Summersgill, Rosendall defend focused activism
Related Links

The Washington Blade

Rosendall to NGLTF: Stick to Gay Rights 01/05/01

NGLTF: An Open Letter to the GLBT Community Regarding NGLTF's Commitment to Racial Justice Work 12/21/00

GLAA statement: After five long years, victory in Tyra Hunter case 08/10/00

Rosendall to Corporation Counsel: Stop Undermining Human Rights Act 06/07/00

NAACP Task Force Calls for Increased Budget for CCRB 03/31/00

Rosendall joins panel discussion on DC sovereignty 05/26/99

GLAA speech for Equality Begins at Home rally 03/21/99

Gay leaders criticize Mayor's handling of incident over perceived slur 01/28/99

GLAA Joins NAACP Task Force 04/17/97

Rosendall testifies on sodomy law repeal bill 01/29/93

SodomyLaws.Org (website maintained by Bob Summersgill)

Summersgill, Rosendall defend focused activism

[Note: The following letters were written by GLAA President Bob Summersgill and Vice President for Political Affairs Rick Rosendall as individuals, and are not official statements by GLAA. They relate to a controversy surrounding the November 2000 Creating Change Conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and NGLTF's response to it, which Rosendall had criticized in a letter in the January 5, 2001 issue of The Washington Blade. See the Related Links box.]

The Washington Blade
Readers Forum
January 26, 2001


Letters by Julie Hollar (Jan. 12, Reader’s Forum) and Craig Bowman (Jan. 19) missed the point of the letter Rick Rosendall wrote asking NGLTF to stick to Gay issues (Jan. 5). Unfortunately, they both made personal attacks against Mr. Rosendall on the basis of his presumed income, race, and gender. Those attacks are best left to Jerry Falwell, Louis Farrakhan, and Laura Schlessinger.

Mr. Bowman states "we deserve to have organizations that advocate for our concerns and address us holistically, as full human beings grappling with myriad issues." Unfortunately, no group can address every issue of concern to every member of its constituency and hope to deal with any of them well.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is proud to focus its time and resources on the Gulf War, NAFTA, and the death penalty. They also work on poverty, race, and economic justice. We should not be surprised to hear in the future that NGLTF has branched out to concern for pollution, mass transit, global warming, animal cruelty, asteroids colliding with the earth, air bag safety, and violence on television.

All of these are issues of concern, and all deserve the attention of interest groups to deal with them. But should one organization deal with all of them?

What we have learned in the GLBTSGLTSQIA, etc. communities is that our issues are too complex and multifaceted to be dealt with by one organization or even one acronym. This is why fine organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and countless others have formed to address the specific, focused goals of their missions.

NGLTF has chosen another route. They have chosen to take on every issue and see the interactions between them. This is an interesting approach but ultimately leaves them with no focus at all.

Fortunately, our communities have many organizations and if NGLTF fails to do anything well because they are doing everything, there are innumerable others working on discrimination, adoption, immigration, marriage, AIDS, sodomy law repeal, etc., as well as the non-Gay issues that directly or indirectly affect our communities.

Bob Summersgill
Washington, D.C.


The attacks on me by Julie Hollar and Craig Bowman are perfect examples of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Gay left.

After quoting my advice to NGLTF, "Stick to Gay civil rights," Hollar writes as if that would somehow leave out discrimination, harassment, anti-Gay abuse, and AIDS. Because I cited the lack of a session on sodomy laws at NGLTF’s latest conference, Hollar suggests that sodomy is the only issue I think they should be working on. Does she understand the concept of an example?

Bowman says "We don’t all live in the ‘Queer As Folk’ vacuum of bars, gyms, circuit parties, and nightclubs." First, what does this ridiculous caricature have to do with me? Second, what does it have to do with anything? Is Bowman suggesting that people who go to gyms and bars, and who have lots of sex, are less worthy than he? Some of us manage to conduct our advocacy without being busybodies and denigrating other people’s lifestyles.

Bowman associates me with "the old boy, back-room, political approach." Does he regard the comprehensive local activist Web site that I administer,, as a back room? It is amusing that Bowman can make up things about people and engage in the most blatant smears while talking about his devotion to justice.

Hollar’s and Bowman’s unscrupulous letters substitute ad hominem attacks and cartoonish distortions for coherent arguments. Such tactics are the written equivalent of shouting down unwelcome views. If Hollar and Bowman stopped their sloganeering long enough to pay attention, they might learn something about effective coalition work from someone experienced in it. As it is, their attacks based on my income, gender, and race call into question their own commitment to non-discrimination.

Neither Hollar nor Bowman shows how union organizing, international trade, the death penalty, or the Gulf War are Gay issues. Thoughtful Gays disagree on these things. In the Wanda Jean Allen case, both murderer and victim (who wasn’t her first victim, by the way) were Lesbians; is it obvious that NGLTF should side with the killer? If everything is a Gay issue, effectively nothing is. Hijacking the Gay movement for class warfare is a one-way ticket to confusion — for some, a short trip.

Rick Rosendall
Washington, D.C.