SPEAKER 1: Before I get started, I do want to say thank you to some co-sponsors. They include the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center, and the Feminist Gender and Sexuality Studies Program here at Cornell. So let's see. Being a board member for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, it is my distinct pleasure today to introduce to you Jamie Grant.
Jamie Grant is the director of the Policy Institute at the Task Force. She holds a PhD in women's studies from the Union Institute, where she studied with many Bruce Pratt, Barbara Smith, and Queer Historian John Dumelo. For six years, she directed the Union's Institute Center for Women, the nation's only academic women's Center dedicated to collaborations between scholars and activists.
Her articles on transformational organizations and coalition work have been published in major academic journals and anthologies. Grant has offered a course in social movements at Georgetown University and workshops on gender expression and sexuality at the Whitman Walker Lesbian Services Program and the Task Force Creating Change Conference, which I've had the ability to participate in.
Her piece on "Butch Femme Erotics"-- this is good-- pay attention here-- her piece on "Butch Femme Erotics" was developed at the Whitman Walker and appeared in Leslie Newman's "Anthology, the Fem Mystique" and "Sojourner, the Women's Forum." Grant recently served as a program designer for-- oh, I'm sorry-- served as program designer and facilitator for the Ford Foundation Signature Leadership Program-- leadership for a Changing World and the Advocacy Institute, a fem and a feminist, a sex radical and a mother, a mom, Grant lives in Petworth neighborhood of DC with her partner and their two children. If you could please join me in welcoming Jamie Grant.
JAIME GRANT: Thank you, Mario. It's great to be here and great to have you on our board. This piece that I want to read today, the "Homosexual Agenda Revisited"-- it should have quotes in it on the little poster, the homosexual agenda-- I wrote for an anthology that came out right before the Obama administration came in. And the Institute for Policy Studies wanted a whole bunch of non-profits who are looking at everything from global issues to homelessness in the US to write there sort of friendly love letter to the incoming administration and say what kind of change we really needed in our communities.
Many people who were writing in this piece had pretty much been shut out of public discourse in their arena for about eight years. It certainly was true for us at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. None of the sort of ideas in this piece could really go anywhere for eight years. We couldn't even get a phone call returned. And I'm happy to say that in the Obama era, we now have a place at the table, which is, as we know a beginning and not an end.
So this piece really talks about, what is the gay agenda now that we're sort of in a-- if we're in a post-feminist world, which I don't believe. Are we in post-gay world either? So that's why I put this together.
So I'm going to read this, and then I hope we can have an interesting chat about it. "Political and legal debates around lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights often center on the two political footballs of the last 15 years, marriage and the military. However, the issues facing LGBT people extend well beyond the right to marry and the right to serve in our armed forces. From protecting our health to safeguarding our economic security, the vulnerabilities faced by LGBT people involved challenges universal to all Americans, but with the added specific jeopardy of a people stigmatized and targeted for discrimination because of our sexual orientation and gender identity and expression."
So given that, I've divided my talk into a few categories, our communities, our families, our health, our economic security, and our freedoms. So our community's. "The religious right paints a picture of LGBT America as white, male, affluent, and sex obsessed. The scant federal data on our community offers a strikingly different portrait. A study on African-American same-sex couples reveals that black female same-sex couples are raising children at almost the rates of their heterosexual peers and earning 10,000 less a year.
A similar study on Hispanic and Latino same sex couples indicates that over half of Latino same-sex couples are raising a child. However, these two studies based on data from the census provide limited information on the realities of life as LGBT people. These studies don't include important information on the economic and social well-being of single LGBT people, as there are no federal surveys that collect data or have an LGBT check-off.
Until LGBT people can build a case for justice via the gold standard data sets that other communities routinely draw upon to demonstrate their vulnerabilities and the very real harms caused by homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic discrimination, these practices will be continued. And the true story of LGBT people will be discounted, distorted, and ignored. How many LGBT individuals are there in the United States? How many elders lack access to health care?
How many of us are homeless and preyed upon in the streets? How many transgender Americans face employment discrimination? What set of forces converged to create high rates of HIV infection among black, gay, and bisexual men? What are the social, emotional, and material consequences of being targeted as other and defined as less than by religious figures, policymakers, and in the case of aggressive anti-LGBT ballot measures, the majority of our neighborhoods, our neighbors, and our colleagues?
Our first essential step in uncovering and understanding the complexities of LGBT life, including our work lives, health needs, diverse family, and kinship structures, racial and cultural legacies, and the outcomes have been targeted for discrimination and public abuse must be the inclusion of LGBT check-offs and signifiers on key federal survey instruments. Housing labor statistics, family and social surveys, and health surveys just to name a few all offer critical data collection opportunities for the grossly understudied LGBT communities.
Our families, there appears to be no way to create an LGBT life and escape the profile of despair defined by politically powerful moneyed interests in this country. When we choose a single life, LGBT singles are portrayed as lonely, depressed, and addicted. Making the choice to couple, LGBT partners are seen as either failing at commitment or in the event of undeniably long-term relationships, undeserving of state recognition and support. Finally, LGBT parents are pronounced inherently unfit, a threat to our children and all other children in our midst.
These attitudes seem out of date and even laughable alongside the truth of our rich varied thriving contributions to American life. But the harsh reality is that current public policy much more closely reflects these dangerous outrageous prejudices about LGBT people than the widely acknowledged significance value of our talents and efforts as LGBT workers neighbors, family members, and friends. As a result, the various way that LGBT people partner, build communities, and build families remain unrecognized and in exile from the benefits and legal rights afforded their heterosexual peers.
As a community that has long built our families against all odds, LGBT people have a history of moving beyond couples only nuclear family frameworks in our kinship structures. Our families take many forms, including a lesbian and a gay male raising children together, three same-sex friends and a same-sex couple raising foster children, a transgender couple serving as grandparents for a gay man's children, two lesbian friends joining forces to help raise one of the women's teenage siblings, a lesbian adopting her bisexual partner's child from a former relationship. US census findings tell us that a majority of people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity no longer live in traditional nuclear families.
We need to create new forms of legal recognition that address the complexity of our diverse family structures. So accordingly, we made these recommendations to the administration. Protect our families. 1, create a federal safety net that does not privileged marriage and does not penalize single people.
2, ensure that the tax code is fair for LGBT families and individuals. 3, repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. 4, promote permanent partners legislation or other reform legislation that allow same-sex couples the right of opposite sex couples with respect to immigration. 5, remove barriers to granting asylum for LGBT people and those living with HIV.
Support our families. 1, provide equal access to coverage of fertility treatments. 2, provide equal access to adoption and foster care. 3, through the Family and Medical Leave Act, recognize LGBT families and provide funding for leave.
Care for our youth. 1, stop funding proven failures in sexuality education, especially those that stigmatize and defame LGBT youth, such as abstinence only approaches. 2, ensure that LGBT youth have access to supportive appropriate sexual literacy and education. 3, on any given night, 20% to 40% of all homeless youth in America identify as LGBT. Create holistic approaches and provide funding to combat the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness.
Care for our elders. 1, extend federal benefits associated with relationship recognition to same-sex couples, ensuring equality in social security and Medicaid regulations. 2, allowed same-sex couples equal access to shared bedroom facilities and housing in federal and state funded housing programs and facilities. 3, include grandparents who are LGBT or whose children are LGBT in the National Family Caregiver Support Act. 4, ensure that the Federal Older Americans Act and Administration on Aging include LGBT people as part of the recognized vulnerable senior constituencies and identities and those with the greatest social need.
Our economic security. Like all people, the foundation of our sense of safety and security lies in our ability to pursue happiness, including employment in our chosen fields. Economic security for LGBT people requires that we are not thwarted by discrimination in securing the education we need to pursue our dreams and that the fields we wish to contribute to are open to us. Accordingly, we recommend, 1, support affirmative action, speak out against repeal efforts, hiring practices must continue to address race and gender gaps in income and leadership across all sectors of our society.
2, promote an Employment Discrimination Act that covers sexual orientation and set gender identity. 3, create fair policies for LGBT federal employees around employment benefits. 4, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
5, ensure that job training is safe and accessible to all LGBT people. 6, provide increased federal funding to make college accessible to poor working class and middle class students. And 7, support safe schools legislation.
Our health. The World Health Organization defines health is not merely the absence of infirmity and disease, but also the state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Accordingly, we strongly advocate the following.
1, every American must have access to health care. 2, health care parity for mental illness is essential to the health of all citizens. 3, transgender people must have access to federal, state, and private health care programs and insurance for their gender related health needs. 4, reproductive justice is central to the well-being of women, men, and their families.
This entails not only the right to choose parenthood, but the material, social, and legal conditions essential to actually having a breadth of options in creating one's family of choice. 5, internationally the US should end its global gag rule. That one's done. And 6-- sorry, I gotta a cold-- funding for HIV research, prevention, and treatment must be increased.
Interventions and support for communities hardest hit by the epidemic, particularly African-American communities and transgender communities must be researched, created, and widely deployed. Finally, our freedoms. Ensuring fundamental freedoms enshrined by the Bill of Rights for all Americans requires laws and policies that recognize and protect freedoms of expression, assembly, and religion in the public spheres, of special meaning in the lives of LGBT people is the enumerated right to privacy, whether in our bedrooms, or homes, in transitional shelters, or in prison cells. Equally important are privacy rights with regards to transitions of gender, identity, and expression.
As recently as 1986, the Supreme Court in Bowers vs. Hardwick found no right of privacy to engage in adult private consensual same-sex behavior. The court's decision, while widely scorned in the media as socially out of touch, nonetheless upheld state laws that criminalized same-sex behavior and in upholding the laws gave license to ongoing attacks against LGBT people through the denials of child custody to lesbian mothers and gay male fathers, the refusal of publicly funded AIDS prevention education material and the denial of recognition to LGBT student groups on college campuses. In 2003, the Supreme Court reversed the decision in Hardwick, striking down anti-sodomy laws and declaring that they violated the privacy and liberty of adults to engage in private, intimate conduct.
All Americans, but especially LGBT Americans, must have security and fundamental freedoms, but also must live free of hate speech, religious-based persecution, and abuses within the justice system, specifically as it relates to prisoners' rights. Accordingly, we advocate for the following. In terms of privacy, 1, protecting the right to privacy, social security records, and other federal documents, and that right needs to be updated in a way that reflects the way people's self-identity and their gender expression.
2, repeal the Real ID act, which would regulate requirements for state issued identification cards and mandate that states share their databases. This act fails to protect individual privacy. In terms of speech, the next administration should protect LGBT communities from hate speech by speaking out against all campaigns that target LGBT persons for defamation, discrimination, violence, and isolation.
Religion. The administration should recognize that freedom of religion necessarily includes freedom from religion. Therefore, LGBT exclusions from anti-discrimination practices in hiring for faith-based groups and programs should be halted.
Finally, justice. In order to provide for the humane treatment of all LGBT prisoners, we recommend that the next administration pursue the following changes. 1, develop a comprehensive program of education and enforcement to end sexual assault and rape of prisoners. 2, house transgender prisoners with they're expressed gender identity. And 3, enact comprehensive federal hate crimes legislation."
So that's the new homosexual agenda. And I really liked writing this piece, because I think we took a really holistic approach to it at the task force. Most people's gay agenda slips going into the administration were about marriage, don't ask don't tell, DOMA, and a couple of other things.
And I think the beauty of the new administration is for better or for worse, Obama is not an identity guy. He's an issue guy. And so organizing around identity in this administration I think is not the best strategy.
We're really thrilled to see ourselves at the table now at the health care meetings, at the education meetings, at the transportation meetings. And I think as this piece shows there are implications for all of our communities in all of these pieces. So I'm happy to be organizing Beyond Identity.
And I think it's a really new day for public policy for LGBT people. Certainly, we're going to be needing to hold feet to the fire in the next four to eight years. But as I say to people, I'd much rather watch this administration make mistakes than any administration I've had to watch make mistakes in the last 25 years. So questions.
AUDIENCE: I think I'll start, just because you gave a good picture of the federal policy [INAUDIBLE] doing and certainly a lot of these issues, trying to take it the state. But I'm wondering, we have a great-- I think, for a much better administration at the federal level that's listening and inclusive, but at the state level, I know that we have a lot of battles. And some of those battles are taking some kind of civil action. So I'm wondering, how does the federal policy agenda differ from the state and also, not only in policy initiatives, but also in the topics that are used?
JAIME GRANT: Yeah, boy, that's a complex big question. People have been having, obviously, a lot more success at the state level. And the task force really for the last 10 or 15 years has emphasized state organizing. And its worked for just this reason.
There was nowhere to go at the federal level. And it made great sense. It still makes great sense to invest in organizers in the state.
Something like 40% of all Americans that are LGBT are now covered by anti-discrimination legislation of some sort, because they live in the sort of patchwork and mismatch of either state, local county ordinances that protect people. And of course, the federal legislation and nondiscrimination has gone nowhere for 25, 30 years now.
I think there's a possibility for that to change. So I think the two things go hand in hand. We're clearly at a tipping point around marriage. What's happened this week, we've more than doubled the number of states now that LGBT people can get married in. And I think it's going to have an effect on all the other states.
What happens, I think, is the state organizing shifts the public discourse and makes things possible at the federal level. I think the Defense of Marriage Act is going to end up looking like a terrible shameful ridiculous piece of legislation eventually. And it will be repealed. But I think it's the state momentum that's going to get you there.
AUDIENCE: Yes, I had a have a question about the strategy. Do you all have very particular items on that agenda that you read of that you feel are more important than the others and then by passing one of those some of the others might follow just because it in a sense paves the way?
JAIME GRANT: Well, I think that the marriage people in the movement have said long said that since marriage is such a foundational thing and if there was acceptance around that, all kinds of things would change. That has been their argument. I'm not a big marriage girl. So it's not been the way I've wanted to organize in the last 10 years.
But clearly, the right took hold of it in such a-- it was such a great fundraising terror mill for them. That whole struggle took on a life of its own. So I do think the discourse around marriage is at a tipping point, even though it's still virulent and contested. I think the right is just even this week it started to sort of make noises like they think their concessional, that this is the way that it's going.
So I mean, we're all working in our little at our little desks madly is what I can say, is the aging policy people, there's so much possibility now. We've got great connections with AARP, which we've had forever. But now we can actually go to the administration and make some serious inroads around aging.
This getting old people to be vulnerable populations, seeing LGBT people as vulnerable-- I mean, we have hardly any data at all. But again, the 2000 census that looked at same-sex couples says that basically older lesbians and older lesbian and gay couples experienced poverty at twice the rates of their heterosexual peers. So since there is so little demographic data in this way, it's hardly ever an argument we can make. And the census never intentionally tried to collect data on our partnerships.
Basically in 1990, they wanted to start to collect data on unmarried partners who were heterosexual. But if two people lived in the same house and checked off the same gender on the form, they got an unintended sample of same-sex couples. And that's been huge important information in making economic arguments around anti-discrimination.
I mean what you can see, I think, is that there is discrimination against LGBT people in employment, especially gender nonconforming LGBT people and employment. And that that has an effect over the lifetime so that by the time you're an elder, you are twice as likely to be living in poverty. So getting that special vulnerable population designation is going to make a huge difference around having the aging apparatus in this country, which is sort of clunky and not ready for the boom that's coming anyway is really not ready for the LGBT part of that boom.
So there's just one little area. I mean, we're working furiously over here. I'm the federal data, gal, right. I mean, it's so wonky. And it seems so uninteresting.
But my god, if we got an LGBT question on the census, it would change our lives forever. It would put these myths to bed forever, the myth of gay affluence, the myth of how we partner, and where we live, and how much money we make, and everything else. So that's what I'm going work do or die in the next couple of years.
Other people in other places in the organization are working on health care madly, in terms of having a new health care system that's going to cover many, many more Americans, since we know we are more likely to be poor and since anecdotally, we do think we're really experiencing trouble, especially transgender folks in the area of having reasonable long-term employment. Uncovered people are us. It's kind of-- you wish you were twice the size that you were in a moment like this. We've had so much of our work focused in the states. And now there's, I would say, just enormous opportunity at the federal level in the federal agencies in the next while.
AUDIENCE: You mentioned this course a couple--
JAIME GRANT: A little.
AUDIENCE: You mention this course a couple of times. And it seems like, especially with the new happenings in Iowa, there's a movement now in California. A very ultra-conservative group is trying to-- putting on commercials on three times a day and trying to tell people that their personal freedoms are at risk if gay marriage is allowed to take place.
And so the whole idea is that they want to frighten people into thinking that their civil liberties are at stake. And it's all about discourse. It's all about how you say something or how you don't say something. And that's what usually sparks fear in the hearts of people. And I wondered what you guys do now, what your strategies are now for shaping that discourse now that you have, like you say, a place at the table.
JAIME GRANT: Right. Well, I actually think the Marriage Equality Movement's done a good job of-- for once, we have been the one that have shaped the way people talk about this, marriage equality as opposed to gay marriage, same-sex couples as opposed to gay. And I think that that discourse has resonated for people who are not gay that basically.
Some of the ads we ran during prop 8, for instance, I mean, I know we lost, which was crushing. But honestly, 52% to 48% at the ballot box was 10 to 25 points better than the last time we ever got to the ballot, you know what I mean, across states. It was 10 or 12 points better than we did in California only four years before.
So I see that it was not the outcome that we wanted and crushing given it was election night and hallelujah time had come and changed. But honestly, we gained an awful lot of ground in those four years. So now I've lost my train of thought.
So in terms of discourse, I think the one commercial that we ran was of this straight woman in a gown. I don't know if anybody saw it with her bouquet running to the church and somebody throws a trash can in front of her. And then somebody does something else. And she falls down and her gown is dirty.
She can't get into the church. And then the thing said, what if somebody wouldn't let you marry the person that you love? And I think that that has resonated for people across sexualities, that there is sort of a fundamental right that every human being feels to pick the person that they love and go to the altar, that that's-- we certainly are given that-- I was certainly fed all that imagery and what not since the day I was born.
And the ability for us to do that and to create a connective conversation around it, rather than a polarizing one, I think, as usual just LGBT people sitting in their cubicle next to somebody at work and saying, I want to marry my partner, you know what I mean, I want to secure my family more, my kids. I want my kids to be all my partners health insurance. And now I can't, because we're not married.
I think those stories have changed the discourse. And I actually think that this, the National Organization for Marriage, I think they might find this is going to backfire on them. I really do. I mean, it's really early.
These things are just starting to run. And they're trying like hell to just have some big reactive thing. But as Iowa goes, so goes the nation. I mean, it just happened in the highland. It'll be very interesting to see what comes out of it.
AUDIENCE: I have a question. And it was sort of, I guess, maybe not a discrepancy--
JAIME GRANT: I can't hear so you're going to have to just stand up and yell, because I'm a little hard of hearing.
AUDIENCE: I understand. But when you're talking about family and you were talking about your points to recognize alternative kinship structures and alternative, I guess, care networks and whatnot, I was, I guess, a little-- when you came to talk about the economics section of your, I guess, points, agenda points, I guess, I was if you could talk a little bit about how-- you mentioned federal housing subsidies to same-sex couples and having like a lot of economic benefits for same-sex couples. But that really--
JAIME GRANT: Doesn't cover it.
AUDIENCE: --it makes it rhetoric that you said in the family part of the agenda that we should really push to recognize all of these alternative kinship structures and yeah, also, if you could talk a little bit about that.
JAIME GRANT: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think the reality is that the exclusion of these things for people who do choose to couple are so glaring. And there are things that, obviously, you can point to that are robbing people of their homes, of their retirement, of survivor benefits. I don't know if people know-- I mean, if you have a home and you live with your LGBT partner for 20 years and then they go into a nursing home, they can take the home.
They can't do that for straight couples. You're protected. So some of these things, I think, are high on the agenda, because they're so glaringly wrong. And they're so obviously a theft of our security and our safety.
I think that the-- I think universal health care and stuff like that fits more to our bigger tent stuff. And I also think there's just been so little ground and so little creative thinking on what are those policies. And those are the kinds of things I want to do in my little seat at the Policy Institute, which is to say why couldn't your survivor benefit go to your best friend, who's been in your life for 25 years, right? So yeah, I mean I just think we're a little behind the curve on that stuff, but it's definitely stuff we're raising in our family policy talks and whatnot.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] I'm assuming national organizations are significantly more conservative than some of these ideas, I guess. Do you see it? Is that true? I mean, maybe on your desk, it's really viable. But is it?
JAIME GRANT: Yeah. I would say on my desk, it's really viable. And I can't really comment on the other desks. You know what I mean?
I mean, that's why I think the task force is such a great place to be because it's not heretical to write these things, or think these things, or think we're way behind in what should we be thinking about.
AUDIENCE: Going back to the demographic piece and how you mentioned that it would be such a great thing to have the LGBT box on the Census. But can you go key into the debate you must have had in the office of maybe the negative sides of that or having the permanent record. I mean, there's a-- my first reaction is, oh no. Wouldn't that maybe increase-- I don't know-- discrimination [INAUDIBLE].
JAIME GRANT: Recrimination. Well, the thing about the Census is it's in the Constitution to take a headcount of the American people to do all these really critical important things. So it's kind of like-- the whole integrity and veracity of the Census is that nobody gets any repercussions for any reason. And it's completely confidential.
And we've known in the 10 years of people checking off the LGB-- checking off the same sex partner box-- I mean, checking off-- two women who check off that they're unmarried partners-- there's never been a single case of anybody having any trouble. So we have that track record.
It's certainly been an education process with our community to say this isn't going to happen. But we're not the only community that has a difficult relationship with the state, in terms of filling ourselves out, right? I mean, there's always undercounts in communities of color. There's always undercounts of homeless people.
You know, the Census originally thought black people were 2/3 of a person or 3/4 of a person. So, you know, the Census has always been political. And I think it's been in education process in our community.
Since this data has come out, it's become so obvious to people-- the benefit of it because we've been able to make, even with this tiny, crazy, dataset-- I mean, in the '90s, I think it was like 300,000 couples identified themselves because even those we did this huge education campaign saying check the box, people weren't going to check the box.
And then there was a jump in the 2000 census of, like, I don't know, another million couples. It wasn't that more people coupled. It was that people saw, in that little sample, the arguments that we could make were really useful.
And so I think coming to 2010, the really interesting thing for me now-- because I was around in 2000 when the task force did that first campaign. And I remember the calls and people saying, I'm not going to check the box. What? Are you crazy?
Now, people are like, where's the LGBT box? Why aren't they counting the singles? I mean, our sense of entitlement and our sense of, where are we, has changed utterly in those 20 years. It's amazing.
And people want-- people are ready to check the box. I mean, certainly not all of us. I mean, those of us who sort of have multiple forms of discrimination on us and documentation and stuff is a scary thing. I mean, we're doing that sort of education work across all communities.
AUDIENCE: Building off this discussion of data since we're here at the research--
JAIME GRANT: I know. Data. We love data.
AUDIENCE: Have you and your colleagues at the task fork exercised or thought about ways in which to connect your political agenda with the academic analysis and research that's going on at institutions of higher learning and sort of plugging that research into the policy [? and agenda? ?]
JAIME GRANT: Yes. I would say I love it when it's useful. So little of it ends up being very useful. I mean, I would pose that challenge to folks.
I mean, one of the things I hate is that academics come to me, and they want to build their careers off of a subject that bears no relationship to whatever our policy priorities are. It's like, if you want to be useful to people on the ground, come and sit down and have a conversation about what's going on and what would be an appropriate piece of research that you could take on that would make a real difference.
You know, it's like a working with rather than working on kind of relationship. And it's different. And most academics don't want to give up whatever their agendas are.
So yeah. I mean, we work with a great guy named Randy Sell who has gaydata.com, which he's just done huge work on sort of amassing every bit of tiny, weeny, statistical, community-based samples, the big samples. There's a couple of other federal samples that ask sexual behavior questions on it. And so everybody extrapolates from those like mad.
So we love good, sound research on our community. And we actually have a lot to say about what that is, and what it looks like, and how to frame it. So call us.
And I love to work-- I mean, we work with-- I mean, the office basically quadruples every summer with interns. And people working at your level can be extremely supportive and helpful to the work.
AUDIENCE: I have a pop culture question-- a discourse question.
JAIME GRANT: Oh. Yay. I love pop [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: The pop culture question is about the role of how people are portrayed in the media-- for example, the increase in LGBT characters on television, or, for example, the idea that in Milk, we had two straight men actors playing gay men--
JAIME GRANT: Two hot straight men.
So how that has changed over the past few years. And then the discourse question is sort of jumping off the data question [INAUDIBLE]. If we have this increase of people identifying in the Census, for example, over the past 30 years, how do you then counter argument that maybe more conservative groups might make that the community is growing and that it is more of a lifestyle change, and that's something that we have to protect our children from--
JAIME GRANT: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: --as opposed to--
JAIME GRANT: People are getting a lot of toasters for recruiting.
AUDIENCE: Right. As opposed to something that people just identifying. And how do you frame that discourse to avoid that kind of--
JAIME GRANT: I mean, really-- on that kind of stuff, it's like, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. It's like, I don't anticipate what the right is going to do. I know what's going to be right for the community. And then when it happens, you deal.
I mean, every single gain you ever make is going to get twisted into an argument for why, you know, you're perverse, depraved, a threat to society and children. And, you know, you have to just go on your merry way. I can't live in that kind of double consciousness, and I definitely don't around sort of second guessing what is obviously going to be a gain for the community.
And I'm not really sure what the question is on, like, the gay characters. What do I think about it? What do I--
AUDIENCE: Do you feel like it's-- I mean, certainly, I don't know how it could be perceived as a negative? But do you feel like it should be increased? That there should be more advocacy to try to get more portrayal in--
JAIME GRANT: Again, it's just like not my thing. I mean, I love it. I love seeing those characters. I think it helps young people enormously. You know, I thought The L Word was a fun, guilty pleasure. I love seeing Ellen do her thing. She's so great. You know what I mean?
It's great. It's just not-- I mean, I'm sort of not a GLAD person. I think that's really important work. Not my work.
AUDIENCE: Can you explain what GLAD is?
JAIME GRANT: Oh. GLAD-- Gay and Lesbian--
AUDIENCE: Alliance against Defamation.
JAIME GRANT: Alliance against Defamation. You know, they do the Hollywood stuff. I mean, they've done this stuff for years. Every time there's a bad thing that comes out in the media, they get on it. They do great media advocacy.
And then they do-- you know, big-- throw big parties and support whoever is out, and, you know, new characters. I think representation matters. I mean, you know, given how many just incredible lies are told about the community all the time, representation matters. Sorry. You.
AUDIENCE: Besides gay marriage, what are the conversations that you're first having at these meetings? Since you're invited to the table, what are the health care issues that are right now on the table?
JAIME GRANT: Well, I mean, I'm not at all these meetings, OK? I'm not the lobbyist, right? But, I mean, our position is we want to see as expansive a policy on health care as there can possibly be, right?
I mean we'd like universal health care. We'd like a single-payer-- you know. But that's not going to happen. So what?
You know what I mean? It just means being at the table and articulating what it means to our community when the debate starts to go around making it smaller and smaller, which we know that's what will happen.
AUDIENCE: And a second question. So last year-- ENDA, and not passing, and being very controversial with the taking out of transgender and gender identity. What do you think would need to happen to have that pass as well as-- I feel that a big problem within that bill was there's a lot of transphobia within the LGBT community, not just in the country.
JAIME GRANT: Hugely.
AUDIENCE: What you think is--
JAIME GRANT: The next step?
AUDIENCE: The next step for that?
JAIME GRANT: And you're like a plant. I'm so glad you asked me this question because for the last year, I've been working on this huge survey on transgender discrimination. And we just finished our survey. We did it online, and we distributed paper surveys in, like, you know, poor, hard-to-reach transgender enclaves all over the country.
6,500 people took our survey, 20% people of color. I'm not sure the income distribution yet. We're just cutting this data.
But basically, trans lobby days are April 26 and 27-- 26 to the 8th in DC. And we are going to have our first-line data for this. And I think it's going to blow people away.
I mean, the people who basically say, you know, is employment discrimination really an issue? Is homelessness really an issue? I mean, the sort of vicious connection of isms that affect trans people in this country are going to be really visible in a huge sample for the first time.
Discrimination at work, homelessness, drug addiction, sex work on the street-- you know, the whole set of dominoes, if you will, around-- police abuse. We have a domain on education. How has it affected your educational life? What's your family life net? What's been your experience in public accommodation-- police, fire, ambulances?
We're going to have horrible, horrible stories to tell. And everybody knows-- legislators legislate by the story, and they legislate by the numbers. And what's always said about this community is it's so small. It's so invisible.
What's the point? We don't even know what it is. We're going to have a lot of things to say about what it is.
You know, my opinion about what happened the last time is really that inside the community, people got gun shy. I actually think we, at the task force, think the votes were there. I mean, we never abandoned a gender identity inclusive ENDA. We pushed as far as we could push. And our main person in Congress got cold feet. And we've had a hellish year-- couple of years with him since, even though he's done some amazing, wonderful things for the community.
So he himself is saying that a gender identity inclusive ENDA is going to pass in this year. So I think that the work that happened in the aftermath of that really outrageous, painful battle-- which was that all the way up to the end, the entire coalition said we're not going to abandon it. And then some of the more powerful interests in the community did abandon it. And they were the people that had the ear of legislatures.
And the backlash about it has been educational for the whole community. I just wrote a piece about this that I want to get out. It's sort of like, you know, what's gender got to do with it is what a whole bunch of gay people said afterwards. You know, why should we have a gender-inclusive ENDA nondiscrimination bill?
I mean, first of all, transgender people, I think experience the most level of employment discrimination of the Ls, the Gs, the Bs, or the Ts in our community. That's one reason. But another is an ENDA that doesn't have gender protections doesn't protect a whole lot of Ls, Gs, or Bs, either-- that basically Ls, Gs, and Bs are getting tossed out of their work environments because they're gender nonconforming more often than because of who they're having sex with.
Very often, the gender nonconforming among us are the people that touch off people's homophobia. That's where it comes from. It's the lesbians in a tie at work. It's the gay man who appears too effeminate for somebody who's liking at the job that is much more a target for being fired than somebody who sort of seamlessly, gender-wise, fits into the workplace. So this is the argument we've been making and the discourse we've been trying to create internal to the community and doing the education internally about why an gender identity inclusive ENDA matters.
But amazingly, we just did a ton of education on the Hill in the aftermath of that loss that I think is really going to pay off. And it's a new day in Congress. And it's on Barack Obama's change.gob gov website that gender identity ought to be in the ENDA bill.
I mean, god. Wow. I mean, we did that. It's incredible.
It's hard to imagine having come out of the Bush administration that you just see this-- you know, on a government website. It's kind of breathtaking. But I do think that, again, there's a tipping point. And I think it's going to be a hell of a battle. But I think it's going to-- I think we're going to do it this year.
AUDIENCE: Do you see any space for or relevance of efforts to be focused internationally, given a lot of these would differ from country to country--
JAIME GRANT: Oh, yes.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] the legislation? For example, I'm from India. So for a country of one million people, homosexuality is still illegal.
JAIME GRANT: Yes. Well, there's huge work globally. We're just not one of the organizations that does it. We focus domestically.
But the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission-- one of my dearest oldest friends is the ED there are now-- Cary Alan Johnson. He's been a specialist for them in Africa for the last 10 years. And he's now based in New York. They're doing work all over the world on human rights abuses against LGBT people.
Also, in November of 2006-- very few people know about this. But there was a gathering in Indonesia of human rights activists-- Mary Robinson from Ireland, some very well-regarded, not LGBT-identified human rights activists came together and created a set of principles called the Yogyakarta principles because they were in Yogyakarta. And it identifies how gender identity and sexual orientation rights relate to all the major human rights conventions that already exist.
And this is a huge, groundbreaking document. And nobody's using it yet. So you can Google it and find it. But it is starting to be the basis of LGBT advocacy work around the world.
Another huge, huge change and sort of a new beginning for this work-- Julie Dorf, who founded IGLHRC many, many years ago, a guy named Mark Bromley in DC, and Michael Guest, who was one of-- he was an ambassador under Bush. And he-- I don't know where. Some tiny country, I'm sure. He resigned because they wouldn't give his partner benefits.
So these three folks are the head of a new commission called the Council for Global Equality. And they're working specifically with the State Department on all these mission plans that come out of USAID and basically getting them to specifically address LGBT abuses in those mission plans across the world. And that is going to be huge.
Already, since Obama came in, he just signed that declaration that the Bush administration refused to sign that's a global declaration that condemns LGBT violence across the world. The US had sat that out.
I mean, Hillary Clinton's State Department is going to be a very different actor in the world around this stuff. So I think we can see a lot. I think the changes in the global stuff is-- again, it's going to be huge. Back here.
AUDIENCE: If someone else wants to--
JAIME GRANT: Somebody else want to-- and then I'll come back? [INAUDIBLE] over here. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: OK. I just got a question about gaps the leadership that you mentioned earlier. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about-- I guess more, my question is from observing different sort of-- the makeup of the leadership in national LGBT rights organizations, it doesn't seem to fully reflect what we would call an ideal group of leadership that really reflects the diversity of ourselves.
JAIME GRANT: Yes.
AUDIENCE: And insofar as wanting to narrow those gaps in other sectors of workplaces.
JAIME GRANT: [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about that sort of--
JAIME GRANT: [INAUDIBLE] I was with the task force 20 years ago when Urvashi Vaid from India was the Director of the-- the Executive Director. She was, like, 29 years old.
And the heads of all of our departments at that time were women of color. And it's now 2000 and whatever. And we have a much more seriously white-dominated movement than we did 20 years ago, which is just kind of crushing, honestly. And it very much plays itself out in the kind of gaps that you're seeing. I mean, when the right makes arguments about LGBT people being white, and affluent, and having nothing to do with other civil rights structures-- struggles, it's very easy to make those arguments when you can't see leadership that reflects you.
So I think it's a crisis. I mean, I've been-- many folks think it's a crisis. I think a lot of leaders who've been in positions of power needed to have real serious succession plans that are conscious about this-- that are conscious about race and are thinking about who needs to step into their shoes.
I think the reality of fundraising for LGBT organizations is like many nonprofits. It's really tough, dog-eat-dog work. And the reality is many of the candidates of color that come up who've got experience running a $500,000 organization, or a small, community-based organization-- when it comes time to hand over the reins of an $8 million organization or a $40 million organization-- in the case of HRC-- people always use the money to say, this isn't the best candidate at the time.
And certainly, that's fixable. And again, if leaders would bring people up, and introduce them to donor networks, and get them apprised of whatever the leadership of the organization is 5, 10 years in advance, those things are doable.
I mean, corporate America does this, right? They do succession planning. And nonprofits don't. And it's to our great detriment.
I would say that a bright little spot in this work is that Clarence Patton, who used to run the Antiviolence Project in New York, has started a project in New York called the Pipeline Project, which is specifically for LGBT people of color who want to take leadership roles in the movement and starting people out at the sort of internship level, following them all the way through their careers, to start to have basically a database and a cadre of people to suggest when these rare positions come open in the movement that really are pivotal.
So that project's not even two years old. And it's funded by Urvashi Vaid, who is now running a major foundation. And I don't know how much we can rely on one organization to address that gap. Every organization has to look at it. But it's certainly something holding the movement back.
SPEAKER 1: I think there's one more.
JAIME GRANT: There's--
AUDIENCE: The agenda you laid out is pretty expansive. And there are many other organizations that have-- you know, one point out of the agenda is their sole focus. How do you see everybody working together? I know, in my understanding of social movements, sometimes similar agendas of different groups who have surrounded-- or who have made identity their main marker have conflicted and not really helped the issue move forward. So how do you see allies coming together to move the issue forward?
And then sort of an add-on to that, how do you see allies of the LGTB community contributing to pushing this agenda forward as well?
JAIME GRANT: I think the reality in our community is that the capacity is so small. I mean, if you added up all of the budgets of the 12 major groups, it's not one-- it doesn't even meet Focus on the Family, right, if you put all of us together. And that's one right-wing group, right, with a big platform.
So there's huge criticism all the time about how wasteful, or this community isn't doing that. But when you look at it, I mean, we are a grain in the sand, resource-wise.
So I think one thing that task force does really well is-- like, for instance, our immigration point on this-- you know, Immigration Equality, tiny group, great leadership, what can we do to-- you know, we have better access to certain things. They've got better expertise. You know, they've got the policy papers. How do we make it work?
And I think you just have to learn to play well with others. And I do think that is a history of our organization because we do. We're the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. We're going to have the broad agenda, right?
But I think pulling on the different pot of expertise-- the National Center for Transgender Equality, we did this survey with. We developed it together. We did the community outreach together. It's why the survey is going to be so successful.
But NCTE is tiny. They could never have mounted it on their own. So there's that.
And then there's the, like, who else do you play within your sandbox question. And again, I think, at different points in the movement, we did this better.
In the middle of the AIDS crisis, I think there was a lot of great cross pollination among communities because obviously, we're all in the same boat. So seriously.
Now, 20 years later, the state of different organizations and groups, connectivity is-- some's better. Some's worse.
I think the task force has had a great history of working with reproductive rights organizations and creating real connections there that have actually helped us and helped each other at the ballot box when all these different attacks have come in. But it's just work you always have to do.
I mean, really, we're a small organization. And given how big the plate is, you've just got to be incredibly strategic and try to get the best bang for your buck in all of your partnerships. And was there one more?
SPEAKER 1: I think this is it. OK, this is the last question.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I'm just wondering what the addition of the letter Q has had on the LGBT movement and if any-- has it really helped their [INAUDIBLE] awareness of health issue or [INAUDIBLE]?
JAIME GRANT: What do I think about the Q?
JAIME GRANT: I love the Q. I mean, I've done a lot of youth work. I used to be on the board of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. If you don't have the Q, you're missing young people. Period.
And the Q much more describes my family. You know, I mean-- I won't go into it. But, my goodness. Where-- I mean, I will go into it. OK.
So I have a partner, who was born a woman. We call her dad at home. She really is a man. She doesn't identify as transgender.
You know, African-American, working class football player-- a game is on in my house every day of the week-- you know, and an intense, intellectual, lion-hearted person. OK? At the grocery store, she's read as a guy 60% of the time, 80% of the time.
My son is a total genderqueer, you know, loves the princess wear. Until he was five, he was read as a girl 90% of the time. Now, he's read as a boy because he's figured out school, pretty much. And he knows how to sort of meet the world. But whatever his stuff is going to be, I've no idea.
El is only two. I have no idea what's going on there.
Me? You know, I identify as a lesbian. I'm really attracted to masculinity. Now, it's mostly in trans guys. I've been living in lesbian communities for 30 years. We're Q, you know.
But really, I do think, on a serious note, that young people are identifying as Q more and more, and that I find it hard to keep expanding the letters when I'm talking. And so far, the task force does LGBT in most all of its publications.
But, I mean, queer is an identity that much more fits my reality and the reality of most of the people around me. And I guess I've long ago experienced that as a derogatory word in any kind of way. It's something very sort of internal.
So I see it more and more. It depends on the communities you're looking around in. The Reverend Rebecca Vogel, who runs our faith-based organizing, just did this great faith analysis of the Prop 8 vote. And she brought, like, 60 religious leaders together from all over the country-- a bunch of them California-based, but not all of them.
And in their gathering, they did LGBTQQIA. And so she gives me the report, and I'm like, OK. This is going to be a policy institute report. And we do LGBT all the time. But in the community she's working in, everybody does LGBTQQIA. So if this is going to be a faith report-- and what is that? Is that what everybody wants to know back there?
I see the-- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies. So I think the alphabet soup expanding is not a bad thing. It just speaks to how much bigger a tent we see our community-- how to manage it in dialogue and reporting and whatnot.
I mean, I was at the task force when nobody wanted the B or the T anywhere. You know what I mean? I mean, the task force started out as the National Gay task force in 1973. When I was there in '90, it was like a wrestle over the Bs and the Ts.
So I think the wrestle is good. I think the wrestle is good for us to think about who we are fundamentally. I always say it's a community that constantly refers to a rebellion led by transgender people of color as its defining moment. The Stonewall rebellion was absolutely a rebellion by trans women. And that's the defining moment of the gay movement.
So clearly, the LGBT has needed to be there for a very long time. And we're here. We're queer. We're everywhere.
SPEAKER 1: OK. Thank you.
JAIME GRANT: Thank you.
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Jaime Grant, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, holds a Ph.D. in Women's Studies from the Union Institute where she studied with Minnie Bruce Pratt, Barbara Smith and queer historian John D'Emilio. Her articles on transformational organizations and coalition work have been published in major academic journals and anthologies.
Grant spoke at CIPA's Apr. 9 colloquium.