Sunday, April 13, 2008
The Houston HRC Protest
TransGriot Note: Aww is big, bad HRC 'scurred' of the ittle bitty transgender protest of their dinner? Yes. This is Phyllis Frye's 'Phyllabuster' report about yesterday's protest.
Phyllabuster: HRC goes petty: directs security to escort educators out
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) just got more petty and immature in responding to protests of its actions last fall that clearly divided a once united GLBT community.
As we arrived at the site for the Houston protest of the HRC fundraiser this Saturday, April 12th afternoon (reposts below for those new to this saga), we were told by hotel security that HRC had changed its mind about our attempts to educate.
We would be allowed to enter (without signs or banners, which we had never planned to bring inside). If we went directly to the event located on the second floor, we could hand out our lapel stickers that read, "GLBT & ENDA: United, Not Divided: I Support FULL Transgender Inclusion." And we could engage in conversation and educate those people who wanted to listen and learn.
So we walked around, outside the hotel for over an hour, carrying signs and visiting with each other. It was very festive.
The Houston Police gave us NO trouble. There were two very minor incidents where officers got a bit testy, but when I called their OIC, those officers were told they were wrong and to stop being testy with us. The rest of the force were very polite to us.
We joked amongst ourselves that we hardly warranted the riot barricades or the eight, horse-mounted officers or the other preparations and personnel. But the police felt it was better to be prepared than not.
The hotel had a guard at each door and along several parts of the sidewalk. They had placed traffic cones everywhere.
It was surreal -- all that effort for just little ole, inoffensive us.
After we had watched a lot of folks enter for the HRC event and it approached the planned 6 PM beginning, three of us entered the hotel, prepared to chat and educate for the hour before the 7 PM dinner, using our stack of 3 x 2 lapel stickers to initiate conversation.
We were met at the top of the escalator by an HRC official wearing a cream colored business skirt and coat. I asked if this was the HRC event area, and she said yes. So I offered someone a lapel sticker. I was immediately corrected, "No, not here, but here (she was indicating a place 18 inches away on the other side of a rope). Hotel security was poised nearby.
So we walked along the rope to an opening and around to the other side of the rope. I then offered another lapel sticker. An HRC man with a pink tie, a pink vest and dyed blonde hair (clearly who would be discriminated against on the basis of "gender expression") said, "No, not hear, but here (pointing us back to the initial place that we had just left).
I pulled out my cell phone. Immediately, the HRC guy told the hotel security to escort us out of the hotel. An event photographer took a photo as the hotel security closed and asked us to leave. There was no hustle. The security was polite. But we had to leave at HRC's direction and insistence!
So we did our gig outside until 7 PM. The weather was beautiful. During this part of our gig when we had planned to be inside educating, some friends drove up and lowering their window, asked how it was going. I told them about being escorted out at the direction of HRC when I began to offer lapel stickers. Our friends took a stack of lapel stickers and said, "They won't ask us to leave!"
As our group was packed up and leaving, I got a phone call that HRC had finally agreed to allow us to come in now -- after 7 PM, when all the cocktail chatty and education time was finished and folks would be sitting down to eat and hear a program. Or we could come back at 10 PM to offer folks our stickers as they left the event.
After being jerked around by HRC for the past hour, we were not about to submit ourselves to another trick or lie. We left to refresh and reflect at the nearby eatery.
NOTE: Protests against HRC are being planned for New Orleans and Phoenix. I will send info when I get it