Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Divinci Code ala Corneliusonpoint!



In our 24 hour world of news cycles and breaking news, The Body Politic dilligently strives to stay current. Often news within the GLBTQ community requires additional research and or fact checking. It is apart of our mission to disseminate, disect, deliver and sometimes be disquieting about what's going on in the four corners of Arkansas and beyond. This site has all intentions of informing as well as entertaining our readers from an empowering point of view. As 2007 arrives,our goal is to turn up the volume and seriously focus the spotlight on the global issues that are important to all aspects of the GLBTQ community overall. Hopefully we want to take a pro-active stance, acting as a conduit or facilitator to building bridges to a more dynamic future.

Who, What When. As World AIDS Day 2006 folds into the history books, we must assess the successes and improvements that are needed to make this day more significant in Arkansas. Around the state there were a smattering of activity that wasn't coordinated in a fashion that could have maximized it's total affect. The Body Politic offered and distributed poster art work supplied by the WAD committee. Yet, we discovered that only one poster was actually utilized. Meanwhile, a Run/Walk in West Memphis, candlelight vigil in Fayetteville, fundraisers in Little Rock, and forum at UCA were held without adequate promotion by the local GLBTQ community at large. Each event had it's significance but, to our dismay, still many people didn't have a clue that Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day or how to actively participate. Even the televised AIDS in Arkansas 2006 produced by AETN, featuring the Arkansas AIDS Foundation lacked the promotion that it deserved despite being coupled with more prominent PBS programming, A Closer Walk. However, even more interesting is the "premier AIDS service organization" perception the organization presented on a show that they didn't actively promote to the community or stakeholders.

Pride in the City. The Little Rock Pride Committee after being taken to task by miffed and annoyed lavender citizens is making strong efforts to create diversity among it's ranks by adding new board members from various elements of the community. According to board member, Joe Lafountaine, the group is on the move to be more inclusive and address divisive issues from the past and present. This move is to provide a "Big Tent" atmosphere that will spur additional particpation in coordinating Pride Week 2007 slated to climax at the River Market.

Corrections and FeedBack. We would like to acknowledge our savvy readers who catch our gaffs and miscommunications. In the last post we cited our Executive Producers participation in the WAD activity at the Uof A at Conway. We were informed, and rightly so, that this campus is the University of Central Arkansas and has no affiliation with the Uof A system. Point well taken and so stated.
We got feedback from reader "Nick" who called us on the carpet about our post concerning the contribution from behemoth Wal Mart to the NWA Gay Community Center. Nick was not happy with a host of the reatailers practices worldwide and felt that I should not encourage gay people to spend their dollars with this company. He further stated that bookstores, thrift shops, etc. are thriving without corporate cash. I concur that entities such at these are in fact operating and flourishing. I support the argument that such groups need to be self supporting. I've praised this concept and preached it relentlessly, yet the reality in Arkansas is the mediocre infrastructure to attract upwardly mobile gay individuals to contribute in mass or securing other funding sources that can sustain a group over a period of time. Wal Mart with it's warts and all may have other motives, most corporate giants do. But when the rent's due, green backs pay not philisophical differences. Also Nick had a mouthful to say about the $50.00 ticket price to the Simply Red fundraiser being held Dec. 8. He was "outraged" at the possiability that many HIV/ AIDS survivors may not be able to afford this event due to their income status or no stash of FREE tickets provided for those so inclined to attend. His concerns are valid and we will further investigate to whether tickets were provided or donated. However, in leiu of his distaste for corporate gifts, I personally challenge Nick to donate a Simply Red ticket to be used specifically by a survior. It's a put up or shut proposition. What you gonna do?

FAST FACT: In 1986 a World AIDS Day memorial was unveiled at Mac Arthur Park and gone virtually unnoticed since. Who owns this work and why wasn't it used as apart of the this years commemeration since it's been ten years since it's installation?

Yes, we said it and you can too. Keep it coming to: Nealix101@comcast.net

9 comments:

Casey Willits said...

Wow, put up or shut up, indeed! Thank you so much for addressing the touchy issue of fundraising. While having a stash of free tickets for certain people sounds like a good idea, isn't a fundraiser to raise money? And wouldn't this money some how indirectly benefit those HIV survivors? I understand that there needs to be events open to the entire community, but isn't there the AIDS Walk? And candlelight vigils? And church services? Fundraising time is fundraising time, not feel good time.

Casey Willits

Nick said...

The problem with corporate grants funding community centers is that they allow the organizers to bypass the most important aspect of these centers -- the community. Rather than reaching out to diverse and marginalized queers people, the organizers focus on grant-writing and courting large, wealthy donors. This means that queers who otherwise would have been empowered by and involved in the process of developing the community center now have no connection to it. They also have no say in the direction it takes or the services it provides. Neither Wal Mart nor ‘upwardly mobile gay individuals’ are necessary to build this community center. What is necessary is broad based, progressive grassroots organizing that intentionally includes diverse and low-income communities. Additionally, it will be very hard for the queer liberation movement to reach out in solidarity to international and labor organizers while at the same time unnecessarily promoting one of our countries greatest symbols of oppression and globalization.

In regard to the Simply Red Challenge: Without a program in place for donated tickets to be distributed, there is no real way to ensure that my donation would benefit anyone that can’t afford more than an entire day’s paycheck to attend the fundraiser. Also, forcing individuals to beg entry to this party, or to make entry conditional upon receiving enough donated tickets from the rich, sounds humiliating and disempowering. I’m not sure it is the best option, but I would be willing to entertain it if there is significant interest. Otherwise I will donate $50 to a suitable, progressive AIDS organization or sex-positive sex-education program of The Body Politic Blog’s choice in either Arkansas or DC where I live.

In the future will you please allow comments made by readers to be posted? It’s not acceptable to call me out by name while hiding my original comments from other readers.

-Nick

Joe L said...

KUDOS, Cornelius!! I could not agree more with your take on both the Wal-Mart and Simply Red issues.

Even a carrot-&-stick approach of behavior modification recognizes that some times you have to put down the stick and offer reward for good behavior. When Wal-Mart does something positive it makes no sense to ignore it because you want to keep bashing them for other things you don't like. I have spoken with the organizers of the NWA community center and I very much doubt they would agree with Nick's statement that "Neither Wal Mart nor ‘upwardly mobile gay individuals’ are necessary to build this community center". Wal-Mart's donation alone ensures their ability to file for federal 501(c)3 recognition which will be a MAJOR facilitator in their ability to raise funds in the community. As someone focused on raising money for a GLBT event, I know how important that will be. If Wal-Mart wasn't needed then my question is "Why is this the first GLBT community center in the state?" Where are these thriving book and thrift stores that are giving back so much to the community that corporate and "upwardly mobile gays" aren't required? Have them contact me because I have a Pride event sorely in need of some community support-- grassroot, upwardly mobile, corporate or any other variety!

As for Simply Red---I am one of the HIV-Positive people that will be benefitting from the money brought in by this fundraiser and "yes" it will be a hardship for me to pay $50 out of my limited disability income to go--- but it is a FUNDRAISER. My attending the event is a want and not a need. If Nick wants to pay my way, I promise I won't feel humiliated and I certainly won't be begging!

P.S. Thanks Cornelius for the plug on Little Rock Capital Pride. There is room under the rainbow flag for everyone!

Nick said...

Joe,

Of course the organizers of the NWA Community Center wouldn’t agree with my statements. Their actions are in complete contradiction to my statements.

Please visit Wal-Mart Watch’s website to read all about the numerous ways that Wal-Mart is destroying communities in America and across the globe. Although you may not be a part of it, there is a growing international solidarity movement that focuses on the interconnectedness of oppression and the need for cooperation between progressive communities. Queer Arkansans should not support any corporation that lowers costs by suggesting its employees move onto government health programs, or routinely discriminates against women and immigrants, etc. It’s that simple. It’s called giving a fuck about people other than gay and lesbian folks. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it benefits the queer community by creating strong allies.

I grew up learning about the history of social change like a timeline – queer liberation movement grew out of women’s liberation movement, which grew out of the civil rights movement. Bullshit. Nobody is learning from the past. Gay clubs in DC were requiring black patrons to show three forms of ID before coming into a club as late as 1985, a decade after sexual orientation was added to DC’s Title 34. And now the gay rights movement cries about how we need to model ourselves after the civil right’s movement, and how it’s basically the same thing?! What a joke. Wake the fuck up and realize you’ll never end oppression of just one marginalize community – it’s all or none. To say there is “room under the rainbow flag for everyone” and then support Wal-Mart in the face of everything they’ve done to harm and disenfranchise other minority communities is just ridiculous.

And like I said in my previous post, we simply don’t NEED to take this money. Are you so cocky that alternatives to top-down corporate sponsored non-profits don’t exist? Shows how in thrall you are with the institutions of oppression and hierarchy. Go to www.dcinfoshop.org for a strong model of an anarchist run collective bookstore and community center in DC that offers space for events, free internet access, monthly progressive meetings, and sells books, cds, and local zines. This is a model found nationwide. Perhaps not in Arkansas yet, but that doesn’t mean that we need Wal-Mart’s dirty money to create it. Contact them yourself, I’m sure they’ll be able to offer some good advice.

Like I said I’ll gladly donate that money to a suitable, progressive AIDS or sex-positive sex-education organization in Arkansas or DC. Not to Simply Red.

Amanda said...

I think we are touching on some great topics here, and it is this type of dialogue that needs to happen for any solidarity to occur on the Queer Front.

I will have to back up Nick on all of this. Corporate sponsorship isn't needed, merely wanted. Grassroots organizing is never simple. In fact, it's much easier to apply for a grant to a corporation that commits human rights abuses to women and people of color than to get out in the community and get people to listen and support you.

But, getting grants from Wal-Mart is not solidarity. It's pretending your "agenda" is more important and somehow unconnected with the rest of humanity. Recently, Wal-Mart has done a lot of work centered on the gay and lesbian community (I say gay and lesbian and not Queer for a reason). It isn't because Wal-Mart has woken up and seen the light of understanding oppression. They merely want gay and lesbian income, plain and simple. (Another reason why the HRC Equality Index is a crock of shit).

Until we touch on these issues of class and exploitation, we will never move from a fragmented class-underwritten movement to a nonhierarchical, broad-based one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Guys

Wow! Thanks Cornelius for your insightful views on our centers relationship with Wal-Mart and thanks Joe for pointing out that we are not Upwardly Mobile Gays who are starting this center.

Nick

The leaders of our center are anything but upwardly mobile; on the board we have 2 members on disability, 2 members who are military enlisted retirees, 2 temp workers and only one board member who could be considered Upwardly Mobile. We have 4 gay men, a lesbian, 4 transgender folks, 3 of which are bisexual on our board. Most of us are “Hillbilly Queers” who want to help our brothers and sisters by building a Community Center here in the home of Wal-Mart, Tyson, JB Hunt and Dr. Ronnie Floyd (the author of the Gay Agenda, pastor of Springdale Baptist church and the Church at Pinnacle Hills).

As you can see we are not in friendly country, Benton County, Washington County, Carroll County and Madison County are our focus area. We do not even have a state antidiscrimination law that includes Sexual Orientation much less Gender Identity. Why is this important, because 4 members of our board are Transgender including myself. Now in a state without any laws to protect us (by the way Trans folks can not be in the closet if they come out of their home dressed you can spot most of us just walking down the street) we are out in public asking for help from anywhere we can get it.

So my challenge to you is come on down, I can bunk you in my 23year old RV parked in my back yard. I don’t have a hookup so you will need to come in the house for plumbing (yep we are high class, we got an indoor bathroom. My wife and I built it ourselves). And you can help me with that Grass Roots stuff. I need all the help I can get. If you feel that strongly about it our centers AIDS Buddy Program could use that $50 you were wanting to donate, and we could use it in our Food Pantry Program we run for our members with AIDS. We could sure use a couple of cases of Ensure if you have some laying around. If you know of anyone who wants to help us with them grant writing thingies we will take that help also. While I do agree with some of the Ideals that you espouse I also have a large area to cover and a lot of Queer Folk of all types that need our centers help. My reason for being involved with this center is Queer Kids, yep we got’em and they are not upwardly mobile either. Some of them have been thrown out on the street because they came out to their parents or got caught not acting like good little boys and girls. I also see in my service area a good number of Queer Seniors that are getting older and need help.

By the way our center doesn’t have a building. We beg space from churches, meet in members homes and we are not too proud to ask for help from anyone. As Joe said without that Wal-Mart’s “dirty money” we would not have come so far so fast. So I may not agree with Wal-Mart’s way of doing business all the time but they are not all the devil they are made out to be.

By the way Thanks Wal-Mart for all your support, and thanks to the Wal-Mart Pride group for all of your help also.
So come on down Nick and put you shoulder on the wagon we need your help.


Warmly,

Donna Marie
Hillbilly Trans-Queer.

Joe L said...

First off, I want to say that I am very glad to be a part of a community that is thoughtful and insightful enough to address issues in such a multi-dimensional way. While we may hold very different opinions and views, I feel that passion and committment to positive change is far more important than our differences of opinions in how best to achieve these goals. Nick, I don't know you and you don't know me, so I will ask that you reserve judgement of how "enthralled with institutions of oppression and hierachary" I am--- I probably had an FBI file for my protest activities when you were cutting teeth. My only point is that Wal-Mart sponsored the NWA community, Wal-Mart sponsored Simply Red tonight, Wal-Mart is on slate to sponsor our Pride event and I just think that is a good sign. I am NOT endorsing all of Wal-Mart's policies or business practices and I abhor any form of discrimination or oppression. I simply see the need to welcome any positive advances made. I hope that we all can recognize that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty--- we are on the same team and that which unites us always trumps that which could divide us.

Rick said...

The Arkansas AIDS memorial was dedicated on Dec. 1 1996 , on World Aids Day ,Not 1986, the event was well attended with about 1000 people attending the event the Committee who built the monument was a group of parents and love ones who wanted a more permanent memorial to their love one besides the MOCK cross cemetery that was held for years before 1995, the committee collected donations from 80 donors mostly parents and partners of people with HIV/aids who had died to the disease, after 7 years the Parks department took over the care of the monument as according to the Agreement with the City Parks department who donated the land that the monument was built on in Mac Arthur Park .the parents and friends raised $10,000 to build the monument a one time fundraiser and each year hang wreaths on the monument each Dec . 1 World Aids day As far as anyone using the monument its open to anyone who wants to do an event at the memorial to date no one contacted anyone on the old committee to request they use the monument for any event just a little background and history for the memorial, so you will get it right . Btw the memorial has held many events at the memorial the first 7 years including three Aids Walks and AIDS Quilt/Candlelight memorials events at the Arkansas ART center till 2003 if you would like more information on the memorial please contact me
Thanks ,

Rick

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