Out Against the Right: An Organizing Handbook for Queer Activists and Grassroots Organizers
For lesbian activists and grassroots organizers fighting the Christian Right.

Thinking Up Ideas for Actions

Diligently following local news is crucial easy targets for actions will jump out at you, begging to be zapped. Make sure at least one or two people in your group are checking all news sources regularly.

When there are no current news stories providing obvious action ideas, you can brainstorm for less obvious ones. One approach is to start with a discussion of safe and unsafe spaces for local lesbians in the community. Are there businesses, cafes, bars, parks, or particular organizations where queers are either unwelcome or explicitly harassed?

For example, in Moscow, Idaho a brainstorming session of the Palouse Lesbian Avengers called our attention to the fact that the local Latah County Fair was historically an unfriendly or even hostile event for lesbians and gay men to attend. Members of the group shared stories of violence perpetuated against them and their friends at this event, and the group concluded that something had to be done.

Sometimes ideas are generated simply by keeping your eyes open. In Moscow, the centrally located "Xenon" billed itself as the "Ferrari of nightclubs. Draped over the entrance was a banner declaring the Grand Opening (they had a grand opening every year). We began chatting about the spectacle amongst ourselves until we happily imagined flyering the town with the announcement: "Welcome to the grand opening of Xenon, Moscow's first queer nightclub."

Planning Your Action

     Once you've had your organizing vision, you need to figure out how to implement it. Many actions fall apart right at the beginning poor organizing at this stage can mean that crucial things get left out, some people get burdened with all the work, or there's no communication between different committees, etc.

     One method we use is to select one or two co-coordinators who are responsible for communication among group members, and for keeping track of who's doing what by when. These co-coordinators simply keep a list of everyone who's agreed to do something, and call these people now and then to make sure it's getting done.

     Next we divide up everything that needs to be done and see who wants to do it. The variety of tasks might include: research and reconnaissance, media, visuals, marshals and legal observers, graphics, and flyering. Some of these, such as media and flyering, are covered in other chapters of the handbook (see "Getting the Word Out"). Those that aren't are discussed below.

Researching Your Ideas

     Careful research is always an important element in planning a visibility action. Direct, specific zaps require correct information about the group/place/person you are targeting.

     Plan a reconnaissance of your action location. It's best to investigate at a time that will be similar to your action time in terms of the crowd, security, light, etc. Go with a few people; draw the area on paper so you can show the rest of the group. If possible, take pictures.

     If you're targeting a person, find exact quotes of homophobic things they've said or policies they've supported. Put these on your flyers or fact sheets. If you think they're homophobic but don't have proof, call them up and ask them leading questions.

     Resources such as statistics on violence or suicide can be found with your state anti-violence project or lesbian and gay center. If you don't have one of these, try the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C.

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