Needless to say, at about 9am, demonstration day started out for me on a fairly ominous note. However, the sky eventually cleared up and the mercury of my porch thermometer began to climb as I loaded about a dozen protest signs into the back of my old V8 gas-guzzler for a “mission of mercy” into downtown Chicago, about 60 miles (and $50 worth of gas!) distance from the hacienda.
Nevertheless, I willingly “took one for the team”, because as the loudmouth chair of IGA (the ONLY politically active trans-group in town!), it was incumbent upon me to enable all the other folks who TRULY CARE about trans-equality to make a good strong presentation of our concerns to the presumably affluent supporters of the ONLY major LGBT organization who continues to hypocritically dismiss equality of trans-people as politically “inconvenient”.
In a fine show of solidarity, several gay and lesbian members of the Chicago Gay Liberation Network joined our small but sincere cadre outside of the hotel where this lavish affair was about to commence.
On a related note, I have it on good authority from my contacts at Equality Illinois that a substantial percentage of the elected officials who were invited to this gala had to decline due to “scheduling conflicts”.
Hooray for our side!
As I mentioned in my original announcement of this protest, I find it breathtakingly ironic that hrc can happily solicit up to a $350 donation with a “straight face” (excuse the expression) for a typical “chicken and veggies” hotel dinner, but due to the ongoing senseless employment discrimination that they deny the existence of, there are THOUSANDS of qualified, competent trans-people who can’t even draw $350 a week doing menial labor.
Truth really IS stranger than fiction.
So much for “equality for all”, eh?
On a rather humorous note, the hotel staff was originally upset when they saw us. They asked “What did we do to you? They thought “HRC” meant Hyatt Regency Chicago. We explained, and they said “Right on, we’re with you.”
As the elegantly attired hrc guests began to arrive, I stood in a rather prominent location in front of the hotel, and a lovely tall blonde trans-gal I had never seen before approached and inquired “Are you Cyndi Richards”?
I smiled, answered in the affirmative, and thanked this late arrival for coming. I began to offer her a salutory hand-clasp and a protest sign (in that order), and she recoiled with a look of horror on her face. “Oh no” she exclaimed, “I’m with hrc”.
Imagine my suprise. The only response I could think of at that point was “Why?”. She smiled sweetly and introduced herself as “Allyson” (sp?), the new “National Director of Diversity”, or something along those lines. I then regained my composure enough to assess the situation.
This person was apparently informed beforehand that I was the “ringleader” of this merry band of “misfits”, and therefore her first “assignment” was to “meet the enemy”.
To make things even more ludicrous, it was painfully obvious that she was unaware of exactly what type of connotation this new appointment of hers meant to the rest of the trans-community. She apparently thought of herself as somebody that was going to alter the course of events in the “ivory tower” on Rhode Island Ave., and I got the impression that she really believed it.
Clearly, I knew better.
I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
If the incredible efforts of the likes of superstars like Donna Rose and Jamison Green were of little or no avail against the “forces of darkness”, then the likelihood of this relative “newbie” effecting any tangible change in regards to the “second-class citizen” status of trans-people in the hearts and minds of her new masters is minimal, at best.
As we made polite small talk, I mentioned to Allyson that a couple of other trans-people I knew had been interviewed for her job. I also mentioned that they were summarily rejected because they refused to compromise their principles concerning the ENDA issue.
Then, with all due respect, I inquired “So, which principles did YOU compromise, Allyson?” Her reply was a vacant smile and a glassy stare, followed by an evasive “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I pressed further, but she continued to evade my questions, and then she looked at her watch and decided it was time to go inside. I offered her a button which had the familiar blue and yellow equal sign (with a red slash, as in NOT EQUAL) and a caption which read “There’s no equality without the T”. She accepted it, but refused put it on, even after suggested that if trans-equality was truly in her heart, then she shouldn’t be ashamed to wear it on her chest. Once again, she declined with a insipid smile and a glassy stare. I did manage to get her to pose for a picture, and if you check the Circle’s photo section you can see exactly what our new “representative” looks like.
Nice girl, but she doesn’t have a clue.
I gave her my card, wished her all the best, and I told her when she gets tired of beating her head against the wall in DC, she’s more than welcome to drop me a line, because I’ll still be out there, kickin’ ass and takin’ names. That’s the “Chicago way”.
(all respect, no restraint) Cyndi Richards