Money And Politics

Went to “Trans Night Out” for Pride last night.  I was really hopeful that an old friend who listed herself as a “maybe” on Facebook would be there, but even many of the people who listed themselves as “definite,” like staff from the local Pride Center didn’t show up.

It reminds me how weak the area is.

A gal who has been cleaning the Pride Center for years and is about to graduate in accounting, said she wanted to get better in everything.  She wants to go from cleaner to board member of the Center.   An admirable goal.

I talked about the role of the board, and she listened, because a decade in NA has taught her to listen.  That’s one of the key lessons of recovery, the ability to learn from others mistakes and successes by listening well and using that listening to inform your life.

There really are only two functions of any non-profit.  One is delivering services — spending money — and the other is keeping the organization growing — making money.  There are lots of variations on this theme, of course, like motivating volunteers and such, but in the end, it always comes down to gathering resources, which usually means money, and then distributing those resources.

The board’s job is on the gathering resources, making money side of the operation.  Sure, there are also goals like representing diverse clients and such that are important in the creation of the board, but that doesn’t change the role of the board in helping make the operation a success.

She thought about this and then thought that maybe she didn’t want to be a board member after all.   I told her that she needs to figure out what her fight is, what her mission is, and do that.    There are so many projects that can be beneficial and useful, but the key is to do the one you choose well, with passion, vigor and quality.   In the end, being all over the place, a dilettante, usually doesn’t make an impact or a difference.  Know how to make the most of the energy you put in and be excellent.

We also spoke about her relationship with therapists in the area.  She hasn’t found many of them useful in her journey.  One can write good professional letters, which is good.  Another can tell her about the trans experience, but she now knows she can get that information in many places.   And the others, well, she likes the opportunity to meet transpeople she can learn from, but she doesn’t find the therapists empowering or all that healing.

It reminded me of what one of those therapists said to me years ago.  “A client told me that another therapist said they were cured, but you don’t do that.  You need to maintain the income stream.”

Michel’s Iron Law Of Oligarchy: Soon after an organization is founded its primary purpose becomes to sustain itself.   And if you have a business, you need to sustain it with revenue.

The local trans activist for the Pride Agenda is following his girlfriend to Los Angeles.

I asked if they were going to fill his current position.  Note that I didn’t ask who they were looking for, because I knew the position was fragile anyway.

“I don’t know,” he told me.  “That’s why people have to call in and tell them that it is important that the Pride Agenda keep a trans activist on staff.”

We talked a little of his experience and he said that he hadn’t understood how difficult it was going to be to be a transperson at the Pride Agenda.   Oh, yes.

I wish I had gotten more details, but I can imagine the pressure.  The Pride Agenda is responsible for distributing millions of dollars in  social service aid to organizations across the state.   This is the golden handcuffs that the power players use on them, binding them to the politicians while they are also supposed to be advocating for change.  They do serve an important purpose in connecting potential voters/contributors in a key segment to the government, but their client is just as much the pols as the voters, a neccessary go-between.

That’s why the Pride Agenda needs independent activist groups to move the goal posts, to stand up and scream, because that helps them balance their obligation to the pols.

At the rally for a bill the Governor wants, supporting women, some local activists waved signs and shouted for support of the gender rights bill, which this Governor supports but has not put on his legislative priorities.

Those activists were noted  and the Pride Agenda got a call from the Governor’s office about why people were queering that rally.  They said it wasn’t their people, that they didn’t organize it, that was a constituent group that needs to be addressed.

One little step in the dance.

The GENDA bill will be passed on meta issues, when the pols decide it should be passed.  Sure the two senators have come out for it, but they don’t have to vote for it, and lip service to trans rights helps cover harder votes that are challenging to the Lesbian & Gay agenda.

I saw Joe Salmonese’s suit when TBB challenged him at SCC.  Nice suit, great shoes.  The trans community didn’t pay for that suit.

The interaction between power and money, between money and politics is deep, abiding and unbreakable.

Which is why I have to have a good relationship with money if I really want to have any relationship with power, which is why any transperson has to have a good relationship with money if they want a good relationship with power.

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