Sunday, April 09, 2006

What's More Important than Gays?


That's right, folks. The recent party celebrating the 35-year anniversary for the trailblazing Bay Area Reporter newspaper was rather sparsely attended by local dignitaries. Why?

Because the host hotel is one of the ones currently being boycotted by the local hotel worker's union, ever since a strike and retaliatory lockout in 2004.

Of course, the hotels have calmly gone on their way, buoyed by San Francisco's rapidly-rebounding tourism industry (indeed, the number-one industry in the city) and regular influxes of workers, plus the fact that many of the unionized workers were more than willing to go back to work without a contract when the hotels lifted the lockout (aided, no doubt, by the fact that the union strike wages were a paltry $200/week).

Given that, it should seem obvious that the union leadership blundered big-time. But who can they frighten, if not employers, and who can they manipulate, if not their workers?

You guessed it -- politicians and gays.

The politicians part is understandable, if pathetic. But the gays part frankly leaves you wondering, especially the depth of response:

Several members of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club contacted (BAR Publisher) Horn and general manager Michael Yamashita late last week to make their concerns known. Some club members wanted the paper to move the party to another venue....

Greg Shaw, president of the Milk Club, told the B.A.R. this week that he was one of those who discussed the issue with Horn. The matter came up at the club's March 28 meeting and the membership directed Shaw to approach the publisher.

"People weren't too happy about it," Shaw said of club members. "It's a priority of the club to support Local 2 this year."

Of course, it all makes sense once you consider another few points:

Kelly Dugan, with Local 2, told the B.A.R. that she and other union members had hoped the newspaper "would have done the right thing."

"We have an ongoing boycott and are asking groups to cancel events," Dugan said.

Dugan, who's also vice president of the Milk Club, said that the union hopes to recommence negotiations soon.

Or, my favorite:

Longtime gay activist Cleve Jones, who was hired last week as Unite HERE's national liaison to the LGBT community, also called the paper last week.

"I'm shocked and disappointed," Jones said. "It's an important break in solidarity."

That last is pretty bad, though. Cleve Jones, who throughout time has stressed the importance of remembering gay history and those who are part of it, wants people to ditch an event celebrating exactly that because it might piss off a union whose workers it almost impoverished and who are mostly apathetic towards it.

Paid shills like Jones and Dugan who insist on linking "gay rights" to unpopular causes because it benefits them personally are one of, if not THE single most obvious of, the reasons that gay rights are not progressing as they should be.

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