Hollywood gossip mogul Perez Hilton not going to Sundance because of Prop 8

This is a big deal. Perez Hilton runs probably the largest Hollywood gossip site on the Net. His traffic is several times DailyKos’ (I’ve heard a good 7 or 8 times their traffic). He’s huge, and hugely influential. On an interview on CNN last night – I’m still looking for the tape – Perez says he’s not going to Sundance this year because of Prop 8. He added this on his own Web site:

You will support the Mormons if you go. You WILL support the taking away of equal rights for gays!

And good for Perez. The Sundance people don’t seem all that concerned that the principal cinema their using is run by a man who gave nearly $10,000 to Prop 8 – yes, their money, your money if you’re going to Sundance, is literally helping to finance a Prop 8 donor.

This is the kind of thing I’d like to see Prop 8 activism targeted at. Go through the Prop 8 donor database, down individual donors and expose them to the light of day. Hold companies accountable for their support of bigotry. I was contacted yesterday by a Web site called BigThink that decided to partner up with the John Templeton Foundation. BigThink wanted me to promote some new thing they were doing with Templeton. Templeton gave $1 million to Prop 8. I told BigThink to stuff it (I was a little meaner than that), then I emailed other top blogs to let them know not to publicize BigThink’s embrace of hate. Activism should be about affecting change. I suspect BigThink, if enough of us let them know how they feel, may avoid Templeton in the future. We advance the cause of making Prop 8 donors a pariah.

I’d like to see organizing in the wake of Prop 8 that specifically comes up with ways the grassroots can do things that have a practical real impact. I’m not sure sending the White House postcards about DOMA is enough. Nor is staying home for a day because you’re gay. I’m not sure what the practical impact is of either action. Obama is already against DOMA and a few postcards isn’t going to speed up its repeal. And staying home because your gay, again, what’s the impact? What’s the visual for the media? What does it help us achieve? I’m also not sure what a March on Washington achieves. These are grand events that cost multi-millions of dollars, take a good year-plus of planning, and always seem to result in no change whatsoever. Since 1963, there hasn’t been a March on Washington that’s had a lick of impact. We need to stop going for the glitzy cute idea, and start thinking like guerrilla fighters. What can we do that will hurt the enemy and help us win long-term?

We know the Mormons like to parachute into other states and drop a ton of bucks in order to take away the civil rights of gays and lesbians. But we also know the Mormons hate being the focus of attention. They hate having the public discuss, be made aware of, some of their more unconventional beliefs, such as Jesus being the brother of the devil, Jesus having had 3 wives including his mother, Native Americans being red and Africans being black because they’re bad people, and so on. We know the Mormons don’t like the world to find out that they are forcibly baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims into Mormonism against the will of the victims’ families. We know that the Mormons do this to every living soul on the planet – they quite literally steal your soul at death and force you to convert to their religion. I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t like that. Now why do this? Why expose this? Because the Mormons fear this kind of exposure and will learn that there’s a price to paid for their anti-gay activism. Perhaps in the long-run they’ll decide that the price isn’t worth it.

We need to come up with actions that actually impact something, that move us along closer to some discrete achievable goal. Targeting Prop 8 donors and businesses, for example, and/or boycotting Utah or Sundance, if done right, keeps the story in the news and puts real pressure on those who are subsidizing this hate. It teaches Prop 8 donors not to make the same mistake twice. That helps us in a concrete way. And finding ways to keep the pressure on the Mormons will eventually teach them that jamming their religion down the throats of other Americans comes at a price.

Local activists are trying to fill a void. No one is taking the lead on Prop 8 activism at a nation level. And it’s not clear that any of the California groups are either. Local activists have no choice but to assume leadership. And they have, and that’s admirable. But they need to move beyond “cute.” This is a war we’re fighting. So fight it.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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