmful to the gay and lesbian community. We see ads for alcohol and for bars in almost all of the gay and lesbian publications, and often a gay and lesbian community’s “leaders” (such as is the case here in Sacramento) are the owners of the gay and lesbian bars that encourage alcoholism and smoking and drunken hookups, which are so helpful for the gay and lesbian community!

We see the ads for the anti-HIV drugs placed by the big-pharma corporations in which healthy-looking, young, muscular models give gay men the idea that HIV is no big deal — if you catch it you can just take a pill.

(The other gay and lesbian “leaders” in Sacramento and elsewhere are the publishers of the gay and lesbian rags who personally profit from such advertising that actually harms the very same community that they claim they are helping.)

When we gay men and lesbians aren’t being encouraged by our “leaders” and their for-personal-profit businesses and publications to be drinking and smoking and sexing, we’re encouraged to buy stuff, to use materialism (including personal investments and pointless travel) as our drug of choice. (The fall 2009 issue of Equality also includes full-page ads for travel agencies, hotel chains and furniture.)  

Is there nothing more to being gay or lesbian than catering to our addictions to chemical substances, to sex and to money and things, Joe?

Can we gay men and lesbians perhaps be bold and brave leaders instead of being trembling followers, and help our fellow men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation, out of the spirit-and-soul-crushing effects of the humongous corporations that now control almost every aspect of our lives, even the groups like HRC that are supposed to be helping to make us free?

Joe, can you be part of a revolution that actually makes gay men and lesbians free, truly free, instead of keeping them enslaved to such things as materialism and alcoholism and sex addiction and other addictions?

Or are you utterly unable to part with the lifestyle that you have attained, even though your lifestyle comes at the expense of those you are supposed to be helping and freeing?

Please let me know, Joe.

But, truthfully, I’m not holding my breath for your response, because you seem to be addicted to corporate money, and it just might take an intervention, because I doubt that you can overcome your addiction on your own.

Thanks for listening.

Yours,

Robert Crook
Sacramento, California

P.S. From what I know of Harvey Milk and what he thought of Democrats who just use the members of the gay and lesbian community as ATMs — and what he thought of those members of the gay and lesbian community who support these Democrats — Milk is not just turning, but he is spinning, in his grave.

(Actually, you might know that Milk was cremated and not interred, but that fact just doesn’t lend itself to my point…)

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