Where's our Coalition of the Us's?
It's now been just over 33 years since Harvey Milk was violently taken from us and I spent much of this past weekend reflecting on his work, and the work we are doing today. Recent events have reignited the movement, brought our community closer together and created new groups that have returned to a demand for full equality, not crumbs. But thinking back on "MILK", a piece of his philosophy still feels a bit lost. When Harvey first started organizing in the Castro one of his core philosophies was coalition building. He started by joining with union truck drivers in the early 1970s who weren't being paid a fare wage. In the end, he convinced gay people to boycott Coors and pushed the California Coors Beer boycott over the edge. He reached out to a seemingly unrelated group of people in need, offered our community's help, and in doing so gained Union support for LGBT equality. Union boys and Gay boys. That unlikely alliance lives on today thanks to Milk.
Unfortunately, we are at a similar moment in this country today. Workers are again suffering and now on a national level. But I'm afraid our community's response hasn't been the same. Too many LGBT people and organizations have become myopic, focused solely on our own issues. We've forgotten about what Milk called, "The coalition of the us's," and the understanding that together our communities are stronger, that we are unbeatable, even at the ballot box.
In my mind, there is no group as visible and diverse as the "OCCUPY" movement is today. I know all LGBTQ people may not agree with this "99%" movement, but this is a group that feels powerless, helpless and at its core wants a more equal shot in this country. We as a community should at least empathize with this sentiment and in my opinion do as Milk did and help support this new generation of workers.
For those willing to pitch in and help these workers, I say do it visibly, be OUT, but you don't need to ask for anything in return. This isn't quid pro quo, this is about the us's coming back together again.