I wonder what other people thought if they have seen the news in the Washington Blade on how much money the heads of LGBT groups are paid.
In a sense it is only the concern of those who give money to these groups.
But intelligent donors should want to know how their money is spent — a question the Johnny-Come-Lately Republicans are asking about the current stimulus money of the Obama Administration but didn’t seem to worry about when it was the Bush Administration.
But I can give a personal view, and not out of jealousy. I worked from the ’60s to today with the oldest LGBT organization, coming out of early Mattachine (and I was at the infamous Mattachine Convention in Denver that got all the publicity in Denver and San Francisco, with mostly bad results) as ONE, Inc. (est. 1952) to be the public voice, the first national publication, ONE magazine, which won the first major legal battle of our community/movement and then established the information part, ONE Institute, and then The Tangent Group / Homosexual Information Center (1965–68).
I did financial work at ONE/HIC. I helped put out the magazine. We had little income, little media support, and of our few homosexuals working with us. The opposite is true today. Every major media service is eager to support our cause. Where we had a few heterosexual attorneys, publishers/printers that helped, we could get no gay professionals to help us.
The opposite is true today. So the job of these leaders is not hard. And if we accomplished what we did — they sure have built on what we have done and in a sense are still doing with our libraries/archives — with so little support and money, they have no excuse for not doing a great job, but that does not mean I personally would accept their reasoning for taking so much money to do their job.
Again, if we are saying the Wall St. greedy people who got our nation in the financial mess we are in should not be rewarded, then we should ask why these leaders with all they have, mostly donated work they in fact refused in the Prop 8 effort, need such high salaries to do what we did with so little? And we did succeed. Have these leaders known about Harvey Milk, or seen the movie?
I would like to know where the income of these groups comes from. I suspect lots of it is tax-payer money — I’m sure the gay center in Los Angeles was donated by the government, and much of their income comes from the city/county/state. So we are entitled to know where the money goes. I wonder how easy it is for someone to get help from these gay centers in L.A., New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. I sure can remember sitting with the only person at the L.A. gay center, on weekends when it was really doing a good job, on Highland, and few people had an income from the work.
And I suspect many people have good memories from the first days of the L.A. center, at that old Victorian house on Wilshire Blvd., when Morris et al. did something and inspired so many at a time when it was a rare thing, not something seen daily on many TV shows, and written up often in the newspapers, etc.
Do young people today who have contact with gay centers come away with such a good feeling?
After all, there are now organizations specifically for help them — GLSEN, The Point Foundation, etc. And there are legal (LGBT) groups to help them, such as Lambda Legal, NCLR, GLAD, and for military issues SLDN, etc. So what does the Human Rights Campaign do? What does The Task Force do? The name doesn’t tell us whom it serves.
And who knows what the professional LGBT groups do? Do we know what the gay/lesbian journalists do? The gay physicians? And do we hear anything from the groups for sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, politics? Are they shouting in their professional silos?
I have no doubt that if the pioneers would have had the money and media support the current leaders have, they could have done even greater things. I can tell you that it sure is cheaper to reach people on the Internet than it was to type and mail letters, and to pay telephone bills. Of course we didn’t have to have expensive offices — like those bankrupt bankers do.
I know these groups will not get any financial support from me, but they do from taxpayers. And like the call to eliminate the tax-exemptions for religious organizations that indirectly get taxpayers’ money, that may come for such groups as HRC, the centers, etc.
But like a lot of things that people seem to think were better in the old days — we did the work with no income and in fact donated not only our time and energy but our money, and it was our desire to change things that gave us the motivation.
I suggest that income for these leaders be ended, and let’s see how many of them are still willing to give some of their spare time — as they earn a living elsewhere as some of us did — to the cause. Then they will deserve credit and respect. Now they don’t need that — they get lots of money as the motive.