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Houston Voice, June 17, 2005
File 011
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Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 011. 2005-06-17. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 17, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1092.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2005-06-17). Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 011. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1092

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 011, 2005-06-17, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 17, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1092.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, June 17, 2005
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date June 17, 2005
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 011
Transcript EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION Executive Editor CHRIS CRAIN Edtor BINNIE FISHER Corespondents DYANA BAGBY, LOU CH1BBAR0, JR., MUBARAK DAHIR, LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN, MIKE FLEMING, MATTHEW HENNIE, JOHNNY HOOKS. PHIL LAPADULA. RYAN LEE, BRIAN MOY- LAN, KEVIN NAFF, YUSEFNAJAR KEN SAIN, RHONDA SMITH. STEVE WEINSTEIN, ANDYZEFFER Contributors DON MAINES, DAWN RORIE, ELLA TYLER. SHANA NICHOLSON. JA CHAPMAN, RICH ARENSCHIELDT AND ANAS BEN-MUSA Photographer- DALTON DEHART, KIMBERLY THOMPSON Production Manager JAMES NEAL Webmaster ARAM VARTIAN SALES & ADMINISTRATION General Manager JASON WILSON jwrlson. a houstonvoice .com Sales Executive MICHAEL B. CANNON - mcannon.a houstonvoice.com Classified Sales / Office Administrator JOHNNY HOOKS jhooks, a hoiJ5tonvQice.com National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media ■ 212-242-6863 ■fft PuMsher- WINDOW MEDIA LLC Presklert- WILLIAM WAYBOURN Editorial Director- CHRIS CRAIN Corporate Controller- BARNETTE HOLSTON Art Director- ROB BOEGER Director of Operations- MIKE KITCHENS Director of Sales-CARRIE FISHER Director of Classified Sales- YVONNE ROHRBACHER Marketing Manager - AUSTIN SNIPES ttediarnber #*. •■«--***-<«, _** J«Ur <J> r^rM^. CHARTER MEMBER Established 1974 as the Montrose Star 500 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200 Houston, Texas 77006 (713) 529-8490 Fax:(713)529-9531 wvvw.houstofivoice.com Office hours: 9 a.m.-530 p.m. weekdays To submit a letter Letters should be fewer than 400 words. We reserve the right to edit for content and length. We will withhold names upon request, but you must include your name and phone number for verification. Please send mail to Houston Voice, 500 Lovett Blvd. Suite 200, Houston, Texas 77006; fax (713) 529-9531 or e-mail to editora houstonvoicerom. Opinions expressed therein do not reflect those of the Houston Voice All material in Houston Voice is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of Houston Voice The sexual orientation er inferred or Implied- The appearance of names or pictorial representation does mt necessarily indicate the sexual orientation o* that person or persons. Houston Voice accepts unsolicited editorial material but cannot take responsibility for its return The edrtor resents the nght to atceft reject or edit any submission, Al rights rewrt Io authors upon -MbrhcatJon Gwdetmes for freelance cwitribrtors are awlaWe upon request Forum HOUSTON VOICE JUNE 17, 2005 PAGE 10 editorial HRC's numbers game If HRC plays fast and loose with its membership numbers, how are we supposed to trust anything else the organization tells us? By MUBARAK DAHIR HERE IS A T-SHIRT hanging in my closet that dates back to the 2000 march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights. My then-lover and I bought the matching T- shirts because of the funny, double-enten- dre statements on them. "I can't even walk straight," mine says. His read, "I can't even think straight." Mostly, we bought them both for fun, because they were clever. But naturally we were aware of the political suggestion behind them. It was, after all, a political march on the nation's capital. We bought the souvenir T-shirts at the Human Rights Campaign store, just off DuPont Circle. Neither of us intended our nonchalant purchases to be construed as any kind of political endorsement of HRC, or membership in the organization. But after discovering the rather crafty way that the group that bills itself as the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights organization counts its membership, I can't help but wonder if I am an unwitting member of an organization I never intended to join. And I can't help but wonder just how many other gay men and lesbians around the country are, too. Even worse than feeling deceived about whether I am counted as a member of HRC against my will, I can't help but think: If HRC fudges its membership numbers simply to get political clout, how else are they misrepresenting the organization that claims to be the most powerful group in the country fighting for gay and lesbian rights? And if they would misrepresent even this most basic, elementary issue, why should I trust them on other, more important things? Indeed, how can I trust them? HRC CLAIMS TO HAVE A MEMBERSHIP of 650,000 people. That number easily makes it the largest national gay and lesbian rights group in the country. In fact, that number dwarfs the reported membership of other name-brand gay rights groups. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, also located in Washington D.C, reports a membership of approximately 20,000. Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, better known as PFLAG, weighs in at just about 44,500 members. The National Center for Lesbian Rights registers it has about 9,000 members. All of this makes HRC's number look pretty impressive. Until you know how the group counts its "members." As detailed in a recent Washington Blade news article, HRC's bylaws define members as anyone who has contributed $1 or more, whether as a gift or payment for goods and services delivered by HRC." The group's spokesperson, Steven Fisher, told the Blade that once someone gives or pays $1 or more to HRC and provides a name and address, they're counted as a member for life. He defended this unusual way of counting members by saying, "The GLBT movement is unique. When we come out of the closet, we commit for life." Apparently, we commit in death, too. HRC does not proactively clean out its membership rolls. The agency pays for a service that tracks when an address is no longer valid, but otherwise those who know the member must inform HRC for a name to be removed from the rolls. GIVEN THIS ODD ACCOUNTING SYSTEM, it's no wonder that HRC's membership rolls have skyrocketed since 1990. That year, the group listed a membership of 20,000 people. Just five years later, reported membership had increased fivefold, to 100,000. In the past decade, HRC's official membership numbers increased 650 percent, to today's whopping 650,000. It's easy to understand why HRC, or any political rights organization, would want to have the highest possible membership it could record. There is not only safety in numbers, but power in them, too. When you are lob bying Congress, the more people you can claim to represent, the more likely members of Congress will be to pay attention, and ultimately vote in your favor. But it's disgraceful that HRC would engage in such a misleading representation of who they are and how many gay and lesbian Americans support it. It appears that HRC does know how many real members it has, but they're not telling. Prospective members are told on HRC's Web site and in membership materials that dues are $35 and must be paid annually. "Active members" of HRC are those who pay dues annually. Someone who buys a product at an HRC store would not be counted as an "active member." HRC spokesperson Fisher acknowledged to the Blade that the organization's number of "active members" is substantially less than its number of total "members." But he refused to tell what that number was. "We do know the current number of 'active members,'" Fisher told the Blade. "But we don't publish it because our enemies would love to know." WeU, guess what, Mr. Fisher. I'm not an enemy of gay rights, and I'm pretty curious to know, myself. THE TRUTH IS, IT MATTERS LESS TO ME, and to most people, I suspect, what the actual HRC membership number is than it does that the organization has deliberately obfuscated the truth behind the numbers. Most of us are not as politically naive as the HRC would believe. We understand the tremendous difficulty of lobbying Congress on gay rights, particularly in an age of neo-conser- vatism in this country And, in the grand scheme of things, the size of an organization shouldn't be what determines support for the group from its constituents. But HRC is not only a group that is apparently full of size queens, it's a group that lies about its size, too. And I hate being lied to. Now, when I look at that T-shirt in my closet, rather than thinking about the political impact of the message on the shirt, I feel a little taken. And I can't help but wonder: What's HRC really trying to sell us these days? Mubarak Dahir is [ii editor of the Express Gay News and can be reached at mdahirtgexpress- gaynews.com READER FEEDBACK: Send letters, comments and suggestions to forum@houstonvoice.com.
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