Arts & Entertainment
Garcia video asks community to come together
By Crystal Proxmire
Originally printed 5/31/2012 (Issue 2022 - Between The Lines News)
"We need to realize that our movement rises and falls with all of us," said Affirmations executive director Dave Garcia in a video released over the weekend in response to community bickering over the fate of Equality Michigan.
Denise Brogan Kator's resignation from Equality Michigan earlier this month surprised many in the LGBT community and news of the organization's financial struggles have many pointing fingers and speculating about both the future and the past.
Equality Michigan board president Patrick Schuh said the board of Equality Michigan is managing the staff for the time being, and that changes are in the works.
"Many advocacy organizations are experiencing fundraising challenges in this difficult political climate; yes, that has impacted our organization. We recognized that our current mode of operations was not sustainable. We have pulled the board and staff together to do an overall assessment of the organization; we are looking at our strategic focus, the organizational structure, and the scope of work...Such an examination may result in a more limited scope of work. Funders will either need to accept Equality Michigan scaling back and being less broadly active, or all pro-equality Michiganders will need to be more active in the movement themselves with greater contributions of time, money, and energy so that we can continue to hold the line on our most basic rights, educate the public, and work to move us forward. At this point in history, no success will be achieved without making it everybody's fight."
No clear plan or financials have been released yet, although Schuh says the search for a full-time executive director will begin this week.
Between The Lines publishers Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz, longstanding community members who have seen Equality Michigan and the preceding entities grow up from scratch, wrote an editorial suggesting that organizations merge in ways that make sense. The editorial has gotten folks talking about how the community can move forward together, though there is also still a lot of finger-pointing between groups and those who take the idea of consolidation personally.
Garcia's video focused on fostering positive dialogue and teamwork in the LGBT community. To demonstrate the need for a cohesive political force, he played a clip of Paul Cameron of the Family Research Council talking about the threat of a homosexual agenda. The clip demonized LGBT people and compared them to child-rapers.
"Sometimes minority groups eat their own," Garcia said. "We can't afford to let that happen right now...We've got guys like this out there. This is who we should be focusing our energies on in our community. We don't have time for this.
"We are in an important election year and we have a weakened political arm right now. So yes, Affirmations is going to do everything we can to work with and help Equality Michigan at this time."
Garcia called for an end to blame and for the community to rally together. "We need to realize that our movement rises and falls with all of us. And so right now that means that donors have to give a little more. Boards have to strengthen. Everyone has to work harder right now - because people's homes are getting burned down. Kids are still getting kicked out. Guys like this are still spewing their hate."
In response to the blame game, Garcia said, "Any time a nonprofit gets into trouble...it is all of our responsibility. All of us. It's like a sport team, you know. When the sports team gets in trouble often times we point the finger at the coach and say it's the coach's problem. The coach is the first to go. But the reality is any sports team that gets in trouble, that's the responsibility of ownership, and upper management, general managers, coaches, the players and even the fan base. Everybody shares in the responsibility in any organization or team that struggles."
View Garcia's complete video at http://youtu.be/Dkk97AP85kE.
Donors who wish to give to Equality Michigan can do so through their website https://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35018/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=7171.
Unity Michigan is a coalition made up of LGBT organizations including Affirmations and Equality Michigan. Find out more and get involved at http://www.unitymichigan.org/showcase/.
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