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

LACROP: Getting Started

     The idea was for LACROP to focus on national mobilization against the onslaught of statewide anti-lesbian and -gay initiatives promoted by the Christian Right. At that point, we all knew what we were after the magical sight of powerful, out dykes fighting back we just weren't sure what that meant logistically. So we picked up the phone and started calling around to find out.

We looked under every rock and road map and sure enough we were everywhere. As we gathered information from dykes in each state facing the possibility of a ballot initiative that campaign year (Arizona, California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington), it became clear that in each case there was one unified state-wide campaign which had almost all the money and resources available in that state. These state-wide campaigns often shared a mainstream political vision which did not include or even permit any other kinds of organizing. We found that there were plenty of dykes wanting to do out, visible grassroots organizing, but they had no support. Many saw their only options as (1) to work within the tightly controlled framework of the mainstream campaigns (one state-wide campaign actually required volunteers to sign agreements about what they would and wouldn't say and do during the campaign), or (2) to try to work on their own without the benefit of any of the resources money, research materials, skills, and support systems that were provided by national mainstream lesbian and gay individuals and organizations.

These dykes, who wanted to fight the initiatives without giving up their political style or independence, were under siege twice: once by the Christian Right, which deliberately chose to target regions where queers were isolated and had relatively small support systems, and again by the mainstream campaigns, which wanted to control the strategy for everyone and were not willing to share what scarce resources there were.

As we talked with these activists more, we realized that we had access to many of the resources they lacked. We could effectively fundraise and do leg-work, like preliminary research, gathering equipment, office supplies, and supportive mailing lists, without taking resources away from the state fighting the initiative. As political activists with organizing experience in New York and Maine, we had certain skills, experiences, and contacts to offer. And we knew what we didn't want to do--quickie workshops that just told people what to do and then left town. We wanted to offer long-term, day-to-day support that would allow us to work with local activists, and would create an atmosphere of mutual learning and political growth for the duration of the campaign and beyond. Finally our project began to take shape.

With this plan in mind, we embarked on an intense six month, two- pronged effort to send some dykes from New York to work with and support dykes in one of the states under siege. Our initial work was divided between fundraising and research. Those six months of preparation in New York made it painfully clear just how much work (beyond your actual paying job) goes into fighting these things. From January to June we fundraised incessantly through direct mail, benefits, parties, occasional pleading at the office, begging from our friends, passing hats at dyke bars, you name it. We also made about a million phone calls to lesbians in the six targeted states, read everything we could get our hands on concerning the Christian Right, and met other organizers while running workshops in New York, Arizona, Georgia and Oregon. We were in touch with so many dykes fighting the right around the country that we were able to create a manifesto representing a sample of our voices and strategies. We used the opportunity of the 25th anniversary of Stonewall held in New York in June 1994, to distribute 5000 Dyke Manifestos alerting people to the realities of anti-lesbian/gay/bisexual/transsexual / transgendered initiatives. Whew!

At this point, we'd informally like to thank Citibank, AC&R Advertising, Scholastic Books, CUNY University Graduate School and a host of others who will remain in the closet, so to speak, for all the computer time, copy machine (and paper) use, paper clips, phone calls, stamps, and yes, sometimes, salaries paid to dykes doing basically nothing but organizing on corporate time and money.

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