Loss

Oh this rain — the kind so constant that the sky and the ocean seem to become indistinguishable. I crave it; I want to be in it.  Dry under my roof tonight, I read this — Pro-gay-marriage movement looks to ‘Obamify’ (SFGate) — and what I feel? Is loss.

It’s not specifically the loss of the election (which I imagine will retain its special hole in my heart well beyond the time when equality isn’t even an issue anymore). I feel no loss about the purpose of the report, which talks about all the great energy going into galvanizing grassroots and online activism. It’s truly both the seeds and the fruition of the Internet united: Not only can everyone tell their story, but they need to — and it changes everything. The world is our neighbor — now more than ever.

Nor do I just feel loss about the massive support we built online during the campaign going unrecognized in passages like this:

It would involve pairing new media technology with old-fashioned, door-to-door outreach – two tactics that were not used well in the unsuccessful opposition to Proposition 8 in November, according to a report by Marriage Equality USA, an Oakland-based organization that supports gay marriage.

… as similarly played out countless other articles like this and the endless comments threads they have spawned since the election.

In fact it’s not totally clear to me, the source of this loss, but here it is again:

Adina Levin, a Palo Alto software company co-founder and gay marriage supporter who is not gay, recalled a friend telling her that Prop. 8 supporters were holding signs on a corner in his San Carlos neighborhood. When Levin asked the campaign if she could use the micro-blogging service Twitter to quickly gather a counterprotest, No on 8 organizers said no, because it might tip off the opposition to their movements.

I don’t know who Levin talked to in the campaign, but connecting people online about protests is one of the major things we did on Twitter and in other online channels particularly in the days escalating up to the election. We didn’t do it out of a concerted tactic, we didn’t plan it, we didn’t strategize it — we simply listened in to the hundred-plus thousands of regular people, people not unlike you as you read this, who reached out and shared their stories via online channels. We did mobilize, we connected, we supported — not because it gave us a good reputation or a good story — but because there was the need.  And it’s not just no longer serving this essential purpose that I count as a quite personal loss.

The people I knew on the campaign dedicated themselves day and night, but afterwards went back to their originating, excellent organizations — far from the failed campaign — and yet I continue to exist in this crazy post-election nowhereland vacuum.  Articles like this remind me I feel strongly about not betraying the actual No On Prop 8 online community, which did and continues to thrive, because these people were literally unsung heroes.

As I sit here in the dark and try to put it all together, the rain pounds on the roof and my head hurts. My wife says I’m just hurting myself.  A pal from the campaign told me I just needed to let go.  I do — but I struggle with losing hope. And I hope I always do.

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4 thoughts on “Loss

  1. Good morning Moya. I am now on twitter, and trying to figure it out. What do I do to get it on my cell phone. Country code, what number is that. I really like what you wrote above.

  2. such a perfect summary — it’s too bad the chronicle didn’t take the time to find the people who worked their hearts out and exhausted themselves to reach out on twitter, facebook, myspace, linkedin, and so on.

    (rich – the u.s. country code is 1)

  3. Moya,
    i know how hard you worked. And you did a superb job online for the campaign. But there were many other experiences people had with the campaign. All of them are true. Your experience is true and so is Adina and mine (my online efforts / ideas were not supported by the campaign) and those of many others.

    I’ve done a lot of connecting since the election within the burgeoning grass roots marriage equality movement and there are an awful lot of stories out there about being turned away by the No on 8 campaign to help or told to stick to the script and keep one’s personal life out of it.

    Overall, the campaign leaders themselves acknowledged at the Equality Summit how late and incomplete they were online. They were. As great and effective as all your work was, there was lots missing. The campaign took it’s strategic narrative lead from its consultant (or so Geoff Kors said) and directed people away from personal storytelling.

    I’m sure it must be frustrating to feel like your work and the good things you saw be unrecognized. But those good things ( I personally saw them and am happy to validate them to you) were also, overall far too little too late. The Campaign didn’t hire you (while it paid out millions in TV ads) and it didn’t bring you and many others like you in early enough. it didn’t hire a community manager. It didn’t even reflect the number of people you were reaching out to in social media on its front page. It did the best it could with what it had but it made a lot of mistakes.

    And the people who worked on the campaign weren’t unsung heroes. They had this Summit. I went. There was a standing ovation for their work. It was acknowledged. And the campaign leaders spent the majority of the time saying what they did well. So I can’t agree with you that they are unsung. I’ve tried my best to always acknowledge your work.

    The mistakes made had massive implications. ME USA was kept out of Campaign decision making because it did not have the funders the other “lead” non-profits did. The door to door organizing wasn’t well integrated. It just wasn’t. And the online efforts, as excellent as your work was, should have been integrated much much earlier for us to win.

    I don’t think that acknowledging where mistakes were made and figuring out ways to do better is betraying anything.

    What I saw when you were managing and doing online outreach was the feeling of people coming together for common cause. You may feel that as loss because you may be experiencing anyone who critiques the campaign as “betryaing” them.

    I’m not sure. is that the loss you feel? Do you feel like you’re being “attacked by your own?”

    Personally I don’t view this issue as having sides. There is a clear unifying goal : marriage and 100% legal equality for LGBT people and all Americans. And there is a lot of energy and effort by many people going into making that happen. It is continuing. The role of the non profits is shifting and the importance of the net is greater than ever. You can still make a massive difference.

    You may find that when the day comes when you decide to actively re-engage in online organizing in a big way that the rush of energy comes back. It’s the connection between people that always energizes us. It’s standing up for ourselves that feel so good.

    I hope you will find your own way to re-engage because i think you are a very talented on-line organizer. And the shared goal is so much bigger than any tactical thing that happens on the way there. Equality is bigger than all of us.

  4. hey heather! hey leanne!

    wow — thanks for your generosity with the food for thought, heather. something about the term of “three months” really bookmarks a loss, i’ve found. three months after a move, three months after a relationship… it hits. again. still trying to sort out, out loud, what this has all meant — but two things i want to be sure i haven’t misstated:

    * i am *thrilled* at equality camp and all you and @cathybrooks and @adina and and and countless others are pouring into it. great work.

    * the biggest “unsung heroes” to me are NOT the people who worked on the campaign and i — rather the hundreds of thousands of people that engaged online during the @NoOnProp8 campaign, the human face — “the us’s,” harvey milk would say — who in stories like the above SFGate’s are all but summarily dismissed. somewhere inside all of these stories are the stories of loss, for me, and i can’t forget them. @EricMueller, @krabigail, @krellan, @arwilson, the mormon woman from California (these just roll off the top of my head). i think: what must they feel when they read the stories of the lack of online presence in the campaign against Prop 8? when they were compelled to bravely come out and represent themselves, often at great risk? then to be a “non-story” in the rewrite of the aftermath? i stubbornly refuse to lose and simultaneously grieve the loss of such generosity.

    AND i am glad you are dedicating yourself to preparing a place for all as we move forward.

    i know there’s more, and i haven’t been able to figure it out. i appreciate the dialog, and the chance for pondering. “equality is bigger than all of us” indeed — thanks for helping me keep eyes on the prize. i welcome and need that in my vacuum.

    PS hey dad! on Twitter! I could not be more proud. see you there.

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