For lesbian activists and grassroots organizers fighting the Christian Right.
Introduction: Lesbian Avengers Go to Maine
In the fall of 1993, the New York Lesbian Avengers went to Lewiston, Maine to work with local lesbian and gay activists against the Christian Right initiative to repeal Lewiston's anti-discrimination ordinance. We had experience in political organizing against the Christian Right, but hadn't done anti-initiative organizing in a small town. We definitely made some mistakes. The biggest one was agreeing to support the mainstream campaign against the initiative. What we didn't know was that this organization was alienating many lesbians and gay men in the town by asking them to stay in the closet and by giving them no political input or decision-making power. This was being done in the name of "campaign strategy".
We quickly fell into conflict with Equal Protection Lewiston over its support of the closet, and eventually split off from the organization to work with independent lesbian and gay activists in Lewiston. We learned a lot from--and with--these smart and courageous organizers. We learned what it meant to coordinate a door-to-door canvassing effort in the town's low-income district; how to pull off a lesbian and gay "roundtable discussion" whose speakers were so powerful that audience members started unexpectedly coming out in front of the TV cameras; and what it felt like to watch previously closeted teachers, diner owners, and teenagers march down the street together for the first time in their lives.
Our mistakes in Lewiston taught us a lot about campaigns and politics. But it was our successful experiences with local activists that really inspired us, because these gave us a glimpse of what an out, proud, and courageous movement against the Christian Right could look like. It was this inspiration that led us, in January of 1994, to form The Lesbian Avengers Civil Rights Organizing Project (LACROP) as a working group of the New York Lesbian Avengers.
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